God has made a special provision for attaining spiritual maturity, which Paul recorded in Ephesians 4:11: “It was he [the risen Christ] who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers” (niv). Five main ministries are mentioned in this verse: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. The following verses tell us their purposes:
To prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (verses 12–13 niv)
This passage spells out two purposes for these various ministries. The first is to prepare us for works of service. We cannot automatically do the work that we are expected to do; we must be prepared, or trained. These five ministries are there to train us.
The second purpose is to build up the body of Christ. These ministries are placed within the body of Christ in order to bring us into a unity of faith and maturity. Jesus Christ, as Head of the church, has provided these ministries, and I believe that God’s people will never attain maturity without them. Paul continued, “From him [Christ] the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (verse 16 niv).
The ultimate goal is not a lot of separated, isolated individuals, each one doing his own thing. Rather, the goal is a single body, held together by ligaments—strong bands that hold the various parts together, building up the body so that it can grow. It is essential that each part of the body does its work.