The Shepherd Connection


Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XXVII

Let’s examine how the shepherd can relate to the evangelist, teacher, prophet, and apostle to bring maturity to individual Christian growth and unity to the Body of Christ. Strong relationships are reciprocal, so lets see what the shepherd can give to the others and receive from them and why they need each other.

Shepherd/Teacher: The shepherd and teacher can work hand in hand because their focus is on “maturing” the saint into the image of being a  godly, Christ-like person. This faith journey must be grounded in the Logos Word, the Bible, yet lived out in practical everyday life as a living Rhema Word. Who better to walk out this new life with a shepherd than a teacher? Since “all things are new” when being born again, a teacher is necessary to instill Biblical principals as a foundation. A convert who has a shepherd on one side and a teacher on the other walking with him is a fortunate person. The five fold can offer that!

Shepherd/Prophet: When facing the challenges of everyday life, one can lose focus and be distracted. The shepherd works daily with a a new convert’s spiritual walk, but the prophet keeps one’s focus on God, his Son, Jesus, and through the Holy Spirit. The shepherd teaches one to walk with God; the prophet teaches one to hear from God through the voice of the Holy Spirit. The more righteous the walk, the more obedience to the voice is required, the more mature a Christian becomes into the image of Jesus. The shepherd and prophet need one another in their own practical daily walks and spiritual journeys.

Shepherd/Apostle: Even with all the nurturing that you have received, did you ever ask how you “fit” into the picture of your local church or the Church as a whole? As the shepherd works with your development toward becoming a “mature” believer in Jesus, the apostle specializes in networking the pieces together, seeing over what the Holy Spirit is doing in each believer’s personal life and the life of the Church as a whole. As the convert grows, the apostle “sees over” the walk he had with his shepherd and networks him with other teachers and prophets. The apostle doesn’t control the sheep nor tells the shepherd what to do, but he “serves” them to assure the growth of the sheep and the spiritual health of the shepherd.


The Evangelist Connection


Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XXVI

Let’s examine how the evangelist can relate to the shepherd, teacher, prophet, and apostle to bring maturity to individual Christian growth and unity to the Body of Christ. Strong relationships are reciprocal, so lets see what the evangelist can give to the others and receive from them and why they need each other.

Evangelist/Shepherd: An evangelist’s strength is in birthing. His passion is for the lost to find their way into the kingdom of God. Nurturing and caring for new converts is his weakness because his passion drives him toward winning the lost. Every evangelist needs a shepherd beside him whose strength is to nurture, guide, care, and “parent” these new converts in their faith journey. Since the sheep may get sick, wonder off, or even die, it is mandatory for the shepherd to be available 24/7 for his sheep. Personally, an evangelist needs a shepherd to speak advice into their own personal life to temper their zeal. The shepherd, on the other hand, needs the evangelist’s zeal to motivate his own life.

Evangelist/Teacher: An evangelist needs a teacher to ground his personal ministry in the Logos Word, the Bible. If it isn’t scriptural, it’s questionable. Also the teacher can make the Logos Word real by making it a Rhema living Word, applicable to everyday life, not just theological. This is to prevent new believers from becoming Pharisees, followers of institutionalized, structural, lifeless religion. Jesus was severely critical of Pharisees. A teacher needs an evangelist to keep his faith fresh, active, and alive. An evangelist needs a teacher to walk with him through his daily faith journey. Their passions are necessary to keep a believer in Jesus a living organism.

Evangelist/Prophet: To prevent legalism, the evangelist needs a prophet whose passion is to draw near to God. Rather than relying on programs and events, the evangelist needs to rely on the Holy Spirit to produce creative, relevant ways to share the gospel to win the lost. Personal prophecy can be an effective evangelistic tool as Jesus demonstrated with the Samaritan woman at the well. Words of wisdom and knowledge can be beneficial to winning the lost.  Since the evangelist majors in birthing, who better to work with than a prophet who majors in the spiritual. Prophetic evangelism could revolutionize the way the Church does ministry.

Evangelist/Apostle: An evangelist has a narrow view of seeing only a lost and dying world that need Jesus. An apostle sees the big picture, the Church as a whole. The apostle sees birthing as only the beginning of a process towards maturity in Jesus, so he directs new converts to the right brothers or sisters to be nurtured, cared, taught, and spiritually guided. An apostle needs an evangelist to birth vision and projects the group as a whole will develop.


King Authur, Camelot, and the Five Fold

Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XXV

The best way for me to understand the interaction of the five fold is to be a romanticist and travel back to the days of King Arthur and his round table in Camelot. When sitting around the round tables, all the knights were considered as equal, even to Arthur, when united. As long as they were willing to die for one another they remained united and stood strong. As soon as one knight felt strong enough to stand alone and oppose the others, the coalition would crumble into disarray.

That is also the picture of the Church historically who claims to be one body but has had a myriad of disapproving knights who have opposed the rest, bringing disarray and division to the Church. If there is such diversity and strong will among its ranks, how is the Church to keep the bond of peace and its commitment toward one another?

The Five Fold Round Table: ”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…..  from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:12,13,16) The purpose of the five fold is to birth, build, and release a mature man in the image of Christ while uniting the Church. It addresses both individual and the corporate growth of the Church. In the upcoming blogs we will examine how the five can function relationally in practical ways, by supporting, encouraging, and releasing their passions through service to one another while receiving them reciprocally. This is the plan that can effectively draw the five fold into one.



Accountability Through Relationships

 Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XXIV 

How can five distinctly different passions that brought division and sectarianism to the Church for centuries now be the glue to bring unity? That is a valid question. Like most of the gospel, the answer is simple: through relationships!

The five fold is about people, believers in Jesus, with different passions for service with different mindsets and points of view who are willing to “accept” one another as equal peers in Jesus by laying down their lives for one another. The five fold is about being in a committed relationship.

