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Saturday, 17 November 2012

Ephesians 4 Ministries - A Fresh Look (2)

We have seen that the Eph.4:11 gifts point to the need for diversity in ministry for the church to reach maturity, and they are each given to serve and build up the body. I have found that people in the church connect with and even carry some measure of 1-2 of the gifts more than others. Some love the clear and structured thinking of the teacher, and are themselves wired that way. Others love the profound and soaring vision and unpredictable spontaneity of the prophet (I am dealing a little in stereotypes here as there are wide varieties of each of these gift, but bear with me for now) and they relate to that perspective and approach.

In fact, I've come to think that we should expect to find these 'gifts' to some degree or measure across a church community: you will have people who tend to the prophetic and others more pastoral, evangelistic, apostolic or with a teaching emphasis. We give the name apostle, prophet, teacher etc. to those who clearly carry one of these gifts to such a measure that we can see there is a calling and gifting in them to help equip the body in that dimension. And that need not have anything to do with a leadership role, or a governmental role. It is about gift and ministry (serving the body) not leadership or governmental authority. That's a separate issue (which I will look at with specific attention to the apostle soon).

The value of this pattern - a valid way of looking at it but not one that I want to be prescriptive about and which may work out differently in different settings, and as our understanding develops - is that it stops us from looking at people in 'positions' up above us or outside of us (though it is wise to draw upon gifts in the wider body and not just our local church) but instead liberates us to look for, to honour and to release the gifting that is among us as a church community, without all the complications of position and authority that have muddied the waters in the past. It discourages hierarchy and encourages diversity and mutual service. Let's start to honour the pastoral, teaching, evangelistic  prophetic and, yes, even the apostolic gifting that is among us!

Here's a diagram I used to teach on this recently. Of course, Jesus is our model for all these ministries.


  1. Really like the diagram, Trevor. Too often we separate v7 from v11. There is a measure of Christ's gift (represented in the full diversity of the ascension ministries) that is given to each one of us.

    1. Good to hear from you Chris. Great point to draw attention to v.7. I had come to the conclusion I had mainly from my observation, but this verse definitely supports it.