The current state of the prophetic ministry and role within the church, is probably the closest to biblical intentions as any of the 5-Fold gifts. The New Testament prophet, and prophetic gift has some substantial depth and teaching in both the Charismatic and Pentecostal circles. If you have time, John Paul Jackson, Dennis Cramer, Graham Jones and Rick Joyner all have excellent materials available.
Our New Testament prophet is essential to that which the church is doing on a day-to-day basis around the world.
Ephesians 2:19-20 ...God’s people...[are] built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
1 Corinthians 12:28 And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers...
Like all the ascension gifts/roles mentioned in Ephesian 4:11, there are also the same gifting available to folks in non-leadership roles-- like you and me. After all, you can all prophesy-- well if you want to. But that doesn't mean that you will be at the level of a seasoned prophet. Like any calling, there is a blending of character, experience, shaping, anointing, release, timing and always God's sovereign hand.
In the church, especially with the prophetic, there are three levels of functioning that seem readily apparent. What I find, is that there is usually a believers level (all), a ministry level (set apart) and leadership/equipping level (5-Fold).
While I am on the subject, this is a great place to mention raising others up. I believe that we should all be training someone to do our job in the grand scheme of whatever you call church. If you are training someone to do your job cleaning toilets, lading a home-group, pastoring, helping, administrating, prophesying, leading worship, or evangelizing, that is is a great thing. If you do that, one of two things will happen. You'll get promoted to a different ministry, or you'll become the leader or equipper, in the ministry that you are currently in, that you were destined to be. There is no set path, or formula that I can find. We are to use the little we are given so that it can be increased. We will reap what we sow, and in the process, God will reveal the call on our lives and the destiny that we have in Him. Our priority is to be obedient.
Back to levels:
- There is the believers level. If you can all prophesy, then everyone can play. This should be encouraging and generally edifying revelation that is helpful to the group(s) that you are a part of.
- The prophetic gift. This is a person that has a high degree of prophetic ability. They are able to have success in not only bringing encouragement and direction, but will often function in words of knowledge, and possibly dreams and visions along with dream interpretation.
- The third is the prophet. His is a person with a very specific calling to be part of the leadership circle of the church. And, they may not be specifically in a local church. Most of the prophets that I know of, have an itinerant portion of their ministry. Our New Testament prophets often function in all of the revelatory gifts. Prophecy, word of knowledge, wisdom and faith, as well as dream interpretation, visions and dreams.
If the prophet is foundational, and he is according to scripture, then he will need to work with an apostle to get the foundation of the church in place. I often envision this relationship as a project manager and construction supervisor working together (not one over the other), to build the structural portion of the living, breathing church-- which is people. They are to set in place the framework for the pastor, evangelist and teacher to launch their local expression, gathering souls and discipling believers.
If we look at the Old Testament prophets, much of what we see is them constantly after the character of Israel. If Israel is a type for the church in scripture, and some times it is, then our prophets will need to be concerned about the character of the church. As Nathan went to King David, exposing his sin with Bathsheba, the prophets role will be one of character building. As other kings, even Saul, used prophets to guide Israel in times of battle, and Joseph was used to save Egypt from destruction by famine, the prophet's role is to help the church navigate her course to achieve her destiny both locally, and globally.
In the Old testament, prophets came in many different packages. There were the whiners; Jonah and Elijah, the criers and those with bad attitudes. In the New Testament we find the likes of John the Baptist. Prophets always seem to have some strong and distinctive character traits, and the doesn't seem to have changed. The purpose of the New testament prophet is to provide direction to the church, bring correction and warnings, foretell events in the world and in the church, equip the saints for the work of ministry, and encourage and edify the body. This direction often carries out the blue print of sorts, that an apostle will have. Both roles require revelation, but one is more visionary; the apostle, and the other is more directive and focused.
In the end, that prophet is essential for keeping the church on track, and working with the apostle to build a foundation on which the local expressions of the church can exist to win souls, and disciple its saints.
HERE IS THE ENTIRE SERIES