The twelve disciples were different individuals from different background with different passions, giftings, and personalities who even fought among themselves. During a crucial time of transition between Jesus’ death and resurrection and Pentecost, they did not abandon ship but trusted Jesus’ words to “Not leave Jerusalem, but wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:4-5) They remained together and bonded into a committed relationship, a committed community. Once the Holy Spirit fell on them, they became different individuals with different passions but with the same unifying message: Jesus!

To understand the five fold, you must understand the vertical and perpendicular planes of the Cross. The vertical plane is God’s redemptive relationship “with” mankind (John 3:16); the horizontal plane is God’s redemptive plan “between” mankind (I John 3:16). If you do not have a proper relationship with the Godhead and a proper relationship between believing brethren, you have hay, wood, and straw, which will perish. If your relationship with the Godhead and your believing brethren has been redeemed through Jesus, you have streets of gold; you have eternity. Without these proper relationships, the five fold will not exist because the five fold is about the right passions, drives, and point of views that bring us together, equip us, and matures us in Jesus. Each is an extension of how we see Jesus, what passions we have to serve Jesus, and our mindsets of how we understand and experience Jesus.

How are believers with five different persuasions to unite in Jesus? By laying down their lives through serving one another, giving to one another, while receiving from one another. Strong relationships are reciprocal. Up to now the five have attempted to stand alone, often competing against one another producing thousands of Christian denominations and sects producing a fragmented Church. To have an united Church, the five will need to bond through “serving” those diverse passions as equal peers in Jesus! The strength of one is probably the weakness of the others, so each needs to support, encourage, and stand side by side so their weaknesses diminish and their strength as a whole produces unity in the Body of Christ, the Church.

In the upcoming blogs we will examine how the five fold works in a practical way, releasing each passion in believers to serve, yet be accountable to the other four. 


How The Five Fold Works Relationally

Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XXIII 

If the five fold is to be a viable option for church structure, the Church will have to be a fluid, living organism for the Priesthood of Believers. The five fold must be viewed as passions, desires, and points of view by common believers in Jesus. Formal structures are not important; the building up and maintaining of peer relationships in Jesus is. If you pattern building a church solely on the blueprint of a five fold structure, it will fail, but if it is built upon the strength of five fold’s diverse passions who support, encourage, and stand by each other by willing laying down their lives for one another, the five fold will be an effective, powerful force of transformation unlike the Church has seen since the first century. Let’s examine each of the five passions, desires, and points of view.

Evangelist: An evangelist, who carries the weight of a sin depraved, dying world who needs Jesus, majors in “birthing”. They seek and serve to save anyone who doesn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus. Often new converts exhibit evangelistic zeal because of their newly found joy and peace in Jesus and want others to experience it.

Pastoral/Shepherd: The shepherd, who majors in nurturing and care, loves to do what Jesus told Peter to do, “Feed my sheep!” (John 21:17) Just like an evangelist wants to hang out with the lost, shepherds love to hang out with the sheep. They eat, sleep, walk, and talk to their sheep giving them guidance, directions, and keep them spiritually healthy to grow. They are people persons who think of others before themselves. There is no formula to be a good shepherd; all one needs is to care, love the unloved, hug the unhugable, accept the rejected, and invite the outcast.

Teacher: When we think of a Christian teacher, we think of a Bible scholar, but that is our Western mindset. The Jewish mindset is the Lamad method of “experiencing” what you learn from the heart, not the mind. Jesus taught the Lamad by walking with his twelve disciples teaching them how to “experience” the kingdom of God. That is why he taught in parables. Five fold teacher use both the academic and experiential approaches.

Prophet: A prophet’s desire is draw near to God, so listening to and being obedient to the voice of the Holy Spirit is central. He longs to be in the flow of the Holy Spirit in whom he has put his trust. He cherishes making the Logos, written, Word the Rhema, living, Word. The Word without spiritual life becomes legalistic, bringing bondage. Jesus gave his “life” in order to release the “spirit life” in man from any bondage.

Apostle:  An apostle majors in networking believers and “seeing over” what the Holy Spirit is already doing. Unlike hierarchal leadership, a believer with an apostolic passion is never “above” those he “serves”, but next to them as equal peers in Jesus. He is to never “lord over them,” but kneel in service by washing their feet. Jesus did this as an example for us. A believer with an apostolic point of view never controls anyone because he is never ‘in control”, the Holy Spirit is! He just “serves” as a shepherd to the Church!

In all five of these giftings, the Holy Spirit must be in control, for He does the work through us; that is what is unique about the five-fold.


Purpose & Mission of Five Fold: For Unity In The Body Of Christ


Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XXII

To understand the five fold relationally, one must understand its purpose and mission. Is the five fold to be offices to govern the church or are they passions desires and points of view of believers in Jesus? Let’s continue to look at their purpose and mission.

For Corporate Unity in the Body of Christ

                  “…..Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:16)

The five fold is not only for individual maturity in Christ, but also corporate maturity as a Church, preparing itself as a Bride for its groom, Jesus! The “cocoon” stage of the Church’s transformation is its preparation as a Bride. Ephesians 5:27 states, “That He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. Paul is addressing marriage in this passage, but in verse 32 he clarifies his real intentions, ”This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.”

Over the centuries, as the Church has been transformed from an organism to an organization, it has become tarnished and wrinkled to the point of almost being unrecognizable between her and the rest of the institutional world. It is time to bring life back into her, transform her back into an organism, washing the stains through His shed blood and power of the Holy Spirit to bring back its whiteness and purity. Because of the heat of persecution and transformation that will iron out the wrinkles, a cocoon stage is warranted. When the Groom, Jesus, returns for his Bride, the Church, she will be alive, beautiful, holy, and blameless! Wow, that’s faith, for it is hard to picture that through my natural eyes, but God sees it through the supernatural! That is Godly vision!

