Mike Breen offers a helpful analysis of our development in our ministry roles in his book Building a Discipling Culture. He argues that we are each hardwired with a base ministry but that, over time, the Lord stretches us to learn other ministry functions for the sake of having larger and larger kingdom impact. The model looks like this:
I’ve shared with you my personal diagram. My base role is pastoral, meaning that I enjoy, receive energy from, and derive purpose from walking through life with God’s people helping them to engage one another and engage a hurting world.
But God has stretched me greatly in many of the other roles. Through my studies in philosophy and my 5 years teaching Bible, theology, and apologetics at Brentwood Baptist, the Lord has formed me into an adequate teacher who really enjoys helping people know God more deeply and live out God’s mission more fully.
Because of my study of philosophy, which quickly and inevitably translates into apologetics in the local church, the Lord stretched me in evangelism. Defending the faith and questioning other worldviews has been a fruitful field of evangelism and evangelistic training of others.
In my job caring for adult groups, the Spirit is pushing me into becoming more apostolic. By default, I want to tinker with and perfect systems, yet, as we all know, there are more people needing to be saved, more people needing to be connected, and more people needing to be taught God’s Word. Thus, we need new groups with new leaders to reach new people.
I’m not sure how God might stretch me in prophetic roles, but I do know that after being stretched in each phase, God has brought be back to the pastor He designed me to be. I still love teaching and do it as much as a I can, but I am not looking to simply give information to a group or to simply teach a group how to think better. Instead, I’m fishing for people who are ready to walk through life in a more transparent way as Jesus did with Peter, James, and John for the sake of developing them into disciplemakers. I still love evangelizing through apologetics, but part of the reason I do is so that I can invite the new convert along into a discipling relationship. We will always return to our base role as we are hardwired that way but, throughout our lives, the Lord will develop other skills and values in us to make us more well-rounded and impactful for the kingdom.
I pray you learn your base role and I pray that you remain open to the way the Lord will move you and stretch you to become all that Christ intends for you to be!
To find your base role, utilize this Fivefold Ministries’ handy website.