Is the Lord speaking to you about 5 Fold Government? I hope so. There are advantages to this form of church government. I prefer to use the term Jesus’ gifts instead of the 5 fold because Jesus is the one that gives the gifts. The 5 gifts are apostle, prophet, evangelist, shepherd (pastor), and teacher (APEST).
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13 (NIV 1984)
There are many books about these gifts. I will not repeat the material here. I want to talk about how to move to a 5 fold government in your church. It was a 4 step progression for us at Relationship Church. The last step is where the top leadership comprises APEST. These steps are what we went through. It may not be God’s will for you to move your church through all 4 steps. Positive results occur with each step.
“Why would I not move my church through all 4 steps,” you may ask? First, it takes years. We took 10+ years at Relationship Church. It should be shorter for you because there is more material on the subject now. But the Holy Spirit was gracious and led us forward as fast as we could understand and implement. Second, it requires great change in the leaders and the people. The journey is not easy. It is not the norm for church governance. Relationship Church is a small church, so it was easier – although still difficult.
Here are the 4 steps we followed. I did not know these steps ahead of time. I realized these steps when I look backwards and see how the Lord guided and directed us.
1. Recognition of APEST – Do you believe the APEST exists today? Especially apostles and prophets? If so, you must define what each of these gifts do, how they do it, and how they relate to one another. This is a key piece. Without this understanding you will end up with the same leadership doing the same things in the same way with just different titles.
2. Inclusion of APEST in Leadership – Assign APEST to leadership positions that match their gift. This will require reorganization of leaders.
3. Appointing an Apostle head of Leadership – The leader is replaced by or acknowledged as an Apostle. Don’t call the current leader an Apostle if he is not. This should be confirmed by other people. This is the start of changes too numerous to list here. A major one is that your leadership board/presbytery/etc. is now no longer majority rule. This is a major change that may not be worthwhile in your church. Most of the time it is not. This is why many Apostolic leaders start new works on a different foundation.
4. Replacing Top Leadership with APEST and other groups/leaders within the church report to this group. An APEST church that means APEST lead.
Pray to the Holy Spirit and see He wants you to do. This will be the perfect plan for you and your church.