Godly vision for us may come through the five fold. God’s evangelistic vision sees the Bride “reborn” into a new image without “spot or wrinkle” but “holy and blameless.” God’s shepherding vision is “presenting to Himself the church in all her glory” by nurturing and caring for her. Jesus did not leave her as an orphan, but sent the Holy Spirit to her. He then ascended, giving “gifts to men” by forming them into “apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to nurture His Bride. God’s teaching vision gave life back into the Church by making the Logos, written, Word a Rhema, living, Word, so that the church would be an organism again.  God’s prophetic vision allows the Church to see itself as He does, a Bride without “spot or wrinkle”. Finally, God’s apostolic vision allows the Church to see the “Big Picture”, God’s Eternal Purpose, the reason and purpose for God to created mankind “in Our image, according to Our likeness”, and God’s desire to restore a fallen man and commune with him. If God can restore a fallen man, He is also capable of restoring a fallen Church!



Purpose & Mission of Five Fold: For Individual Christian Growth


Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XXI

To understand the five fold relationally, one must understand its purpose and mission. Is the five fold to be offices to govern the church or are they passions desires and points of view of believers in Jesus? Let’s continue to look at their purpose and mission.

For Individual Christian Growth

…..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.  ….. we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,” (Ephesians 4:13, 15)

The second purpose of the five fold is for individual maturity, the growing up “in all aspects” into “fullness of Christ.” Paul wrote in verse 14, “We are no longer to be children, tossed ….. and carried,” but we are “to grow up,” to learn to stand and walk as “a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”

Evangelical churches that emphasize “birth” are usually weak in Christian growth. They see large numbers get saved, but later move on to more nurturing congregations. Pediatricians help with your birth and early childhood development, but if you go to one as an adult, you got a problem. Pediatricians are for children, not adults! Christians who often chose to stay with their spiritual pediatrician, the evangelist, remain childlike in their faith, never quite maturing. They will always prefer milk over meat. Physically we are destined to grow as humans, but that is not true spiritually. We grow only as much as we allow the Holy Spirit to penetrate our lives. Spiritually we can choose to be babied by our professional church staffs, or we can stand and learn to walk in the Spirit. It is our choice!

How do we learn to grow? Churches offer Bible studies on discipleship telling you “how” to grow. The five fold has brothers and sisters, relationally, walking out your growth with you, standing with you, teaching you to take a stand in your faith walk by experiencing it with you. As younger siblings look up to older siblings, Paul exhorts younger men and women to “hang out” with older men and women for just this purpose: to grow by example! Youth offers zeal, but if tempered with wisdom and experience from an older brother or sister will see mature growth.

The purpose of the five fold is “to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.” We measure our growth by how much we portray the image of the Father, the Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. In Genesis 1:26, “God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” We are to be God-ly, Christ-like, and obedient to the Holy Spirit. It is an awesome task which can be attained because Jesus modeled it! He hung out with twelve ordinary men, stood by them, led them, covered their backs, accepted them, nurtured and cared for them, and eventually died for them, all for the purpose of drawing them closer to his Father to make them “godly”. “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30) When you read about these same twelve in the book of Acts, your see totally transformed men who are “godly” and “Christ-like” in so many ways! The four gospels are about their five fold relational walk with Jesus, and the book of Acts is about their “growth” in becoming a “mature man” in the “image of Jesus Christ”.

That is the goal of the five fold: to mature the saints, to help them “grow up” into the image of the Godhead!


Purpose & Mission of Five Fold: To Equip The Saints…


Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XX

To understand the five fold relationally, one must understand its purpose and mission. Is the five fold to be offices to govern the church or are they passions desires and points of view of believers in Jesus? Let’s look at their purpose and mission.

                  To Equip The Saints…..

“….. for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;” (Ephesians 4:12)

One purpose for the five fold is “for the equipping of the saints”. If it were for the structuring of the church, it would read “for the equipping of the staff,” but it doesn’t say that. It is not a “professional development” tool.

One definition for “equip” is “to prepare mentally for a particular situation or task.” For what situation are we preparing our believers in Christ? For evangelism? It takes a special mentality to infiltrate a hostile world that rejects Jesus and share the gospel. What “necessary supplies for a particular purpose” do we, as a Church, “equip” them with? One of the greatest tools we can give them is to “release” and “send” them with our blessing.

The organizational church tried to keep William Booth in his pulpit, not in the streets, and would not release him to evangelize. He resigned, went for it alone, and founded the Salvation Army. Unfortunately, many believers with an evangelistic passion find themselves alone because the church won’t bless their “independent” endeavors.

Evangelists do not have to be alone when embracing the five fold because they have others supporting and encouraging them. A believer with a shepherd’s heart, standing with him, he can nurture and care for any new convert. Another believer with a passion to teach could share the Logos Word and help make it a Rhema Word in a new convert’s life. A prophetic believer would seek the voice of the Holy Spirit for guidance. A believer with apostolic vision would network this new convert with others to strengthen his walk. What greater gift can we give an evangelist than release him to, “Go do your thing; we got your back covered”?

A believer with an evangelistic passion often gets burned out and discouraged if they don’t have the support of their local church. But in the five fold an evangelist has a shepherd to nurture, a teacher to instruct, a prophet to draw near to God, and an apostle to “see over” what the Holy Spirit is doing in his life. That is equipping!

If we would approach equipping through the Lamad method of experiencing a faith journey with a brother or sister rather then academically instructing them, we would be more effective in discipleship. Am I willing to “lay down my life for my brethren” by literally being beside him in a 24/7 relationship? Jesus did it! If so, this five fold will work. If not, I will be inclined to outsource it to a professional, which is our current structure. It is all about intimate, sacrificial relationships!

The same is true with the other four passions. Equipping means standing by each other while “laying down” your agendas, passions, and opinions “to serve” one another!

