Pentecostal Ministers & Apostles

Pastors, evangelists and other ministers play an important role in the Pentecostal movement.
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The Pentecostal movement began in the early 1900s in the U.S. Since then, it has become a worldwide movement, giving birth to more than 700 denominations and many independent Pentecostal churches. The common thread among all Pentecostals is their belief in the restoration of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, including speaking in tongues, prophecy and divine healing.

Different Pentecostal organizations recognize different types of ministry and ministers. Most recognize the ministries of pastors and evangelists. Some also believe that God has restored the ministry positions of teachers, prophets and apostles.

1 Pastors

Within Pentecostal churches, pastors are generally understood to be ministers charged with caring for the congregation. In most Pentecostal traditions, this involves preaching, teaching, praying for and giving spiritual and practical guidance to a specific congregation.

Pentecostals who identify with the Apostolic Reformation Movement, sometimes referred to as the five-fold ministry, define the ministry of a pastor differently. They believe that pastors offer practical and spiritual care, but do not necessarily involve themselves directly in the governance of the church.

2 Teachers

There is some debate amongst Pentecostals regarding how, or if, teachers differ from pastors. Some believe that teaching is simply a part of a pastor's function. Others, while recognizing that pastors do teach, believe that teaching is a separate ministry.

Most Pentecostal organizations allow both lay people and ministers to be involved in teaching ministry. Those who identify with the five-fold ministry hold that teachers should be recognized as ministers and afforded the same level of recognition as other Pentecostal ministers.

3 Evangelists

The vast majority of Pentecostal organizations recognize the ministry of the evangelist. Traditionally, Pentecostals have recognized all itinerant preachers and revivalists as evangelists. This view is largely adopted from the Methodist Holiness movement, which preceded the Pentecostal movement.

Many Pentecostals continue to hold this view regarding the ministry of the evangelist. Apostolic Restoration Pentecostals define evangelists as those who are specifically gifted to lead people to conversion to Christ. In their view, an evangelist may or may not be a preacher — itinerant or otherwise — at all.

Most traditional Pentecostals agree that leading the unsaved to Christ is a part of the ministry of the evangelist, but would contend that it is also an important part of the ministry of pastors and Christians in general.

4 Prophets

The ministry of the prophet has been one of the most contentious among Pentecostals. Pentecostals overwhelmingly believe that the gift of prophecy has been restored to the church, but they differ regarding whether there should be a designated ministry position of prophet.

Traditionally, Pentecostals have believed that the gift of prophecy is given as the Holy Spirit directs a person, lay or clergy, to give a divinely inspired message which was not pre-planned — as opposed to a sermon which is prepared in advance and preached by a minister. Most advocates of five-fold ministry restoration believe that prophets are a separate class of ministers who focus on delivering messages which provide divine guidance, protection, vision and correction to believers.

5 Apostles

While all Pentecostals recognize the importance of the ministry of the original 12 apostles, who walked most closely with Jesus Christ and who were the first to spread the Gospel, Pentecostals differ regarding what function, if any, apostles have in today's church.

Many traditional Pentecostals believe that missionaries fulfill the essential purposes of apostles in spreading Christianity and establishing new churches. Most traditional Pentecostals believe that it is unnecessary to have a separate ministry position and title for apostles, believing that the functions of the apostles continue to be carried out by pastors, evangelists and the governing structure of their churches. Some Pentecostals share the belief of most Protestant Christianity that the ministry of apostles ceased with the passing of the original apostles and Paul.

Adherents to the Apostolic Restoration movement agree that apostles are used to establish churches, but also believe that apostles are a separate class of minister whose calling is to provide guidance and governance to the church. In their view, apostles lay the foundation of governance and teaching upon which other ministers and believers build the church.

Dell Markey is a full-time journalist. When he isn't writing business spotlights for local community papers, he writes and has owned and operated a small business.