The River of Life is organized according to the biblical pattern of the five-fold ascension gifts (Apostle, Prophet, Pastor, Teacher, Evangelist) Elders and Deacons as well as Department Leaders and Team Leaders.
An Apostle is needed to Govern. He is one set forth with authority, who faithfully represents the purposes and intentions of God. An apostle will be involved in founding and establishing churches on a proper foundation.
A Prophet is needed to Guide. He is one who speaks forth directly what he hears from God. These messages may bring revelation, exhortation, give warning, or include prediction. A prophet’s ministry will also impart vision.
A Pastor is needed to Guard. He is one who feeds, tends to, keeps, and protects those who God has placed in his or her care.
A Teacher is needed to Ground. He is one who gives himself to the study and exposition of the Word of God to instill in the people of God a love and respect for the Word, and to bring them to a place of maturity in the faith.
An Evangelist is needed to Gather. He is one who has the ability to readily share the gospel in any situation and equips the Body to evangelize. One who has the gift of an evangelist has the special ability to share the gospel in such an effective way that people readily come to know Christ.
We should not categorize and box people into one ministry gift. People may function in different ministry gifts at different times or even during the same period. The ministry gifts were not given for the purpose of categorizing people, but rather for demonstrating and conveying the full headship of Christ. By studying the functions of the ministry gifts, we can gain a clearer understanding of His fullness. Although the pronoun “he” is used in this teaching, we believe there is neither male nor female in the body of Christ and therefore we promote women in ministry and leadership positions.
“But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men…” It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 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… From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Eph. 4:7-8, 11-13, 16
An Elder is one who is responsible for spiritual oversight and care of the local assembly. Elders are chosen by God and ordained by Pastoral leadership. The qualifications for elders (I Tim. 3:1-7) are also foundational qualifications which all persons in the five-fold ministry must meet.
“Paul & Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.” Acts 14:23
A Deacon is a servant who is set in charge of and attends to Church business. Deacons are set in office by the leadership as needed. This is not a permanent position, rather, a deacon remains in office as long as needed. Deacons may also be removed from office if they no longer meet biblical qualifications (I Tim. 3:8-13).
“In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the Word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the Word. This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioach, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.” Acts 6:1-6