As a church we have no idea what equipping means until we “experience” it! When we “invest” in one another, believers to believers, “equipping” will flow naturally as it did in the first century.


Prophets and Apostles: Five Fold As Passions, Desires, & Points of View


Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XIX

What is a prophetic passion and point of view? Prophets desire to draw near to God! Old Testament priests were created so man could draw near to God. Today, because the Temple’s veil being rent at Jesus’ death, any member of the Priesthood of believers may draw near to God at any time at any place!

A prophet also desires to hear the voice of the Spirit. Since every believer in Jesus has that capability, the challenge lies in being obedient to what one hears. The Holy Spirit constantly spoke in the book of Acts when the Church was an organism, but obedience is required. Ananias and Sapphira sold a parcel of land but fell dead after lying to an apostle. Their offense? “Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? (Acts 5:9) The five fold prophet knows not to toy with the Holy Spirit, but be obedient.

The desire to draw all men to God can be a bond between a prophet and an evangelist. Jesus used the prophetic to draw the Samaritan woman to the living water he offers. People have criticized the prophet for being too heavenly minded to be any earthly good. Being heavenly minded is their passion; the no earthly good may be their weakness, so they need a shepherd or teacher by their side.

What is the apostle’s passion? Seeing the big picture of the Church as a whole. He loves networking the other four passions to bring unity and Christian maturity. Being an apostle has nothing to do with administration or governing people. It has to do with serving people through relationships with one another; it is the ebb and flow of the Holy Spirit.

Even an ordinary mother can qualify as an apostle if she sees the big picture and experiences all five passions and point of view in her life. She has experienced birthing, has nurtured and cared for her family, has taught her children, wants every family member to draw nearer to God, and often sees the big picture of the family as a whole while networking family members to serve each other rather than bickering and fighting. What my mom? Yes!

The institutional church has apposed women in leadership over men because they look at it hierarchally, as a question of authority. The five fold is not about position or structure; its about relationship. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. (Galatians 3:28-29)” Relationally, all are members of the Priesthood of Believers, equal peers. If a mother has experienced making her family a living organism, why wouldn’t she be able to do that with her Church family?

A five fold apostle can relate to his peers since he/she has also experienced the five passions in his/her past. He/She understands the different points of view through the lens of their passions, and can network the five together. He/she allows one to lead while the other four passions support and encourage that leader by serving through their own personal passion while laying down their life for one another. The apostle knows about networking because it is all about relationships.

Instead of isolation among the five diverse passions in the church which brought division, destruction, and devastation, the apostolic believer can bring his diverse brothers/sisters together to function in unity as a body, as a Bride, as a Priesthood, as a Church. It is all about relationships; all about trusting one another; all about trusting the Holy Spirit; and all about laying down your life relationally for each other. 


Teaching: Five Fold As Passions, Desires, & Points of View


Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XVIII

We who have been molded by Western thought may have to view the five fold passion for teaching from a different mindset. We believe teaching to be academic, mental, and intellectual. Educational degrees are essential for advancement up the hierarchal ladder. A pastor of a large congregation is expected to have a Doctor of Divinity degree and be able to orate high quality sermons and extensive theological exegeses.

The first century church embraced the Jewish Lamad method of teaching from the heart through experience. David, “a man of God’s own heart,” learned to experience God. The 12 disciples were not Jewish theologians, but only reported “what they had seen and heard” when “hanging out” with Jesus.

Westernized theologians do not trust experience over “correct” Biblical doctrine, so they minimize a believer’s experience that may look contrary to their personal theology. They are skeptical in trusting the leading of the Holy Spirit among laity, advocating trusting church leadership and their Biblical interpretation over the leading of the Holy Spirit. This mindset is contrary to the book of Acts where the apostles reported only “what they have seen and heard.”

In America it is important to “know” data about something rather than experience it. Students are tested and evaluated on facts and measurable data rather than on their experiences. As a teacher, I know field trips are far more effective than lecturing. “Experiencing” a lesson gives insights academics can’t, yet the church still teaches mainly through sermons which leaves no room for inquisitive questioning for understanding. It is a proven fact that a well prepared, practiced sermon can be highly entertaining but not very effective in impacting the lives of passive pew sitters.               

As a public school teacher, I have changed my method of teaching according to the age of my students. You should do one method of teaching for each minute of a person’s age up to eighteen. Kindergarteners last five minutes or less. A senior focuses no longer than eighteen minutes. A good teacher changes approaches, styles, and methods of activity often during a class period to keep interest and productivity. Almost every sermon that I have heard in my fifty years was longer than eighteen minutes. As a pew sitter I have found myself losing concentration, focus, and even fighting sleep.

Sermons, as academic exercises, can be “about” forgiveness without anyone “experiencing” forgiveness. Peter learned forgiveness from Jesus after denying Him three times. Jesus allowed him to reaffirm his confession three times asking, “Do you love me?” Peter replied, “Yes, I love you.” Thomas never doubted again after Jesus let him experience touching his wounds and scars. The Samaritan women experienced Jesus as living water and being the messiah.

The Lamad method of experiencing, which has been aborted by Western intellects, must also be embraced if we are to understand the five fold as a living organism. The Church is still working on the teaching mindset.


Shepherding: Five Fold As Passions, Desires, & Points of View


Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XVII

What is the passion of the shepherd?

A shepherd is driven to nurture and care for his sheep. He lives, sleeps, and eats with his sheep who intimately knows his voice and become obedient to it. Human newborns are helpless, self-centered, and demanding. Their life is consumed by eating, sleeping, and pooping! “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (II Corinthians 5:17)”  Everything in Christ is new and unfamiliar. Guidance, nurture, care, and education is needed in this new faith walk called Christianity.

