Following on from Richard Wightman's Vision Sunday preach, Sharon Clark preached on being a gift to the city at our Wolverton Mill Site. She encouraged people who were unsure of their gifting to begin exploring by using a quick test on this website:
Read on to find out what else she said.
As scattered servants, we take the presence of God into every place we go – our workplaces, our schools, our shops, our parks and leisure facilities. Something that has really caught my attention over the past few weeks in relation is this:
We are a gift to our city – that perhaps sounds terribly arrogant, but bear with me as I unpack that a bit.
Let’s read from Ephesians chapter 4 vv 8 – 12:
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.”
(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his 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.
The context of the gifts is the ascension of Jesus, and so our understanding of their purpose must start from understanding his enthronement. I John 3 v 8 tells us that Jesus was revealed to destroy the works of the evil one. He is the one that brought about the abolition of the enemy’s power and the resulting dethronement of the principalities and powers. All authority and power is His.
From this comes an assignment for us - to see Jesus in everything – and when we do to be a people of proclamation – revealing the truth to those around us. It is a sad fact that in modern society Christians are often better known for what they stand against than what they stand for. We are called to proclaim the good news of Jesus – but too often we spend our time wringing our hands and lamenting over the bad news of enemy. We transform society by proclaiming and demonstrating what is right, rather than simply protesting and tearing down. We can release the kingdom through positive changes to culture – within church, within workplaces, within schools, within our city’s government, within the city as a whole.
Also what we see the ascended Jesus modelling is a culture of gift giving – of blessing. He send the Holy Spirit, and He gives us gifts. It is good for us to model what Jesus models – being a blessing to those around, using the gifts to bless – in fact being gifts.
So returning back to Ephesians 4 verses 12 and 13: So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.
Most often these categories of people – known in Christian circles as the five-fold ministries – are discussed in the context of church life. The focus is on the final phrase ‘so that the body of Christ may be built up’. However, the previous phrase ‘works of service’ uses the word ‘ergon’ which means the business, labour, employment, that which anyone is occupied, effort or occupation.
This scripture does not say Jesus gave five-fold ministry gifts to only serve the local church, but to equip all who follow him for work. And since most of us work in the marketplace, it is reasonable to assume that we should be using these gifts out in our workplaces and in our community as a whole.
When you take time to think about it most secular organisations already apply five-fold leadership without realizing it is rooted in the Bible. These companies already make good use of such leadership gift such as:
I have a vision for Milton Keynes – I’ve lived here for about 30 years now. And while I wasn’t particularly enthralled with it when we first moved I can now honestly say I love this city and I long to see it become the most amazing place to live, to work, to raise children. So my challenge for all of us today is to look at ways we can step into our supernatural leadership gifts in order to bless our city in this coming year.
Now, you may think you don’t have any of these gifts. That you aren’t a prophet or an evangelist or an apostle, but I would argue that we all have these gifts to some degree. As Christians, Christ lives within us and we reflect Him through our words and actions, and therefore we have the potential to be all of these things at different times and in different measures.
Here is a quick exploration of what the five-fold ministries look like out in the world. (Credit goes to Dr Jim Harris for the source material. He has much more in-depth material on his website - do check it out: www.drjimharris.com)
An apostle is someone who is sent out for a particular task or role – they are the key messengers. In the church they are the visionaries who often travel widely helping to plant new churches and encouraging local church leaders. In the marketplace they are the visionary entrepreneurs – the people who establish new businesses and direct the vision of their companies. They establish and create new things because they are innovators, creators, and identity givers to their organizations, as well as being fathers or mothers to their team setting the right environment for maximum productivity and impact.
Some Biblical examples of business apostles include Paul (tent maker), Joseph and Daniel (administrators), and Nehemiah (architect/building contractor).
Some key characteristics:
Because they are the ones who set the pace and create new things, they possess a strong desire to train up others to maximize their impact for the kingdom. They will mentor, coach and train up the next generation, and are willing hand things on.
A prophet is somone one who is moved by the Spirit of God to share God’s mind and heart with others. Within the church they generally serve as spiritual advisers to the leadership, helping to clarify, confirm and emphasise the word of God. In business they are strategists who create and evaluate business plans and implementation of actions. They possess a supernatural gift of marketplace timing, sensing the right opportunities in the right market space at exactly the right time.
According to Dr. Bill Hamon in his book, The Day of the Saints, “more than 90% of the prophets in the Old Testament never functioned inside the walls of the temple. Most were business people or government officials.” Some Biblical examples include Nathan (David’s staff member), Deborah (judge), Amos (farmer), and David himself (shepherd, warrior, king).
Some key characteristics are:
Because they can sense the future and adjust plans to be successful, they tend to partner with those who have the same gift to maximize the impact for the kingdom.
The challenge with this gift is coping with being outcast, shut down, excluded, and ignored because not everyone welcomes the truth or revelation – both within church and in the business world.
The pastors care for the team and watching out for enemies on the attack. In the church they care and support those who have specific need but are also encouraging and caring of everyone.
In the business world they are the people who help the team mature. They develop strong relationships and build community – not surprisingly they tend to be found in roles such as human resources, counselling, medical staff and nurses, and service professionals. Some Biblical examples include Gaius (host to the saints), Nymphas (home church leader), and Timothy (church planter & team builder).
Some key characteristics are
They are the go-to people when the team breaks down, or when major change creates uncertainty, or when and people need a human touch. They are probably the ones who create “What If” scenario plans of action in case of a failure or misstep.
Their key mandate is to create and implement the organizational culture so the people can become all God intends for them to be.
Teachers, as you would suspect, are people who teach. In the church, they will have studied the Bible and gathered life experiences – both their own and other people’s stories – in order to teach and encourage. In business these are trainers, coaches, supervisors, technicians, and even managers.who are called to study, discern, release wisdom and knowledge to grow the skills of others. They interpret the vision of the company and provide are critical pathway toward supernatural execution and sustained corporate results.
There are many Biblical examples including Jesus (of course), Ezra and Moses (teachers of the Law), and Jethro (executive coach).
Some key characteristics are:
They are generally the people teaching the ‘how to’ implementation of a vision in in terms of an individual’s role, responsibilities, and job functions. They love to bring out the best in others.
Business teachers are the key leaders that coach up and prepare the team with the skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary for success.
Evangelists are the announcers of good news. In the church they proclaim the love of Jesus and invite people into relationship with him. In the business world they possess a supernatural gift of zeal for their product or service. They are passionate to get out the good news, of broadcasting the amazing advantages and power of the services and products they offer.
In the words of personal development icon Dale Carnegie, they know “How To Win Friends and Influence People”. They touch the hearts and souls of others through their overwhelming enthusiasm and focus on “closing the deal.”
Some Biblical examples of business evangelists include Philip (food distributor), Andrew (fisherman and disciple recruiter), and the woman at the well (community outreach).
Some key characteristics are:
Knowing that entering “enemy” territory alone is a risky busines, they often look for others to join their team and their cause, but are also willing to pay the price of being pioneers. They will encourage others to speak up, train them to take territory from competitors and champion a positive work culture.
So there you have it – the five-fold ministries operating both inside and outside the church. Perhaps you recognised yourself amongst those descriptions. If you are unsure which gifts you have there is a very simple online test you can do to give you an indication: