written by
Major Tom

The Five Fold Effect

30 min read

The blog post on spiritual gifts you can't afford to miss

Photographer: Micah Hill | Source: Unsplash

If you think spiritual gifts are just about people speaking strange gibberish, falling to the ground writhing, or miraculous healing, you are missing out.

I'll share what I've learned studying Scripture and writing out my thoughts for the past three years, publishing a short book, and spending hundreds of hours and $5000 in coaching to write this one blog post on spiritual gifts.

Spiritual gifts can help both you and your church thrive with a power that is literally out of this world.

But for most people and for most churches, spiritual gifts remain undervalued. At best, they are treated as an optional thread of theology or spiritual development. At worst, they are abused and mangled, turning people away from genuinely seeking their own gifts.

However, you and everyone else in your church are to “earnestly pursue love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy” (1 Corinthians 14:1).

As you’ll soon learn in this post, the five spiritual gifts explicitly referenced in Ephesians 4:7-16 — sometimes referred to as “the Five Fold” — play an essential role in the life of anyone who follows Christ.

The Five Fold are the key to a thriving church.

The Five Fold are also a way to unlock healthier relationships, increased impact, stronger leadership, and richer spiritual growth in your own life.

But before you can fully appreciate the potential and power of your own spiritual gifts, you first have recognize what you lose when living without them.

The Downsides of Inactive Gifts

Photographer: Fredric Andersson | Source: Unsplash

Before you learn how you personally benefit from activating your gifts, you should first be aware of what you lose from not doing so.

This exercise is hard because, for most people and for most churches, inactivity is already their current state. Because you are likely are already living without the active Five Fold, you probably don’t know what you’re actually missing.

However, by reversing the benefits and purposes of spiritual gifts found in Ephesians 4, you can paint a picture. After all, if spiritual gifts did not confer benefits or solve problems for the church, why would they be given in the first place? If providing spiritual gifts doesn't not change the state of the church or ward off any dangers or problems, they would be totally optional.

I'd argue that the active expression of your spiritual gifts is actually a necessity, not an option. Here's why:

Consider the moment when the gifts were given (emphasis added):

This is why it says: "When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people." (Ephesians 4:8)

Let’s pause for a second.

When I drop by two daughters off at school, right when I’m about to drive away, I check for only a few things: do they have a jacket, did they bring their lunch, and did they take their homework.

I don’t ask them whether they are bringing dolls, toys, stickers, or any number of optional things they have in the car.

When I leave my daughters behind for school, I make sure they have the essentials.

Is it possible that Jesus did the same thing when giving gifts — the gifts of Ephesians 4:8 being the same as the spiritual gifts of Ephesians 4:11?

If these are the things he gave upon his ascension, might not they be necessities, not nice-to-haves?

If you accept for a moment that the gifts are, in fact, a necessity, not an option, then we should see any benefits associated with them as benefits we’d miss without the gifts. One way to paint this picture of a life without spiritual gifts, then, is to reverse the benefits ascribed to these very gifts in Ephesians 4:12-17:

  • Under-equipped ministry leaders and volunteers
  • A weakened and splintered church body
  • A spiritually stunted congregation
  • The acceptance and spread of false teaching
  • The rise of conflict and apathy

These downsides are all the result of not engaging in a healthy way with spiritual gifts.

You could argue that, even if your church experiences these challenges, they don’t effect you. So you still don’t need your spiritual gifts to be active.

I would suggest that there actually are some downstream effects when your church is limping along, even unbeknownst to you.

Why? Because you are tied to the health the community:

And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. (1 Corinthians 12:26)

What could be some of these downstream impacts?

  • Lower energy to be impactful at work or at home
  • Great conflict and misunderstandings with others
  • Sense of aimlessness
  • Lack of clarity
  • Poor decisions
  • Unresolved blind spots

When you tap into your spiritual gifts and activate them in a healthy, nurturing environment, you are empowered in a different way.

Later I will describe what those changes are in your life, both your spiritual life and your every day, when you are fully alive in your gifts.

But first, let’s look at one area where digging into your gifts can make a difference: finding your blind spots.

Finding Your Blind Spots

Like all magnificent things, it’s very simple
Photographer: Kirill Balobanov | Source: Unsplash

Blind spots may sound innocuous. After all, we all have them.

But that's also why they are so dangerous if left alone.

For example, you have a blind spot every time you drive a car and want to change to the driver side lane. The blind spot escapes your view from both your side or rear view mirror.

When changing lanes, a safe driver will turn their head and check their blind spot. But if you don’t check, you risk hitting a car or getting blasted with a horn.