Jesus spent three years living, working, and walking with only twelve men to nurture, care, and prepare them for the future. He did not send them to a rabbinical school, a Torah College, or a Jewish seminary. Because He personally nurtured, cared, and taught them, they “experienced” Jesus. Jesus “invested” in them by taking His own personal time to walk and talk with them.

The “personal relationship” with Jesus as my Savior and Lord has become known as my “salvation experience” because it came from the evangelistic point of view. A shepherd would emphasize the continuation of this “personal relationship” in order to grow into a mature man in the image of Christ.

Jesus manifests himself through His Church, so “personal relationships” need to continually be established with an evangelist, shepherd, teacher, prophet, and apostle to maintain spiritual growth. Every Christian needs his peers, the Priesthood of Believers, the Body of Christ around him/her to assure that growth! The five fold is about building relationships to take one from their spiritual birth to being released as a mature man in the image and fullness of Jesus Christ!


Evangelism: Five Fold As Passions, Desires, & Points of View


Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XVI

 Would the church be shocked if it discovered that the five fold is not about governing, structuring, planning, or reorganizing, but it is about releasing the gifts and establishing relationships in common ordinary believers in Jesus Christ?  How radical would that concept be? Can we think of the five fold as gifts given by an ascended Jesus for His Body, His Church, or must they be tangible offices within a hierarchal structure?

Does an evangelist have to be a professional, a church leader, a person set apart to give a message of rebirth to a lost and dying world, or can it be a common, ordinary believer in Jesus Christ who shares his passion is to win the lost for Jesus? Not having a shepherd’s passion to nurture and care, nor a teacher’s passion to make the Word living, nor the prophet’s passion to draw nearer to God, nor the apostle’s passion to see the Church as a whole is not a flaw of an evangelist’s character; it is a weaknesses because of the dominating passion that drives him to seek the lost and win them for Jesus.

What if the five fold is for the Priesthood of Believers? Every believer in Jesus should want to share Jesus with their lost and dying friends, family, and neighbors, yet there are individual believers who are driven to evangelize. They can’t help themselves because winning the lost is all they think about. It is what pushes their button. Newborns in the faith often demonstrate evangelistic zeal because once they were lost, but now they are found. For them it is real; it is personal! Wallowing in the joy of their salvation, they want their loved ones, friends, and neighbors to also drink of it. They want to tell anyone, everyone about what “they have seen and heard” about this Jesus and how it has changed their lives. Their exuberance is contagious. Every believer needs a newborn believer around them to prime their pump to share Jesus with others.

We need one another in the body of Christ, or we are not a body.  Evangelism can be lonely profession. Often one must “raise” their own financial support before beginning or be willing to survive on freewill offerings.  It doesn’t take long to discover that church planting is not just about evangelism, for new converts need nurturing and care to walk this faith journey called Christianity. They need a good Biblical foundation and learn how to read the Word on their own and how to listen and be obedient to the Holy Spirit who was sent to teach us all things. He needs a brother to coordinate his evangelist zeal with the diverse passions of his fellow brethren.

If the church planter is driven by the passion to win the lost, to evangelize, he may not be the strongest shepherd, teacher, prophet, or apostle, and his work, and his church plant could suffer or fail. He needs other believers with the other four passions as equal peers to supplement his work, for encouragement, and for his own spiritual development. Every evangelist needs a shepherd, teacher, prophet, and apostle to speak into his life, to lead him into becoming a more mature man in Jesus Christ while maintaining unity in the Body.


Structure: Control of the Five Fold


Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XV

Dr. Bill Hamon in his book Prophets and the Prophetic Movement: God’s Prophetic Move Today (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image, 1990, p.24) teaches that in each of the last five decades of the twentieth century, one of the five fold ministries has been reemphasized or restored:

Decade                 Five Fold Ministry         Movement/Revival

1950’s                     Evangelist                               Deliverance, Evangelism

1960’s                     Pastor/Shepherd                     Charismatic Renewal

1970’s                     Teacher                                   Faith Teaching Movement

1980’s                     Prophet                                   Prophetic Movement

1990’s                     Apostle                                    Apostolic Movement

 Each movement brought a spark of life back into the organism as believers flowed in the newness of the Holy Spirit. Mistakes were made during the learning process, so the organized church tried to bring correction and maintain control.  To stifled any movement of God through the laity, organized leadership gave themselves titles, created offices, and minimized the influence of the common believer.

Evangelist: Billy Graham brought accountability and respectability to the office of the evangelist in the 1950’s. Prior to Graham, large evangelistic crusades with huge staffs, large budgets, and gigantic tents bled local church funding who supported them. The Billy Graham Association brought stability and introduced the world to the “televangelist”, bringing world wide exposure into everyday homes through television. The Church was experiencing the gift of evangelism in new ways.

Pastoral/Shepherding: The Jesus and Charismatic Movements of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s were faced with an explosion of unchurched conversions as well as the rise of cult activity and chaos. The Fort Lauderdale Five, five respected pastors, formed a “shepherding” movement to maintain control. Unfortunately they later had to repent of leadership abuse in spite of their good intentions as the Church worked through the gift of shepherding.

Teacher: Every pastor, speaker, or teacher had their sermons “taped” on cassettes or “burned” onto CD’s during the ‘70’s Word and Faith Movement. Jesus Festivals and Full Gospel Businessmen’s Association meetings were famous for taping speakers. The Word Movement forced the church to adopt new technology as satalite dishes brought live “feeds” of teaching seminars to local churches, as the church embraced the five fold gift of teaching.

Prophet: Small schools of the prophets released the “gift of prophecy” through the Charismatic Movement in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s. Mark Virkler and Bishop Bill Hamon taught the laity how to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit and flow prophetically. When abuse arose, the organized church stepped in to monitor and correct any “weirdness”. In the twenty-first century, only mega-prophets with big ministries exist, as the church is still working through the prophetic gifting to the church.

