Team - Apostles, Prophets, Evangelist, Pastors, and Teachers...
I sat on the platform with the other ministry team members. Beads of sweat from the hot Haitian night trickled down my forehead as I stared out at the faces of the worshippers. Some were church members, others pastors, and still others had heard the loud music and curiously wandered in from the street. Glancing to my right and left at the other members of the team, I wondered what was about to happen.
We had no plan. We had no order of service. We each had messages God had placed on our hearts, but we didn’t know when - or even if - we would be sharing them. But the unique blend of gifts on the ministry team was about to unlock the power of Heaven in the room.
In the spring of last year, I had the opportunity to accompany Mike Brewer and a team of other leaders to Haiti for a series of meetings in churches. Most days we kept an intense schedule of at least two services in different churches.
Entirely by God’s design, the team was a full representation of the five-fold ministry gifts: apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher. These gifts, Paul teaches in Ephesians 4:12, were given “to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” This means that one gift, or two gifts, or even four gifts in isolation cannot build the body of Christ effectively. All five gifts are important if the church is going to be fully built up.
This was the first time I had ever been a part of a strategically-aligned, Heaven-designed spiritual SWAT team. The order of service would vary widely. Mike Brewer opened, as he had the existing relationships. We would then work together as a team to hear what God was saying for that congregation, and release it as we felt led.
No single gift or person was the “speaker.” We allowed the Holy Spirit to be the speaker, and each of us were simply the voice He was using and the gift that He needed at that moment. Sometimes not all of us had a chance to speak. But that was fine, because it wasn’t about us. When you insist on speaking, you make yourself the main concern instead of God.
In fact, in keeping with the Scripture about preferring others, it wasn’t unusual for people to volunteer not to speak at a service because he or she realized that someone else had the right message from God for the moment. If we did share, we all tried to keep our part as short as possible to honor the other gifts.
This style of delivery truly allowed the Holy Spirit to be in charge and be the primary speaker at each service. With the Spirit having all five gifts available, He could use whichever gifts were most needed in a particular church.
The result was an incredible manifestation of the power of Heaven. In my mind, the trip had originally been about going into the village churches, introducing miracles and healings, and encouraging the believers. God had something so much greater in store.
The trip became about activation. Instead of merely displaying signs and wonders, the five-fold ministries did what Paul says they will do in Ephesians: they triggered the Body of Christ to rise up into spiritual gifts. People who were healed began praying for others and seeing them healed. A chain reaction began taking place as people caught the message of Heaven brought from a full-fledged five-fold ministry team.
Healings happened in every service. Even the smallest of crowds saw many healed. Many were saved. Many were given prophetic words that changed their lives. Heaven rejoiced. Demons trembled as the power of God was unleashed in the nation of Haiti.
I don’t know if it is practical for every Sunday church service to have all five gifts in operation, but certainly every church needs to have these gifts operating. Too many churches only have a partial listing of the gifts in operation, and as a result the full measure of the power of Christ is limited.
The other key that made the giftings work was honor. No one gift was valued above the others, or less than the others. The apostle alone cannot release what all five gifts functioning together can release. The pastor needs the teacher. The prophet needs the evangelist. Gifts in isolation produce limited fruit. When the ministry team realizes their interdependence and no one gift tries to stand above the others, but instead honor and preference is given, it unlocks a new realm of Heavenly blessing.
The acronym SWAT stands for “Special Weapons and Tactics.” When the full power of the five-fold gifts are released in a church body, the full range of special weapons and tactics of Heaven are made available and it will “swat” the devil down flat.
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This teaching on Apostolic Ministry will lay a beginning foundation for you in understanding the five-fold ministry in the modern church.