The Ministry Gifts

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift….And He gave some as apostles , and some as prophets , and some as evangelists , and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:7, 11-13, emphasis added).

And God has appointed in the church, first apostles , second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues (1 Cor. 12:28, emphasis added).

The ministry gifts, as they are often called, are the callings and various abilities given to certain believers that enable them to stand in the offices of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher. No one can put himself or herself into one of these offices. Rather, one must be called and gifted by God.

It is possible that one person might occupy more than one of these five offices, but only certain combinations are feasible. For example, it is possible that a believer might be called to stand in the office of pastor and teacher or of prophet and teacher. It would be unlikely, however, that one could stand in the office of pastor and evangelist simply because the pastor’s ministry requires that he remain in one place serving a local flock, and he thus could not fulfill the calling of an evangelist who must travel frequently.

Although these five offices are all gifted differently for different purposes, they have all been given to the church for one general purpose—for the “equipping of the saints for the work of service” (Eph. 4:12).[1] The goal of every minister should be to equip holy people (which is what the word “saints” means) for acts of service . Too often, however, those in ministry act as if they are called, not to equip holy people for service, but to entertain carnal people who sit in services—church services. Every person called to one of these offices should constantly evaluate his contribution to the “equipping of the saints for the work of service.” If every minister did, many would eliminate numerous activities erroneously considered “ministry.”

[1] This is just another way of saying, “For making disciples of Jesus Christ.”