Apostolic:  With the release of four of the five fold giftings who were dominant when released and with the misuses in figuring out how they worked, the organized church took control of each movement in an tempt to bring stability and order. The church has realized that the apostle, one who sees the church as a whole, was vastly needed. Unfortunately the “office” of the “apostle” has been institutionalized even before it could be released on its Priesthood of Believers. The Church is in the midst of working through the gifting of apostleship.

A Look At Ephesians 4?


Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XIV 

To understand the five fold, please read the entire passage of Ephesians 4:1-16.

The first three verses emphasize Christian character, which Paul qualifies as walking in “humility, in gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, and preserving the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”. Unfortunately, Christian attitudes are often judgmental rather than gentile, patient, and tolerant.

The next three verses Paul clarifies “preserving the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” as being “one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” “Unity” and “oneness” is central to every believer and their trust in the Holy Spirit.

In verses 12 through 16 Paul explains “Christ’s gift” of “grace” by recounting how Jesus “descended into the lower parts of the earth” conquering sin and death, then “ascending on high”, taking with Him “a host of captives,” those previous saints who had waiting for their Savior while in the Bosom of Abraham. He not only raised the dead, but “He (also) gave gifts to men. He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.”

 What were these gifts? “ He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers.” I believe these gifts are believers who want to win the lost, to see rebirth, who want to shepherd the sheep, to nurture and care for them, who want the Logos Word, the written Word to become the Rhema Word, the living word, who want to not only draw near to God by hearing his voice, feeling his heartbeat, and being obedient to that voice, and who want to see His Bride as a whole entity, a living organism, the Church! His gifts to us, the body of Christ, are the passions, desires, and points of view of an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastors (shepherds), and teachers that can indwell any believer in Jesus Christ.

Why? “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.” Jesus did not leave his believers on earth as orphans, but promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide and teach them. He also did not abandoned his believers but gave them gifts, the tools, to “equip” them for the purpose “of service” to “build up of the body of Christ,” to “attain unity in faith,” to “attain of the knowledge of the Son of God,” and “to mature man to the fullness of Christ.”

What are the results if the Church accepts these gifts? “We are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming.” Each of the thousands of different Christians sects have their “wind of doctrine” that defines their uniqueness. Each believes they have the elite truth of correct Biblical theology, and all others are in some kind of error. If one looks at the wide scope of Christian theology proposed by the hundreds of Christian colleges, universities, and seminaries just in the United States, one would be “tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine.”

We are to “speak the truth in love,” but with all this diverse theology, what is that truth? The first century Church had the Apostle’s Teaching, a simple gospel, a simple message of what they “have seen and heard”. They taught Jesus! They also warned of wolves in sheep’s clothes would come “by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” and distort that truth. If there ever was a time the Church needs the “Apostle’s Teaching” it is today.

Paul admonishes us Christians in our faith to “no longer be children, tossed here and there,” but “to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.” CHURCH, it is time “to grow up”! To grow up, the church needs to embrace a spiritual metamorphosis, a transformation from structure back to relationships by which the Church was originally birthed! It needs to return to being a living organism.

One of the purposes of the five fold is to bring UNITY to the Body of Christ. The Church, “the whole body,” can “be fit and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, which causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” What are those joints? They could be the Five Fold giftings, passions, desires, and points of view that are available for every believer.

There, in sixteen verses, Paul introduces and outlines five gifts, five passions that Jesus gave the Church upon his ascension into heaven to equip his Bride for His return to her!  All the Church needs to be effective and united are in those five giftings and passions. 


What is this Priesthood of Believers?


Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XIII

 The Priesthood of Believers is all about the “priesthood,” the body of Christ as a whole, the Church, not the priest, the individual believer. The organism is more important than the individual components. It is a community of faith composed of God’s people as equal peers who give and receive from one anther. Jesus Christ is its High Priest, and it is lead by the Holy Spirit. It is a diverse group of people with different giftings, drives, passions, and points of view who still can come to a consensus because they are willing to lay down their lives for one another.

The Priesthood of Believers has no divisive classes or domineering hierarchal leadership structure since it is linear relational. Accountability comes through the giving and receiving through peer relationships. Respected leadership is earned by one’s willingness to lead when walking ahead, protect when covering one’s back, and encourage and reassure when walking beside another believer.

Why is the principle of the Priesthood of Believers so important to revival? The Priesthood of Believers is all-inclusive, all believers in Jesus Christ. Acts 2:16-18 states: ”But this is what was spoken of old through the prophet Joel: ‘It shall be in the last days,’ God says, ‘That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;  Even on My bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit and they shall prophesy."

God is “pouring forth My Spirit” on a lot of different people: “on all mankind, your sons and your daughters, your young men, your old men, even My bondslaves, both men and women". The Priesthood of Believes is an inclusive group through Jesus Christ. There are no class distinctions, sexual preferences, or elite groups. God’s Spirit is not just on the clergy, the professional, the ordained, or the privileged, but is IN “all mankind” who profess Jesus Christ, the Priesthood of Believers! Revival happens at the grass root level.

The five fold is five diverse passions and points of view, when evoked separately, can be divisive and destructive, but when given and received as encouragement and support can be powerful tools bringing Christian maturity and unity to the body of Christ. When believers recognize their five fold giftings, they cannot “outsource” them to another. Every believer is responsible for what he has been given. There is no room for passivity.

A church unwilling to abolish the clergy/laity divide will not be receptive to the five fold as a grass root believers’ movement. They will want to retain their titles and offices while accusing the laity of not submitting to their authority. A church willing to end to its clergy/laity divide and willing to submit to the Holy Spirit as its authority will be willing to embrace a cocoon stage and be open to transition.

If God’s people are the Church, then God’s Holy Spirit must work through all of them, not just a select few. All of God’s people are called to respond to the Holy Spirit. That responsive, all-inclusive group of believers in Jesus Christ is the Priesthood of Believers.



