All gifts have their origin in the Trinity. The Father Appointed his son, Jesus Christ, to be head over the Church. As Lord and leader of the Church he gives gifts to his people, on the basis of Grace, through the working of the Holy Spirit.
But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift.
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
There are a couple of categories of gifts given to the Church.
1. Foundational ministry gifts (Fivefold ministry gifts- Ephesians 4).
2. Gifts of Grace to each individual (1 Corinthians 12:7-12, Romans 12:3-8).
Foundational ministry gifts:
These ministries are for the whole Church. They have the ability to serve into the local Church context, bringing encouragement and input, but they also are gifts given to the wider Church to build up, strengthen and equip....
The Apostle- A person who is sent to plant Churches- especially into unreached areas, lay foundations-establishing sound doctrine, keeping the church reaching out to the communities, whilst also caring for the poor.
Paul’s apostolic ministry (including the other New Testament apostles) was centred around relationship and partnership. He was a father to the Churches (he was involved with) and part of his apostolic mission was to catch the local churches up in world evangelisation, to facilitate a partnership to regions beyond.
The apostle Paul modelled team well, even though he was a gifted man, he made it his habit to gather around himself gifted men and woman, as part of his apostolic team. He would often send out members of his team into different contexts as representatives of his ministry- 1 Thessalonians 3:2.
The Prophet- The Prophet is someone who can see (in various measure) into the plans of God for different situations. They carry something of God's word and have the anointing to activate things by speaking them out. A prophet has the ability to recognise God's presence and help equip the Church to grow as God’s dwelling place.
They create atmospheres of faith and help equip folk within the Church to recognise God’s presence and hear his voice.
Prophets help build the Church- Lee Johndrow (apostles and prophets together on a mission) ‘Prophets flow from a place of encountering Jesus in order to receive blueprints and revelation so that the Church can be built. Each church has a location, a personality, a blueprint. The prophet recalls the blueprint for that locality’.
Apostles and Prophets are needed to lay healthy foundations in the Church. As Lee Johndrow once again says ‘The bible singles out prophets and apostles as the two ministries which, anchored to Jesus the Chief Cornerstone, undergird the Lord’s Church. All Christians are entitled to be built on this apostolic and prophetic foundation’.
The Evangelist- carry’s a burden for the lost. They carry a desire and anointing to help nurture, equip and release the Church onto the mission of making Jesus known in neighbourhoods and nations. They carry a gifting for the church, that unlocks a new fruitfulness, as the church witness about Christ.
Evangelists often carry the gift of healing, which helps reinforce the message of Jesus.
The Pastor- in the Greek is ‘poimen’, and can be translated as shepherd or overseer.
A shepherd's responsibilities would have included watching out for predators, protecting the sheep from attack, caring for weaker sheep and rescuing sheep that were lost or in distress. A shepherd would lead the sheep to refreshment- nourishment and rest.
Pastors are called shepherds as they use their gifts to care for the people in the church in the same way. The Pastor(s) are primarily the elders, but have the responsibility to nurture and equip other pastoral gifts within the church family. Pastors lead the Church with their eyes on Jesus, helping nurture and equip each member to follow Jesus themselves and grow in Strength, faith and maturity.
And the Teacher- can be connected to the pastoral gift, yet not always. The teacher helps open up and apply God’s word into the churches lives, nurturing and equipping each member into their sphere of influence.
The Teacher has an equipping ability, to help teach the Church body how to feed and strenghen themselves through God’s word.
The teacher partners with the other Ephesians 4 ministry gifts to help ground the Church into the macro picture of Gods whole counsel, enabling each member to realise their part in this grand narrative.
Gifts of Grace:
The Church is the body of Christ and has been filled with the Holy Spirit, empowering her with Gifts to build, strengthen, encourage and equip the Church in its Mission. These gifts are manifested by the Spirit in the lives of the Church body. Each of these gifts, given by God, are integral to the whole body, and are therefore to be honoured and appreciated. Everyone in the Church body has received Grace Gifts from God, and all are equally significant and part of the glorious body of Christ. ‘The entire congregation is to be a living, functioning body, with each member gifted by God and responsible for the life and work of the church’. Pauls Vision for Deacons- Alexander Strauch
Although we are all have certain Grace gifts, we can continue to grow and develop in these gifts. Alongside this, the apostle Paul encourages his readers in 1 Corinthians 12, to us to seek God for more gifts
All gifts are given from God, yet the sphere in which the gifts operate can be different. Some gifts help facilitate and enrich times of praise and worship, while other gifts help serve practically into areas of Church life. The (ministry) gifts given by the Ascended Christ are given to help equip the Body to function in these gifts- to empower each member of the body to serve confidently and freely into different areas of Church life, using their gifting. The Gifts given to the Church are also key in the Churches mission of advancing God's kingdom into this world. The ministry gifts help nurture and equip the church to function in their gifts within the culture, community and workplace.
1 Corinthians 12:7-11:
To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
Church Leadership Structures
What is an elder?
The Bible uses three words to describe the office of the church senior leader/s.
The biblical pattern for eldership is plurality-elders lead as a team together, drawing on different gifts within the team. But where there is currently only one elder, the local apostolic team will step in and support the elder, until a team is established.
The main roles of an elder- With thanks to PJ Smyth (Elders)
What is a Deacon?
The word ‘Deacon’ comes from the Greek word diakonos, meaning servant. The word diakonos is used just under 30 times in the New testament, and in most instances is used in a general way to describe serving within the believing community. For example, in Luke 8:2-3 Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Susanna were helping to support them (all) out of their own means. Support- Diakoneo- meaning to serve or minister.
In Philippians 1:1 and 1Timothy 3:8-13 the word is translated in a more specific way as deacon and not servant, signifying a specific office in the Church.
In the New testament the elders were the Servant leaders, and the deacons were leading servants.
The Main roles of deacons-
Leadership development in Church history (Background Information)
In the New Testament there consists of two main offices of leadership and service within the local church- Eldership and Deacons. As the first generation of new testament life moved to proceeding generations, leadership structures started to change. Clement, A church leader in Rome during A.D 95(S), wrote a letter with the evidence that he still continued the leadership pattern of the New Testament, with elders and Deacons. However, in the second century things changed.
During the second and third century, two offices became a three-tier structure, so you had deacons, elders and bishops. A lead elder within the eldership team, was established and elevated to a different tier of authority. This new position, soon became known as the bishop.
This tier of authority was instigated by Ignasius, a lead elder at the Church in Antioch, during the second century. He wrote many letters, confronting issues of Heresy's that were present at the time. Due to his great concern for churches not to listen to heresy, but hold fast to sound biblical doctrine, he informed the Churches to ‘do nothing without the Bishop’. His understanding was that the Bishop was in control, he was given by God.
Suddenly the bishop has become powerful, irrefutable and placed at the top of the pyramid of hierarchical power. Through this event, Control and power founds its way into the life of the Church.
This separated the eldership team, with the lead-elder, becoming the Bishop with superior power and the only one who had authority to ordain. This is still true today in some denominations.