Posted by: richard | 15 October, 2009

LifeShapes – the Pentagon

Knowing your Role in Life

I love the Pentagon!  I believe it is one of the keys to the renewal of the church and to increased spiritual vitality, missional impact, pastoral sensitivity, Christian discipleship and numeric growth.  Big claims for a simple shape!  There is plenty of further reading available that I can recommend and that has lead me to that conclusion, but let’s just cover the basics right now!

The Pentagon is about the five ministries that Paul mentions in Ephesians 4:7-16 (a letter destined to many churches, and not just a specific one, making it easy to broadly apply the principles within).  Traditionally these ministry gifts were seen as for church leaders only, but many recent interpretations disagree.  “For to each of us grace has been given…”  The letter is not about leadership, it is about the church body.  So we all occupy one side of the pentagon as our “base ministry” with which we are primarily called to serve the church body.  We are all called to use our ministry gifts to build the church so that the body of Christ may be built up and attain maturity.

The Pentagon of Ministries

The Pentagon of Ministries

The 5 ministry types provide different strengths:

  • Apostle – a sent one.  Vision-keeper for the extension of the church’s mission, an entrepreneur/starter.  Bring strategic skills, risk taking, get things off the ground (church planting?).
  • Prophet – providing a God’s eye view.  Provides the church community with challenge and a call to covenant faithfulness.   Strong on advocacy, justice, prayer.
  • Evangelist – gifted communicators of the good news to unbelievers.  Drives growth, ensures the call to salvation  is made.
  • Shepherd/Pastor – comforters/encouragers.   Provides stability, a sense of connectedness, loving community, discipleship.
  • Teacher – explainers of truth.  Providers of depth, discernment and focused on maturity.

These ministries need to be balanced to avoid their weak points becoming damaging or distorting to the expression of faith:

  • If Apostles dominate – risk of “tiring Christinity”, wounding people due to autocratic style/future-orientation, too much challenge
  • If Prophets dominate – risk of “one-dimensional Christianity”, with a ‘hobby horse feel’ and being either overly driven or otherworldly
  • If Evangelists dominate – risk of “shallow Christianity”, simplistic faith that does not deepen into real discipleship
  • If Shepherds/Pastors dominate – risk of “safe Christianity”, inward-focus, not enough challenge
  • If Teachers dominate – risk of “dry Christianity”, intellectualism, dogmatism

Following the Christendom era, it is probably safe to say that the church is currently weighted towards the “settler” Shepherding and Teaching ministries at the expense of the more pioneering (Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists) types.

We all probably have one (or two) “base” ministries that align with our personality type.  We also will have “phase ministries” where we operate with another ministry focus for a while… but probably we will be most used, and most useful, in our base ministry.

So what is your base? Are you seeking to grow in this gift and use it to build up the body of Christ?  I suppose we could ask the following kinds of (illustrative) questions:  Apostles – are you pushing forward the boundaries of the gospel? Prophets – are you listening to God and providing the constructive Godly critique the church needs? Evangelists – are you out in non-Christian circles looking for the opportunities to share the good news? Pastors – are you investing in people’s growth and support? Teachers – are you helping others to grow in their understanding of the good news? Of course, as Jesus performed all roles, we are called to grow in all areas too, but if we understand our primary calling we can be released to being the people we were actually made to be.

For those of you willing to invest $10 in this, I would encourage taking the “APEST test” at  It has been pretty well researched and designed, and it gives you a fairly thorough picture of your two top ministry gifts.  I found it to be somewhat more reliable than the Excel sheet I sent out.  If you do take the APEST survey, do talk to me about your results!

— Continue the discipleship and mission conversation ! —

Thanks for visiting! We have found Life Shapes really helpful in creating a culture of discipleship and mission as our home group has made the transition to an outward-focused missional community.  Why not follow our new adventures on (or via Twitter or Facebook)



  1. Do you have shares in Myers Briggs/APEST?? I might put it on my Christmas list… 🙂
    I’m very much a shepherd (no surprises there methinks) and very surprisingly a bit of an apostle, but definitely less teacher/prophet… good job I didn’t get that teaching job in 1996 then, eh?!

  2. I know, I should get shares! The spreadsheet questionnaire put me as Apostle/Prophet, whereas the APEST survey put me as Prophet/Apostle, which is probably closer to the mark. But similar nonetheless, I’m basically a visionary-starter-of-things-who-is-also-a-difficult-and-mouthy-so-and-so!

  3. I liked the pentagon, i came out as pastor/shepherd and also on the evangelist side wich was a big surprise maybe someone is trying to say something!

  4. I came out as mainly evangelist and pastor, (doubling the equéal scores for the other 3 apostle, prophet and teacher). Was not surprised for pastor but did not really believe it for evangelist as I always think I am not able to phrase adequate answers or comments on faith or God !

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: