Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Five Functions of ALL Church Mission?

The five equipping gifts in Ephesians 4 are ...
1) Apostle ... pioneering, entrepeneurial
2) Prophet ... discerning, convicting
3) Evangelist ... recruiting, decision motivator
4) Pastor ... shepherding, care-giving
5) Teacher ... educating

In their book, The Shaping of Things to Come (p.171-175), Hirsch & Frost suggest that the Ephesians 4 equipping gifts not only describe roles of leaders in the Body but also "the five-fold nature of the church's ministry." In other words, they believe these five categories are also general ministry functions that all Christ-followers fit into - in their unique Romans 12-gifted ways.

According to them, each of our Romans 12 giftedness fits into an Ephesians 4 ministry emphasis. For example, I have the gifts of leadership & exhortation. Frost & Hirsch's wider understanding of Ephesians 4 is that I am either an apostolic leader/exhorter, a prophetic leader/exhorter, an evangelistic leader/exhorter, a pastoral leader/exhorter, or a teaching leader/exhorter (or possibly some combination).

This is huge because, if true, it is a biblical prescription for understanding the main divisions of the Church's ministry... a relevant discovery for people looking to begin a new missional community in 2007!

So ... (& this is an honest question I don't have an answer for yet) ... Is it true? Does Ephesians 4 (please read the whole chapter) describe not only equipping individuals but also a five-fold structure for all ministry & mission? To those in our contributing group (& others)... please, please, please comment on this one.

Life & peace.


Missional Jerry said...


I believe this is God's structure for ministry teams.

Ill post more as I flesh out some thoughts.

Justin Walters said...

So the way that I seee it is that we all have Romans 12 gifts, each and every one of His children. Then He has specifically appointed some with one of the five roles, specifically for the "equiping of the saints." So how you are describinig it is only makes sense that this role would be in addition to the Romans 12 gifts.

Now I am not sure about this but it seems like you are asking if this is true in everyday life ("ministry and mission")? So are you considering that our role as well as our giftedness is not just for the "equiping of the saints" but also for other purposes? If so then I am sure its true but what does that look like?

Also can you expand upon your statement of "a biblical prescription for understanding the main divisions of the Church's ministry"? Are you applying this to individuals or to the Body of believers?

This also brings up one of my thoughts...can we get a true definition of Church? I would like to have a stable understanding of some of the vocabulary that we are all using here. I am not new to the church but am new to these thoughts and my mind naturally goes to set, albeit very traditional, definitions of very common "church" words. If we are to truely communicate what it is that we are burdened with then I think we need to all speak the same language. If we all agree then I will start a thread on just vocabulary and we can flesh out our thoughts there!

in HIM,


Quentin Mullinix said...

I think that all of us are a combonation of the gifts that John listed. Based on things in accordance with God's calling, I have noticed that many people have a primary gift and a secondary gift(and possibly more). Since we have so many things in life that shape us--from interests (passion for God) to trials in our lives, as we endure, we become more well-rounded Christians. This concept is found in 2 Peter 1:5-10. Their is a godly development in us that is described--a reciprocal affect from faith to moral excellence to knowledge...godliness...and love. I think this kind of growth can only lead to new and greater purposes that have the potential to go beyond our immediately recongnized gifts. I am convinced that the more we seek out the Holy Spirit for guidance to understand how to fine tune our gifts and allow Him to stretch our understanding in the gifts that we are weak in, working out the smaller questions of developing an impactful minisitry will become "details." I think we need to go beyond just merely recognizing our brothers' and sisters' gifts. We need to have a higher level of understanding of their gifts to where we can effectively sharpen them.

Aaron Esh said...

