By Paul Wilkinson

Mike Breen in Creating a Discipling Culture offers a helpful image of the fivefold ministry. In addition, he highlights the consequences of immaturity in each role. I share these ideas with you because, in understanding these roles, we can do two things: empower our group members to fulfill their calling in Christ and maintain unity in the body by not forcing our role on someone else.
The definitions come from page 25 of Spiritual Leadership by Jeff Iorg, the core question comes from Breen, and the immaturity comments come from Breen.


  • Evangelists share the gospel and train others to share the gospel.
  • Core Question: Are new people entering into the Kingdom of God?
  • Immature Evangelists:
    • Reduce the gospel to simply getting out of Hell.
    • Move on immediately after conversion to get to the next unbeliever rather than walking with the new convert.


  • Apostles are pioneers sharing the gospel in new communities or new ways.
  • Core Question: Are we leading the people of God to their destiny?
  • Immature Apostles:
    • Lack discernment between good ideas that they have and the innovative ideas that God has given them.
    • Lack follow-through, e.g., throwing out new ideas but never working them to fruition.


  • Pastors care for and coordinate believers ministering together.
  • Core Question: Are the people of God caring for and showing compassion for people?
  • Immature Pastors:
    • Lack the confidence or skill to move people forward out of their struggles into the kingdom life and work.


  • Prophets speak truth and call people to live up to God’s standards.
  • Core Question: Are the people of God hearing his voice and responding appropriately?
  • Immature Prophets:
    • Share what God’s vision is and then they provide the interpretation of the vision themselves rather than giving it to the faith community to interpret.
    • Have a tendency to assume that they are always correct.


  • Teachers instruct believers and help them apply the Bible to life.
  • Core Question: Are the people of God immersing themselves in Scripture and incarnating it?
  • Immature Teachers:
    • Allow Scripture to be the end rather than the Triune God, e.g., they make the Bible their idol.
    • Rely on their own intellectual prowess to impress people rather than the authority of Scripture.