The Importance of the Ephesians 4 Gifts for the Mission of the Church -An article (based on my 3 min talk) written for the AWSC newsletter following the 2019 Hui,Tikanga Pakeha
But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it…So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers. (Ephesians 4:7,11)
This scripture clearly indicates that these gifts are for each one of us. Jesus modeled each of these gifts perfectly. He then spread these gifts among his body calling us to work together to fulfill his mission.
Unfortunately much teaching on spiritual gifts has combined lists of gifts together without taking into account the message the author was conveying in each passages.
If you have ever experienced the effect of wearing polaroid sunglasses to see into water, you will know they can give much clearer vision than you would have without them. Operating in the gift Jesus has given us is like wearing a pair of glasses. Some things are very clear to us yet others cannot see as clearly. Conversely some things we may be blind to, yet others will see clearly.
We need more than Teachers and Shepherds…
The two gifts we are most familiar with are the shepherds and teachers.
Shepherds: are relationship orientated and are naturally good at building community. They love to see people included, cared for and restored.
Teachers: are information orientated and love to search out facts. They are good at bringing clarity.
The life cycle of a movement chart shows that movements usually begin when the energy from people with the apostolic and prophetic gifts release something new. New energy brings growth.
The evangelist gift draws in and welcomes more people. Now the shepherd and teacher gifts, which comprise approximately 70 % are needed to consolidate the work.
However over time the movement will gradually decline unless the apostolic and prophetic gifts continue to be placed where they can bring renewal.
We tend to attract, multiply and promote those with similar gifting to ourselves. With approximately 70% shepherd / teacher gifting in our churches the democratic process gradually works to edge out the apostolic and prophetic people. If their gifts find no place they may go off to start a new project or join a newer church or organisation.
So what do these three missing gifts look like? How can we identify those who Jesus has gifted to bring renewal to the church and help us engage in the mission of the church?
Apostles: love change and innovation. They enjoy pioneering new ground or but some are especially gifted at refounding/reshaping existing structures that are not working.
Prophets: encourage us to connect to and listen to God’s heart. They care about righteousness, social justice and prayer.
Evangelists: are great people gatherers with a heart for others to know Jesus
It is worth noting that our giftedness is not an excuse to avoid the challenge of the other areas. The call to mature in Christlikeness is a call to grow in each of the five areas. All five facets of Jesus’ ministry are needed by the church to fulfill the mission of God to the world. We need leaders in each of these areas.
Putting it all together….
- So when apostles see a new challenge they are likely to say “Let’s climb this mountain!”
- The prophets may reply “Wait! Let’s make sure it is the right mountain!”
- The evangelists may add, “Let’s see how many people we can gather up to join us!”
- The shepherds may respond, “Let’s make sure everyone is safe.”
- A teacher may offer, “I’ll show you how to climb. Follow me!”
Rev Kaye Dyer Priest Assistant , The Church of Nativity, Blenheim