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What is the Five-Fold Ministry?

Consulting for Missionary Training Center, Missionaries, Ministry and the five-Fold Ministry

The concept of the Five-Fold Ministry can be a powerful consulting tool, and an important point to begin analyzing a church or religious organization. It contains the promise of unlocking the true inherent power of the ministry. Van Wyk (2018) notes that “Christ gave the gifts so that his work after his ascension could be brought to completion” (p. 5). This view holds that the apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds (pastors) and teachers (APEST) of Ephesians 4:11 are first qualified by Ephesians 4:7 “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.” According to this view, APEST is the key to understanding the fivefold thinking that unlocks the true transformational power of the Church.

Hirsch and Catchim (2012) define the offices mentioned in Ephesians 4:11:

  • Apostles extend the Gospel; they are future-oriented, bridge barriers, and extend the Church in new contexts.

  • Prophets are skilled at discerning God’s will; they bring correction and challenge the dominant assumptions inherited from culture.

  • Evangelists recruit and are particularly gifted at enthusing others about what they stand for.

  • Shepherds (Pastors) are those with a special concern for seeing and affirming what is human within structures.

  • Teachers are those who are effective trainers and inspirers of learning.

It is not difficult to place the role of the modern consultant in this context. A consultant's role is neither to tell a client what to do, nor to take action to implement change; rather, a consultant should focus on "assisting the client in defining the problem, analyzing the situation, evaluating possible solutions, and deciding on the best solution" (Stroh, 2015). With a view that skill in consulting is a gift given by God, the role of the prophet seems the most similar. DeSilva (2004) explains that the Church itself is the vehicle through which heavenly proclamations are made to earthly audiences. So this similarity would best lend itself to Christian consultants, or consultants specializing in providing services to churches.

For those seeking more information (and to take a cool test if you want!) about the Five-Fold Ministry you can click here: Five Fold Ministry Test

I’ve completed a book review of “The Permanent Revolution” by Hirsch and Catchim (see details below) and added it to my Missionary Training Center Curated Library.


DeSilva, D. A. (2004). An introduction to the New Testament: contexts, methods, and ministry formation. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Hirsch, A. & Catchim, T. (2012) The Permanent Revolution: Apostolic imagination and practice for the 21st century church. Jossey-Bass Leadership, Wiley, San Francisco.

Holy Bible, New International Version (1983), Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Bible Publishers.

Stroh, L., & Johnson, H. (2015). The basic principles of effective consulting. Chicago: Psychology Press.

Van Wyk, B. (2018). The application of Ephesians 4:11 in the recent missional debate with reference to scripture. In Die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi, 52(3) doi:10.4102/ids.v52i3.2305

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