Gifts, Roles & Ministries: Levels of Gifting & Service
The Context Of Spiritual Gifts: The Body Of Christ
In 1 CORINTHIANS 12:12-30; EPHESIANS 4:1-16 Paul places the gifts of the Spirit firmly in the context of the Body of Christ - The Church. He says that just as an individual's body consists of different parts, each of which has a specific job to do and without which the body would cease to function, so the Body of Christ - The Church - is made up of different individuals, each of whom is gifted by God to perform a particular role and ministry. When each part of the body functions properly, the person is healthy. But if one part is not functioning, the rest of the body suffers. In the same way, no-one in the Church is redundant or not needed, and no-one can think of himself/herself as more important than anyone else. Each of us has a role to play for the Body to be healthy.
The Roles Within The Body Of Christ In Chronological Order
In 1 CORINTHIANS 12:27-30; EPHESIANS 4:1-13 Paul lists a number of roles that grow out of the particular anointings the Spirit gives individuals as follows -
• Miracle workers
• Tongues speakers
The reason these are in order from first onwards is because that's the order in which the gifts and roles are needed to plant and grow a church, not because some are more important than others.
When a new church is to be planted, the first people are the church planters, or APOSTLES (Greek apostolos = 'sent one', which is the same as the Latin word that gives us 'missionaries').
As soon as a small fellowship has been planted, they need PROPHETS to speak out what God wants to say, EVANGELISTS to spread the Good News of the Gospel (Greek euangelion), PASTORS to shepherd the growing flock, and TEACHERS to teach the fundamentals of the faith and to ensure a solid foundation on Jesus Christ.
Along with these you need ADMINISTRATORS to see to the practical day-to-day business side of things, and others to show COMPASSION / HELP and the love of Christ to a hurting community.
The Difference Between Gifts & Roles
The difference between gifts (Greek charismata) and roles (Greek diakoniai) lies in the regularity with which the particular gifts are exercised by different members in a fellowship. After a while it becomes clear that the Holy Spirit seems to gift certain individuals with specific gifts (eg prophecy or teaching) and they become known within the fellowship as fulfilling the roles of prophets and teachers.
In time these roles become recognised ministries (Greek word energemata meaning 'works') that are exercised sometimes in the local church and sometimes further afield as the LORD expands the work. This can be seen in the Book of ACTS, where we see Philip first of all, and then Peter and John, moving out from the home church in Jerusalem, first to Samaria (ACTS 8:4-25), and then further afield to Antioch, where Barnabas and Paul plant a thriving church (ACTS 11:19-30).