These “secret faults” escape our own detection:

Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. (Psalms 19:12)

Because everyone still has a sin nature, even something spiritually sourced can manifest corrupted.

Without knowing your gifts and actively applying them in healthy ways, your gifts will likely be expressed as a sin, typically ones you aren't aware of.

The very source of your power can also be a blind spot.

This is why blind spot awareness matters.

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)

Spiritual gifts are, in fact, a way for us to find those blind spots and to work them out for the better.

What are some examples?

If you’re gifted as an Apostle, by always aspiring to enter new territory, your blind spot may be to fix on the innovation, in the newness, on the outcomes instead of Christ and his message of grace.

If you’re a Prophet devoted to telling the truth and calling upon man to change his ways, they may be too harsh and forget the hope of the Gospel.

If you are an Evangelist, you may lean into your ability to sell and socialize, but apply those to something other than the Gospel.

A Teacher can be too tied to knowledge and rely on his own information instead of the supremacy of Christ and his truth.

A Shepherd can move into the grey areas for the sake of a relationship.

So even if you aren’t actively and intentionally expressing your spiritual gifts, your blind spots already are.

Let’s see what a life looks like, however, when gifts are activated as intended.

The Five Fold Effect

Why are these gifts going to be so important to the life of a church and to your own life?

Most people miss this. They look at the following Scripture without thinking about how each gift interacts with the others:

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, (Ephesians 4:11)

Let’s look at how these five gifts interact with each other and represent important phases in life — whether that’s the life of a church or your own life.

Here is the cycle:

Imagine planting and growing a local church.

What are the steps involved?

First, someone needs to actually go and start the church.

That person needs to enter new territory to expand God's Kingdom. Then they need to take the initiative with almost no resources to get the church started.

Enter the Apostle.

Once people are being reached, those people need to hear God's truth.1

Without God's truth, just going out and gathering people doesn't do much, even if it's in God's name.2

His truth of judgment, our sin, and his power and purpose all need to be declared to bring people to repent their sin and turn back towards God.

Enter the Prophet , one gifted at living and speaking God's truth.

But if the declaration of God's truth and power were all that was spoken, many people would feel helpless, fearful, or burdened under that law3.

What they need is the Good News of salvation and freedom through grace4.

If a church simply stopped at delivering God's law, many people would feel a heavy burden.

Enter the Evangelist, who reveals the freedom from the Gospel's good news.

So now that new people have been reached, have been convicted of sin, and received the saving message of the Gospel -- now what?

Those people need to deepen their knowledge of Jesus. They need to continue to mature as Christians5. They need to understand God's Word and how it applies in all parts of their life.

Enter the Teacher, one loves God's word and helps people understand and apply.

So...as people learn more about God's word, they will hit challenges. Following is hard. Doubt creeps in. Bad things happen which can shake our faith.

People need someone who can comfort them so they can continue the cycle of growth and maturity6.

Enter the Shepherd, who loves on people and cares for their soul.

As the people learn more from the Teacher and feel love from the Shepherd, they continue to be exposed to the call to be missional from the Apostle, the convicting reminders of our sin from the Prophet, and the radical good news from the Evangelist.

In this healthy environment, guess what happens?

A few of them realize they are apostles, prophets, or evangelists -- and they end up striking out in new territory.

The Circle of Life continues!

Do you see how interconnected all five of the Five Fold are?

Do you see how each of the five plays a critical role in God's purpose?

Now that you have the whole picture, where do you see yourself playing?

As this cycle was described to you, where do you feel even just the slightest inclination to dive right in?

It's alright if you don't think you're good or not sure. That's not what is important.

Do you see how all parts of the Five Fold work together?

Next: discover the real meaning behind your gifts!

  1. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. (1 John 4:6) ↩︎
  2. No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. (Luke 13:3) ↩︎
  3. For concerning the righteousness that is by the law, Moses writes: “The man who does these things will live by them.”But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down) or, ‘Who will descend into the Abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).”But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9that if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with your heart you believe and are justified, and with your mouth you confess and are saved (Romans 10:5-10)
  4. That Good News, the message you heard from me, is God’s way to save you. But you must continue believing it. If you don’t, you believed for nothing. (1 Corinthians 15:2) ↩︎
  5. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! (Hebrews 5:12) ↩︎
  6. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11) ↩︎

The Real Meaning Behind Your Gifts

Dreaming of summer
Photographer: Joanna Nix | Source: Unsplash

When someone has a special talent, we often refer to that person as being “gifted.”

This idiom shapes the way we interpret spiritual gifts — as your innate talent that sets you apart.

In some ways, there’s some truth to it: if each of us has a purpose, a God-given design1, we should then have some special ability to fulfill that purpose. Otherwise, anyone else could achieve the same goal. If that were true, it would mean that we, in fact, would not have been specially made for that particular assignment2.

