There’s more than one way to plant a church, and a lot of that is determined by the giftedness and calling of the leader. This week we’ll be looking at the five different types of church leaders—Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Shepherd, Teacher—and what each of them means for church planting.
“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11)
A Teacher is on who is responsible for progressive growth in understanding and application of the truth. Teachers understand and explain. Communicators of God’s truth and wisdom, they help others remain biblically grounded to better discern God’s will, guiding them toward wisdom, helping the community remain faithful to Christ’s word, and constructing a transferable doctrine. Without the input of the other functions, teachers can fall into dogmatism or dry intellectualism. They may fail to see the personal or missional aspects of the church’s ministry. (Note: This definition is a composite drawn from Beyond Church Planting by Robert E. Logan and Neil Cole and from The Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch.)
Teachers often do well with staying on once a church has started, but with their emphasis on teaching those who are already believers, they may have a hard time starting a new church unless they are part of a team planting a church that places a high value on strong, solid teaching. Many Teachers focus their energy on the sermons or Sunday school programs, leaving other pastoral functions to leaders with different gifts. Others find a better niche teaching in academic settings—Bible colleges or seminaries.
If you want to find your own leanings and where you fall on this continuum, take the APEST online self-assessment inventory.