The Fivefold Ministry

Harol Eberle once wrote a book about the Fivefold Ministry and when I read it the first time I really was impressed. This from Ephesians 4:11 was the answer for the church! No reverends and church councils, no council of elders and deacons, no pastors and staff. A church lead by a balanced group of people with a special gift of the Holy Spirit, this is how it was meant to be, this was what we had to have!

I was still young.


  • Apostles start new churches

  • Prophets speak the words of God

  • Evangelists tell the good news

  • Pastors take care of people

  • Teachers educate

How you can also look at it

Wouldn’t Christ as head of the church put the right people in the right positions? I am under the impression the majority of the members of the majority of the churches are content with their church leaders. But then again we can safely say nowhere is perfect. I think it is an illusion to expect it is going to be so much better with a fivefold ministry as church leaders. Every church leader now is focussed on the Head and is doing its best to build up the church. Maybe we think it could be done in a better way, that they should change their approach, that they should adapt to modern times or they should guard the tradition, there should be more evangelizing or they should look after their own in a better way, they should do more for the youth of for the elderly. We always think a lot of it, we the steersman on the shore. I even write a book about it.

Fact is a church leadership, even if it is the complete anointed fivefold ministry, can’t alter the direction of a church too drasticly without a part of the people going overboard. They will have to compromise between all those opinions and take the general interests into account. This doesn’t sound as dynamic as the picture Harold Eberle shows and it isn’t. Being a pastor is walking with your flock step by step and always one who stays behind, being a teacher is educating people week by week to see some change, being an evangelist means years of investing for that one breakthrough, being a prophet means encourage and consolidate over and over again, being an apostle is hard labour and being patient until that small beginning with a few people grows into a community that takes responsibility for each other.

Being a church isn’t about the leadership but about all those people who love each other, hold on to each other and support each other. People who show who God is by doing this. The leadership of the church is meant to ensure people are able to do it.

Maybe the biggest lie in history is that ‘ordinary’ people in church aren’t able to look after each other properly. You need to have a special gift or ministry or education or anointing to be able do do it the right way. You have to be a leader or an official or be appointed one way or the other. This disqualifies a large part of the community for active duty. “The reverent has a degree, he know the bible and knows how to pray. We ordinary people can’t do that. So when someone is sick, old, new born or needs special attention for another reason, we bring in the vicar. Or an elder, but only as a last resort.” In a lot of churches we have moved on, because nowadays most churches have teams to do this kind of pastoral work.

I think 75-85 % of the people should be able to encourage, comfort, support or help others. Aren’t we all experience experts? We all are comforted once, encouraged, supported or helped by someone. It isn’t all about the right bible verse or beautiful words in a prayer. Someone who listens, understands and puts an arm around you, often is just as helpful.

The other side is that most of us think that if the pastor hasn’t shown up, the church has neglected us. We should part from this idea. Together we are the church, we are a community, a body. It doesn’t matter who stops by, everybody is as valuable. Everybody who thinks about you and sends a postcard, gives you a ring or sends you an app is a representative of Christ and the church. And vice versa, if you pay attention to someone, you represent Christ and the church.

There are people with a special talent of gift in this area and there are people, like the fivefold ministry, who are called to help the church members develop. As a church you are blessed if you have a lot of these kind of people in your community, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us can act like a couch potato with a Calimero complex. We are good enough to visit someone who is lonely or sick, to lend a hand somewhere, to invite someone to lunch or dinner who is going through a very busy time, to just send an app to show you didn’t forget or like a facebook post to give someone courage.