All the Pieces Are Coming Together
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13
In the summer of 2015, my husband and I went, by introduction of a friend, to a ranch in West Texas. A few days before, I was praying about the ranch the Lord had shown me was in our future. The ranch is to be a place of healing and provision for many. Because of all the things the Lord had assigned us to accomplish there, we were going to need more land than we had initially been considering. We had looked at buying 50 acres. Now I was telling Him that I thought we were going to need more. Maybe even 100 acres. He smiled, seeming to withhold a laugh, and said, “How about 1000?” I was stunned! “1000 acres?” I said, “ I don’t even know what that looks like.” At that time I only owned 10.
I mentioned this conversation to a friend who lives in West Texas. She mentioned it to a friend at church. That friend said she thought she knew a lady at church who might have 1000 acres and would be willing to let us see it.
Within a few days we were in West Texas at the home of a stranger who was going to show us a tiny part of their 250,000 acre ranch so that we could see what 1000 acres looked like. God is good…and sneaky! He had more plans for us.
As we walked into this woman’s home, she immediately said to me, “Oh you have an apostolic anointing all over you!” I really didn’t know what she meant. I had not grown up in a church that taught anything about the 5-fold or how that might function in the modern church. On top of that, I grew up Catholic and so the idea of a woman as an apostle didn’t sit too well on my religious spirit.
Only recently had I heard about a group called the “Voice of the Apostles” and had been really getting comfortable with why these men found it appropriate to call themselves apostles. I understood their explanation and found it appropriate. But what could that possibly have to do with me?!
A week or two later, I was at a church in Dallas that was hosting a revival meeting with Randy Clark. It was a small, mid-week gathering of about 60 people. On the second day of the event a young staff member from the church, who I had never met, approached me and said, “I really see an apostolic anointing on you!” Frankly, I was a bit annoyed. I said, “Thank you, but I really don’t know what to do with that.” He looked at me perplexed and tried to explain a bit. Poor guy! I really didn’t receive that very well.
When the conference was over, I ended up spending about a month researching the Apostolic and 5-fold ministries. There were some good reads out there, but I ended up saying; “Lord, I don’t feel very clear about how this applies to me, but if it is something you want me to walk in, then I want to, and I trust you to bring it about and show me.”
Flash forward 2 years. I have been working with a women’s ministry that I was introduced to in the spring of 2015, just before these words were given. My role in the ministry has grown and taken on aspects that find no place in any job description. I work in three different cities with three different leadership teams. Of course, each group has its own culture, and each one is evolving. With each new event, I see the apostolic role developing very naturally in me.
A diagram of a hand is often used to portray the 5-fold ministry offices. The Apostle is the thumb because it touches on all the others; the Prophet is the index finger, because it points the way for the church; the Evangelist is the middle finger because it has the longest reach; the Pastor is the ring finger because he or she is wedded to their flock; and the teacher is the pinky finger because they bring balance to the church.
When I first read about the hand diagram, and the Apostle being the thumb, I thought that the thumb touching on each other finger meant that the apostle would work with each other ministry gift. That is true too, but there is more to it than that.
The last event I attended was at the end of May, near Ottawa, Canada. The team there is so appreciative of help and so honoring. I was allowed to teach the leadership team on prayer ministry, sending a video weeks ahead for the foundational mindset to be established, and then teaching in person when I arrived ahead of the event, taking them through prophetic prayer and touching on deliverance ministry. This was the teaching role of the 5-fold.
Then, during the event, the Lord always shows me a few people that He is promoting and I get to talk with them about their promotion and how He sees them. Often that means helping them overcome fears about it or helping them to agree with how heaven sees them. This is a small part, out of many instances throughout the event that highlights the prophetic role.
In other team members, He allows me to recognize their gifting and encourage them in it. Often they are uncomfortable with their gifts and have not learned how to walk in them. I am able to come alongside and help them to understand and get excited about how they can build up the body through their gifting. This is one aspect of the pastoral role.
Many of the people attending these events are not yet Christians. Through the part of the event where I am a speaker, I am able to introduce believers and pre-Christians to a Jesus they have never met before. I introduce them to a tender and intimate Jesus who has really good news for them. I introduce Jesus, who is very much FOR them. In this way I get to touch on the evangelist portion of the 5-fold.
The role I play as an apostle in the 5-fold changes from moment to moment at these events and, really, in my day-to-day life too. This is quite different from what I thought I understood about the apostolic ministry when I just read about it. I love the freedom I feel in this role and the natural way it puts to work the things I have been learning for most of my life. I always knew I was not learning these truths just for me.
Often, in our culture, we get hung up on titles and either gravitate to or eschew a title that seems grand to us. In the case of the title apostle, I always think of how both Peter and Paul introduced themselves as apostle and slave of Jesus Christ. There is no being one without also being the other.
It is a beautiful thing to see the body of Christ; the church in action, come alive as each one is allowed to walk naturally in the gifting the Lord has given for the equipping of the saints and the building up of the church.
However grand or low we have appointed each ministry office to be in our minds, each office is simply the way that we are gifted to serve the church and the will of the Lord Jesus. “Now, I laugh at how I resisted the title associated with a role that sits so comfortably with me. It surely is evidence of the transformation that the Holy Spirit has made and is making in me.