Should The Fivefold Ministry Be Fulltime?
I have heard folks emphasize that they have been called into the fulltime ministry; Career Ministry. This means that they have to abandon every other work or job or business and be fully committed to the course of the “Fivefold Ministry”, whichever they belong. The Fivefold Ministry includes the ministry of the Apostle, the Prophet, the Evangelist, the Pastor, and the Teacher, as highlighted by Paul in Ephesians 4:11.
My areas as a minister, within the fivefold ministry, are Pastor and Teacher. These are the areas where I have received a calling to operate primarily, and anyone under my ministration will be quick to see the evidence. I am not an Apostle or a Prophet or an Evangelist, even though I can operate in these offices when necessary by the Holy Spirit.
Now, many of us who make a career out of the Fivefold Ministry believe that it must be run on the full time basis. Sometimes, we see other folks within this ministerial composition, who do other things alongside, as secular minded, uncommitted, distracted, and counterfeit. We think that for someone to truly and faithfully work for God, we must leave other job or business and be solely committed to the full time ministry; after all the Bible has asked that we must first in all, pursue God’s Kingdom and His Righteousness.
This is my experience really; a couple of people among my ecclesiastic colleagues have directly and indirectly opined that going into other areas like Penning / Authourship, Music, Life Coaching and others, means that I am distracting myself from the main task which is the career ministry. In fact, some have said that by doing those other things outside the career ministry, I am over ambitious and drifting away from the faith. They have thought that I do those other things in ulterior motives. Well, “Glory to God” is my response.
I like to focus on three points here – should the Fivefold Ministry be strictly a Career Ministry? Should the Career Ministry be strictly on Full Time basis? And is the Career Minister (within the Fivefold Ministry) superior to others who are professionals in other arears of career and yet minister the Gospel to others?
The Fivefold Ministry does not have to be strictly on Career basis, when a pastor or an evangelist is employed by a local Church to oversee her ministerial affairs, or in the case when an individual establishes a Church denomination and grows it. God has plans for others who are not Apostles, or Prophets or Teachers or Pastors too. Anyone can operate in the ministry of the Teacher or Evangelist (for instance), and yet be a part of an existing and formal congregation, where he or she functions within a unit as a leader or one of the leaders. God wills that all believers are part of the ministry (Eph. 4:12; 2 Cor. 5:18-19; 1 Pet. 2:9), and everywhere in the world is the field; the place of work or the market place, and that does not make them inferior to those of us who are into the Career Ministry. The point is that, even if you are into the Career Ministry, you can do other things, in as much as it brings glory to God and blesses humanity, while you effectively run your fulltime ministry with nothing at stake.
However, some people claim that they received clear instructions from God to lead the full time Career Ministry; that is fine! If that is their conviction, they should pursue it without any distraction. Such individuals must know that everyone cannot be in the same conviction in this case. Much as Peter was an Apostle to the Jewish Christians, Paul was sent to the Gentile Christians, and the Church of God must move forward – Galatians 2:7-9.
We must not forget even the prime duty or purpose of the Fivefold Ministry, which is to equip the Saints (other Christians) for the various works of Ministry – Ephesians 4:11-13. “Saint” here “άγιος” (- ágios in Greek lexicon) means the believer in Christ, since he or she is set apart or sanctified by the merit of Jesus Christ (in the various ways they have been called to minister). “Work” on the other hand is “ἔργον” (- ergon in Greek lexicon), which means: work, task, employment; a deed, action; that which is wrought or made, a work; business, employment, that with which anyone is occupied. And the word “ministry” here, “διακονία” (- diakonia in Greek lexicon) means, “service towards a master or a guest, at a table or in hospitality; it further means ministry or ministration, etc.”
In that case, believers are God’s-set-apart people, who are employed into the business of serving the master or his will at various “market places”. It is therefore clear that the Fivefold ministers are put in place to equip God’s saints, who will go out there and practice what they have been taught; what they learnt from the Pastors and Teachers and Apostles. It is clear simply, that the Fivefold ministers “replicate themselves” (or Christ) in the rest of the saints, so that they go out and minister the mind (will, message, intention, purpose) of the master to people.
Anyone in the Career Ministry can run other task that is not directly ministry-defined or related. It is only expected that believers must do everything to the glory of God and to the blessing of humanity; the Career Ministry does not have to be on Full Time basis. I believe that we must do anything we do very excellently, whether on full time or part time basis. Those of us who are Fivefold Minsters can do other things except in the case when a clear instruction is received from God unto exclusive full time ministry. Those that we lead, teach, mentor, and groom in the will and character of Christ, are by no means inferior to us; we are here because they are here first. I have seen brothers and sisters in faith, with such amazing grace for the Gospel that I so much respect and pray for too. Our ministry (the Fivefold Ministers) becomes necessary and relevant because they are available to be under our ministrations. So, the attitude of “holier and better than thou” must stop from the part of the clergy to the laity. I do not in any way affirm that the clerical office is as simple as nothing, or not relevant and highly placed. However, when it comes to earthly affairs, the clerical office is established to serve other of God’s people, because God loves them dearly. We are to serve them, and not to become their Lord (they already got one – Jesus). God will dispose or retire any minister who becomes a cankerworm to His people instead of a worthy shepherd.
It is true that the clergy are knowledgeable in their vocation; are they not chosen and equipped with such knowledge so that they can in turn impact the saints (Eph. 411)? Would there be Moses if there were not the Israelites in Egypt? Didn’t Jesus come simply because of the lost sheep of Israel and to reconcile men to God (Matt. 15:24; 2 Cor. 5:18-19)? The strength of the shepherd is definitely to the advantage of the sheep.
If I stay strictly with the fulltime or career ministry (as folks feel it should be), I would not have written books and produced songs that are blessing humanity today to the glory God, among other things I do; these things are convenient for me and I do them excellently by grace. The exclusive full time ministry (according to my setting) would leave me attending to registers in the office and preaching only once in a while, which will be killing me and eventually waste my prime-time energy and destroy my sense of creativity for versatility (since they say the young must wait for their time).
However, I would counsel that anything else that one would do apart from the fulltime ministry (for those of us who are into the career ministry) must not be in competition or conflict with effective pastorate ministry into which we have been divinely called, especially when such task (business) has personal economic value.
Those who feel led into exclusive fulltime career ministry should face it with all diligence, without under-reckoning those who are into some other tasks to God’s glory and human’s blessing. What matters is we must do all we do well to the standard of God, till the earth is filled with the glory of God, just “as waters cover the seas”
Peace and Grace to You!
– Solomon Ade-Ajayi Michael (Ade Mike) writes from Lagos.