The Rise Of The Professional Clergy

Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XII

How did the clergy rise to power and create this divide?  Frank Damazio in his classic book The Making of a Leader (Portland, Or: Bible Temple Publishing Co., 1988, p.9) explains, “Another major cause of the Church’s unbiblical division between the ‘clergy’ and the ‘laity’ is the professional status the church accords to clergy. The process of elevating clergy to the status of ‘professional Christian’ follows a claim of logic that looks like this:

Since the:                              clergy          =   priesthood

and the:                                priesthood    =   profession

then:                                    profession     =    professional

  Therefore:                             clergy           =    professional.

Those considered to be in the clergy, therefore, were looked upon as ‘professionals’. Those who received a theological and ‘professional’ education were considered to be part of the clergy, or at least, well prepared for a particular denominational ordination. Neither of these ideas, however, are Biblical.”

Here we are in the twenty-first century still maintaining the belief that the only clergy can be professionals, those who have made a career out of what is called the “full time ministry.” Because they are paid out of the laity’s tithes and offerings, many in the laity feel they do not have to do ministry because “that is what we pay our pastor and staff to do,” so they outsource their obligations.  I have heard the Pareto Principle quoted that “20% of the people do 80% of the work.” I have no idea if that is valid, but very few of the non-clergy in most churches do very much of the work. The paid staff does it! Some believe the “lay” in “Laity” justifies being passive. I believe that clergy and laity want it that way. The clergy do not want to give up their pulpit, control, and power, and the laity enjoys being passive with no requirements placed on them except financial!

The hierarchal organizational church of the Dark Ages advocated the two class system: The clergy were educated and spiritual; most of the laity illiterate and secular. The clergy were set apart to draw near to God; the secular needed the clergy for confessions, the resolving of sins, penance, baptisms, marriages, and the giving of sacraments.  What brought the Church out of the Dark Ages? The invention of Guttenberg’s printing press, the Age of Enlightenment, and the Age of Reason when the laity learned to read the Bible themselves.

Martin Luther questioned the mother church’s institutional structure, power, practices, and doctrines that bred enormous wealth and corruption. His discovery of “justification by faith” and John Calvin’s “justification by grace” brought a spark of life back into the organism. As believers read the Bible for themselves, they began questioning official church dogma for interpretation, and life seeped back into the Priesthood of Believers.

Although Luther did not actually pen the term Priesthood of Believers, he did initiate the principle that all believers in Jesus were peers, equals in the faith, and could do many of the things that the organized church had prohibited them from doing. Ironically, as much as Luther advocated the concept of Priesthood of Believers, he felt forced to accept a hierarchal leadership model when State governments began to endorse State religions as Germany went Lutheran, the Czar went with Russian Orthodoxy, and England’s King Henry VIII formed his own church, the Anglican Church. Those rejecting State run religion fled to America where they placed the Separation of Church and State into their Constitution.


Some Tough Questions Being Asked?

 Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part X

In my last post, we were challenged during an Engagement Period, a period between where we currently are (Caterpillar Stage) and where we would be after a transformation (Butterfly Stage) during a metamorphic process by asking if we could face some tough questions without being offended or defensive? What might some of the questions be?

-       Must you be a church member to belong to the Family of God?

-       Does accountability to leadership have to come from a domineering hierarchal position? Can it come on a linear relationship where leadership could be in front of you to lead, behind you to protect, or next to you for fellowship?

-       Should we accept a clergy/laity divide as normal and acceptable?  Is there a Priesthood of Believers where all believers are equal in the body of Christ?

-       Does church government have to be run by boards, committees, and hierarchal leadership which creates power struggles and church politics? Can it be run on peer relationships and giftings among believers through the five fold that builds a consensus through service?

-       Can church positions be determined by passions and acts of service rather than through titles and positions of office?

-       Can pyramidal leadership who “oversees” through control step down beside or next to their brethren in a linear relationship to “see over” what the Holy Spirit is already doing among His people, then release them to do it?

These are tough, soul searching question that we need to ask during the cocoon (Engagement Period). Our caterpillar mentality will want to hold on to traditions while our butterfly mentality will want to be open to change and acceptance. Only a willingness by the saints (clergy, laity, & staff) to engage with one another as peers, equals in the faith, can one move the transformation of a caterpillar of status quo to a butterfly who will soar. All parties will have to accept one another as peers, as a Priesthood of Believers, with diverse giftings, opinions, and points of view that are valid.

Are you willing to lay down your cause, your opinion, your personal theology at the foot of the Cross for the lives of your brethren in order to come up with a consensus?  Truly, transitioning from a caterpillar to a butterfly will never come easy, but it must be done!


The Next Move Of God: Metamorphosis?

Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part IX

An infestation of caterpillars, multi-segmented, squishy-bodied, ravenous eaters who move in cumbersome, accordion-like fashions can kill foliage. Incredibly, they spin cocoons, havens of transitions, and emerge as a butterfly! I am not sure what happens in that cocoon, but metamorphosis transforms a caterpillar into a different bodied structure suitable for flying.

Two thousand years later, the church has become a multi-segmented body of hundreds of different sects and denominations that have become an infestation. If the Lord is to return to a Church without spot and wrinkle, a reconstruction is necessary if it is to fulfill its purpose of John 17, “I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity.” The Church will have to trust the Holy Spirit and embrace new mindsets.

Because the transformation in a cocoon is relational, everything will have to be taken back to the Cross. The Cross is a painful place, so transformation will not come without pain. Through the Cross the Holy Spirit is teaching Christians how to “engage” with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit through righteousness (John 3:16), and how to “engage” with one another relationally (I John 3:16) by “laying down your life for your brethren.”

