God has empowered five major 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?
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.