This is definitly an interesting take on this passage- that ALL believers fulfill those roles mentioned in Ephesians 4:11 (if I understand you understanding them right)- but I don't know if I can go there. It seems to me that at the beginning of this chapter Paul is addressing the truth that there is unity within the whole body of Christ through the presence of the Spirit but starting at verse 7 he begins to make a unifying dissection of the Body. He starts by saying "But to each one of us grace has been given AS CHRIST APPORTIONED IT." In verse 11 he goes on to say that "HE gave SOME to be ... and SOME to be ... and SOME to be ... ". This doesn't seem to indicate the concept that we all share in these roles but rather that we use these roles that seem (to me) to be supported by our gifts to prepare, build and be transformed. The presence of the Spirit and our gifts can and will make us a unified and transformed community of believers that are in touch with the needs of the world around us, specifically within the body. In my humble opinion this seems to be the general point that Paul is attempting to make in this passage.

I am not discrediting the thought that there are things,roles, acts, whatever youu want to call them, that ALL believers are called to do but I just don't think I can be comfortable using this passage to support that.

Your brother,

Aaron Esh

John Lynch said...

OK... I did some more study & have taken time to reflect on your guys’ insight as well. How ‘bout this?

Eph 4:7-8 literally says that "all" or “every one” of us has received “grace ... according to the measure of Christ’s gift”. Vs.16 also has the “all” & “every” notion in it. So vs.7 & 16 serve as bookends for what’s in between ... which includes vs.7... the special “equipping” gift list. So the “somes” of vs.11 appear to add up to the “all” of vs. 7 & 16.

That word "equipping" is the Greek word "katartismos", which is better translated "perfecting" or "completing" as related to spiritual maturity. The term is a general one used by Jesus in Luke 6 in reference to growth & is never used in the Bible to describe a mentoring ministry by a special group of “equippers”. Rather, it carries in it the idea of mutual equipping as Eph 4:16 explains... “Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. ” So the vs.11 EQUIPPING gifts are all about the WHOLE body BUILDING ITSELF UP.

For years, I’ve believed that Eph 4:11 describes a special group of people within the Body who are called to “equip” the rest of the of the body (i.e. coach & mobilize the team). But what if Eph 4 isn’t a special group of gifts or people, but rather the five categories of calling in which all Christian are called to participate in with their unique Rom 12 gifts (mercy, serving, giving, leading, exhorting, teaching, discerning)? After all, Paul starts this whole section out in Eph 4:1 with the following introduction: “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.

If this is true, then all of us should be able to find ourselves somewhere in vs.11 - even though we will each bring our unique Rom 12 gifts into those categories of calling with us.

(How’s my hermaneutic here? Dave Mc - am I getting my Greek right?)

John Lynch said...

A little more...

It's confusing because the word "gift" is used in both Eph 4 & Rom 12... but I don't think they're the same kind of gifts. We think of gifts as internal skill sets led & empowered by the Spirit. But what if the Eph 4 "gift" is our callilng?

EXAMPLE: What if the Rom 12 gifts define what kind of RACE CAR we are & the Eph 4 gifts define what kind of RACE TRACK we're on?

(This could be absultely huge.)

John Lynch said...

One more... this doesn't mean we all share apostolic AND prophetic AND evangelistic AND pastoral AND teaching callings. Just that we all belong to at least one of these callings.

Mike said...

From a more experience perspective I have been thinking fairly practlically about these roles lately as I look to develope a team here in colorado. I have come to see that everyone I am praying about and thinking about represent one of these roles. No one I can think of doesn't fit in one of these roles. With this blog I have re thought those things searching to see if I was just blindly assuming things and after more thought I have come to the same concolusions about the passage and those I am praying about. I believe thiese are THE roles or functions of all church.

One other note: I just got back from 4 days in Cal. at a conference where Forst and Hersh were the speakers for the conference. It was amazing!!! I think they are coming back to Den. in April 07. I will let you know but you all should attend when they come back. I will also post in as soon as I can on some of what I learned. Life is a bit crazy right now but I hope to get to putting some of my thoughts in in the next week or so.

Later! Mike S.