Three stages make up the metamorphic cocoon process: the caterpillar stage, the engagement period, and the butterfly stage. To see how this works, let’s take the caterpillar church mentality of “You Must Believe And Behave In Order To Belong.” To become a member of most local churches, you must sign a statement agreeing with their professions of faith, theological beliefs, church bi-laws and behave like a Christian and fit in to church culture to be accepted as an official member by church leadership.

Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” challenges that concept. Before we even had a relationship with Jesus, he accepted us and paid the price for our sins on the Cross. As fallen man, we can be redeemed through Jesus, reinstating a right relationship with the Father. I John 3:16 states, . “We know love by this, that He (Jesus) laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” We are now called to lay down our lives for others. That is a new mindset because we have not thought of that relationally. Jesus never accepted sin, yet he died for the sinner. Jesus accepts mankind in both his fallen and redeemed state; it is man’s decision to accept being in a right relationship with the Godhead and his fellow man!

To understand the butterfly stage, you have to understand the social networking generational mindset of “acceptance”. To become a Facebook friend, you need only to push the “accept” button. This opens the door for further communications, which leads to sharing, accepting, or rejecting each other’s belief systems. Rather than behaving to be accepted, accepting Jesus will bring a supernatural change  in a person that naturally happens. In the butterfly stage, “Belonging Begins A Relationship That Produces Believing And Behaving,” which is completely opposite of the way the church currently thinks.

In the dating game, boy asks girl for a date (Caterpillar Stage). She accepts. They begin building a relationship and trust while discussing their belief, goals, and dreams. They get “serious” about their relationship (Engagement Period). After working through tough issues, final acceptance comes in a life commitment of marriage, now belonging to one another (Butterfly Stage).

What transition (Engagement Stage) is needed to change mindsets towards acceptance instead of judgment, tolerance rather than being demanding, be relational rather than structural, being an organism rather than an organization? These transitions are not easy. These transitions will not come without pain, anguish, and self-searching. They can only come if we are willing to ask the tough questions without being offended or defensive and seek those answers through relationships through the Cross.


The Next Move Of God: Metamorphosis or Urban Renewal


Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part VIII

I personally have witnessed grass root revival through the Jesus and Charismatic Movements of the last century. I have witnessed the rise of CBN, Christian Broadcasting network, and the fall of the PTL empire under Jim & Tammy Faye Baker. None of these movements were birthed through the institutional church, who became its critics. In fact the organized church still does not fully embrace the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the gift of tongues. They stifled prayer and praise meetings held in believers homes claiming they needed “proper oversight” by pastors, elders, and church leaders, taking the control out of the hands of the laity. Today, “mega-churches” with enormous budgets and staff expect the Holy Spirit to bring revival into their exclusive facility among its members. It just doesn’t work that way! Revivals have always originated outside of institutional church structures.

Sixty years after Jesus’ death and resurrection Jerusalem would be destroyed, Israel would cease as a nation, the Levitical priesthood would be dissolved replaced by a rabbinical system. Revival meant “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. [II Corinthians 5:17]” The Torah became known as The Old Testament, all things new in the Holy Spirit became The New Testament. Two thousand years later, Israel would be restored as a nation, but not their Temple or form of worship. What was once the new movement, the Church, now has become the organized religious institution as their believers flocked to enormous church buildings under a professional hierarchal structure of pastors. Will this repeated pattern again lead to its destruction, or will God chose to move within this already established framework to rework and recreate a new form or structure? Will the church embrace an urban renewal approach to revival where old buildings, old structures, have to be condemned and demolished before new structures can be reconstructed, or will it experience a metamorphosis, an internal restructuring done in the secrecy of a spiritual cocoon?

Although unprecedented in history, can revival, for a change, actually occur within the current structural framework of the church rather than outside it? In our next blog, we will examine the possibilities of a metamorphic change in the church.


The Clash Of Cultures: Traditions or Relationships


Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part VII

A friend of mine wished to host a Biker BBQ in a church parking lot as an outreach to the Biker community. Monies raised would support a Christian orphanage in Guatemala. His dilemma was the church’s “Sunday Worship Service” overlapped the time of his Biker BBQ.  The church at first embraced his endeavor having a “Biker Sunday” featuring a Harley Davidson motorcycle on the church platform. This exposed the clash of cultures as Christian bikers and church people participated in the church activities inside the building while the non-Christian bikers party hearty in the parking lot.

Why do churches feel you have to enter their culture before they will accept you? Why do Christians expect non-Christians to come into their unfamiliar church world rather than infiltrating the culture of the non-Christian? And they call this “outreach”? Only a handful of believers with an evangelistic passion were willing to skip “church” to serve chicken to the bikers and hang out with them, speak their language, and accept them for who they are, not what we, as Christians, wish them to be. Only after “church” was over did the church people filter to the parking lot to buy chicken, often sitting in their own clusters.

When is the institutional church going to realize that programs in their own facility is not the most effective way to evangelize the non-churched? One-one-one relationships built daily with friends, neighbors, and casual acquaintances in their familiar territories will build trust and open doors to share Jesus. Meeting them at their level is far more effective.

When Dr. Anthony Campolo of Eastern College spoke to a group in York, PA, he asked, “How many of you got saved through a mass Crusade, like Billy Graham’s?” One or two hands were raised. He continued, “How many of you were saved through radio or television?” Another couple hands were elevated. “How many through a church service? A dozen or so hands were raised. “How many of you met Jesus through one-on-one contact with another believer?” Eighty-five percent of those present raised their hands. The passion of individual believers to evangelize is far more effective than organized church programs. The organized church will spend a massive amount of money to support an evangelistic crusade program believing it is worth it if only one person gets saved. Common believers can do that daily at minimum cost just by building one-on-one relationships with people they know.

Maybe as a church we need to reexamine how we do evangelism. Only a change of mindset can take the church out of their culture into the world to be light and salt to it!