Football Time In the Kingdom

Five-Fold Gifting

While ministering in a Ministry Training School in Northwest Washington, I received a strong word for the pastors and leaders as well as the students. The word was to: shore up the weak spots on the team. They should look at their team like a Football coach would. Does he have qualified players at every position? How well do they work together, etc.?
God has empowered five different types of players on our ministry team (Ephesians 4:11). They are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Imagine if an NFL team took the field without tackles or guards or without any running backs or receivers. Or what would the team do without a center or a quarterback?

Even so, if any of the five-fold giftings are not functioning in our ministry, we are taking the field, week after week, with a major hole that the opposition will exploit to the max. Even if we have some of each, they need to be developed to greater strength and spiritual skills to avoid spiritual disasters, which are all too common in our various ministries.
The apostle (the spiritual quarterback) calls the plays as he hears them from the Head Coach. The center (the prophet) gets the fresh word (the ball) and hikes it to the quarterback, who is protected by the other linemen, the tackles and guards, (teachers who guard against false doctrines, and pastors who are shepherds watching over and protecting the sheep). The apostle then hands off to a running back or passes to a wide receiver (two different types of evangelists).

NOTE: When I use the term "pastor" I am not referring to the title we give church leaders, but rather those who have the function of shepherds who are close to the sheep and nurture, heal, feed and protect them. They are gentle lovers and more than visionaries and administrators.
The "running back evangelist" (the local church evangelist) will normally use the protection of the linemen to start his run, but his deep desire is to get past the line and run as far as he can into hostile territory to move the yardsticks forward.
The "wide receiver evangelist" (the traveling evangelist or missionary) is more independent of the pastors and teachers, and is looking for deeper penetration into enemy territory. He is willing to live without the safety and protection of his linemen. Instead, he wants the apostle to send him into more dangerous territory, where he will be attacked by the opposition team with great ferocity, because they want to stop him from doing damage to the enemy's cause. But he knows that the rewards can be extremely exciting and he loves to live on the edge and take risks.
Both types of evangelists will say with deep passion, "Give me the ball." They know they will probably get hurt in the process, but the cause is great and the rewards make it worth it all.

We can easily see the importance of all five types of ministries, but many churches and other Christian organizations would have to admit that they can't find some of these gifted people in their pool of available workers. What are they to do to fill the holes? That's a question we will try to answer shortly.

Spiritual Gifts in the Body

In addition to these five special ministries, God has given us several lists of spiritual gifts that He has given to the Body of Christ. I believe these are also very important to a successful and prosperous ministry that is not easily destroyed by our enemy.
We find one of these lists in Romans 12:6-8. These are called by some, the Motivational Gifts, meaning these are what some people enjoy and do well. They are prophecy, serving, teaching, exhorting, giving, ruling (leading), and shewing mercy. When people with these motivations are encouraged and affirmed, the difference is dramatic, both in their own lives and the life of the ministry.

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

The next two lists are found in 1 Corinthians 12. The first list in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 is the list of power gifts that make us a supernatural team when we are all functioning in our own gifts. They include supernatural wisdom, supernatural knowledge (which includes our ability to spy discretely on our enemy), supernatural faith, gifts of healings (both words are plural, indicating a variety of methods and types), miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues and interpretation of tongues.

For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

These gifts are extremely vital to the Great End Time Harvest of souls, or what I will call Rapid Kingdom Expansion (RKE). We can no longer use hand tools when God has provided power tools. We can see hundreds of demonstrations in Scripture in both testaments that prove the point that power tools get the job done when hand tools (parable speaking) won't.

Discerning of Spirits

Let me focus for a bit on one badly neglected gift. All our important but in these treacherous days, one gift is desperately needed to combat the wicked devices of the enemy to divide and conquer Christ's Body – His team before we can even take the field. The gift I'm talking about is the Discerning of Spirits.
The value of seeing with spiritual eyes is severely underestimated and our lack of it has allowed a multitude of problems and disasters in the majority of all ministries and churches. This is the one the Lord had me focus on more than any other gift, although I love the others and am personally weak in this one. Fortunately, my wife, Brenda, is strong in this one as well as the prophetic.
The other list in 1 Corinthians 12:28 combines some ministries from other lists with a couple of new ones, "helps and governments". We won't elaborate on these, but I believe we need them all.
So the question: "What do we do if we can't find the people with these gifts and ministries in our pool of workers?"

1. Make it a cry of your heart to God.
If you lacked a worship leader or a Sunday School teacher, you would pray and recruit. But spiritual gifts and ministries are even more important to God. When you begin to cry out for what's on His heart, you will be surprised at how quickly He answers you. It's kind of like when you ask for patience – He gives us lots of opportunity to practice patience.

2. Look beyond your current pool of workers. Look deeper and look wider.

Deeper: God wants us to raise up those who are the nothings and nobodies, the foolish things of this world (1 Corinthians 1:26-29), to amaze the proud, noble, wise and mighty. He gave these gifts to everyone, dividing them up as He desired (1 Corinthians 12:7, 11). Someone is waiting to be encouraged, activated and used for God. Use what prophetic gifts are available to identify ministry gifts and talents.

Wider: God wants us to look outside our ministry and partner with other ministries to bolster our weaknesses and help others bolster theirs. Nothing pleases God more than when we work together as one Body in a community. God hates what the enemy has done to divide us and God loves it when we make a move that unites us. (Photo via Wikimedia)
There is so much more to be said about this subject, but as Football season kicks into high gear, I encourage you and your ministry to think about the importance of every single player in every single play made by your favorite team.
What players are missing from your lineup? Ask God to show you what to do to build His Super Bowl Team!

Ben R. Peters
Kingdom Sending Center