However, after we looking at two simple Greek words and their subtle difference, you will dismantle this way of thinking about spiritual gifts. In fact, once you understand this difference, you may not think about spiritual gifts as a special talent at all.

Yet, rather than diminishing the power of the Five Fold Effect in your life, this revelation may actually unlock something that can deeply change you.

The two words we will look at together are often translated as “gift.” But understanding their meaning and, ultimately, which one is referenced as “spiritual gifts” in Ephesians — will unlock how spiritual gifts truly benefit you, which I will share in the next section.

The first word is χάρις — charis.

The second is δῶρον — doron.

Here is how charis is used:

Logos Bible Software

Based on this chart, it primarily means “grace” — the unmerited favor from Jesus.

Doron, which is also translated as “gift,” is more typically used in the sense of an offering or a sacrifice, such as what one would make at the altar.

Logos Bible Software

To see a comparison, here's how the two are used together in Ephesians 2:8:

For by grace (charis) you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift (doron) of God; (Greek reference added)

Ephesians 4:7, which is the introduction to the Five Fold, reads as follows (emphasis added):

However, he has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ.

Ephesians 4 then references Christ’s ascension to heaven before returning to this critical passage (emphasis added):

Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.

So here’s the question: which Greek word for “gift” is used in 4:11 ?

Understanding the meaning of that “gift” will reveal the intention behind the five listed spiritual gifts — the Five Fold.

Here’s the fun part (or limitation of the Bible software I used): I couldn’t find which word was used in 4:11 explicitly. But if we read the ascension and reference to Psalms as a parenthetical detour (still relevant, inspired, but not the critical path to understanding intent), the passage reads as follows:

However, he has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ. (4:7) Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. (4:11) — Emphasis added

IF you believe this reading makes sense, then the reference to “gifts” when listing the Five Fold is grace.

Please don’t miss this!

If that’s true, then the Five Fold spiritual gifts are each a form of Christ’s grace given to you.

They are expressions of the grace which saves each one of us from our own sin. For it does not come from ourselves to be freed from judgement before God and to live a life with the Father forever.

Spiritual gifts, then, aren't primarily an innate power or supernatural talent you express. They are an outcome from receiving grace in the form of one or more of the Five Fold.

You may be wondering, “How is grace different for each of the Five Fold? Why do I need different forms of grace in the first place?”

When you understand this, the impact of spiritual gifts will sink deeper within you. Your gift will change your relationships, your motivations, your energy level, and your effectiveness at work and at home.

When you understand spiritual gifts as “spiritual grace,” you will have a new foundation upon which you can build what really matters in your life.

The best way to gain this understanding in a way that you can apply practically everyday: see Christ as the perfect form of each of the Five Fold graces.

In the next sections, you will learn how to do this, and why you benefit from doing so.

  1. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10 - ESV) ↩︎
  2. I, Paul, am on special assignment for Christ, carrying out God’s plan laid out in the Message of Life by Jesus. (2 Timothy 1 Message) ↩︎

Deepen Your Relationship with Christ

This man has worked as a cowherd at my grandparents' farm for over 40 years.
Photographer: Madhav Rajesh | Source: Unsplash

Most people make the mistake of starting with themselves when it comes to spiritual gifts.

But what if it’s not about their own gifts, at all?

What if the intent of the gifts is a relationship with Christ?

Just as your relationship with, say, a spouse would have different dimensions based on differing circumstances and needs, your relationship with Christ has different “flavors” which are The Five Fold. Christ is the perfect form of each of the Five Fold: Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Teacher, and Shepherd.

If you believe this to be true, what does it mean for your life?

In the earlier section, we saw how people with each of these five gifts played a critical role in the formation of churches. I referred to it as the Five Fold Effect for Churches — the Five Fold Church.

But this same dynamic occurs in your life. Instead of different people building a church, it is Jesus building your life.

The Five Fold Effect for your life, then, is how Jesus, as five different forms of spiritual grace, changes you through your relationship with him.

Consider each of these stages of your life and the type of grace represented by Christ:

  1. Receiving Christ into a new territory of your life: the Apostle
  2. Facing His hard truths: the Prophet
  3. Experiencing Him as grace: the Evangelist
  4. Learning God’s way: the Teacher
  5. Receiving Christ’s love and guidance: the Shepherd

The Five Fold Effect comes from relating to Jesus across all five of his spiritual graces. Yes, as an outcome, you discover which of your gifts is strongest now and which can develop and grow.

But what is far more important is how you benefit when you rinse-and-repeat a relationship with Christ across the Five Fold.

Let’s see how it works:

The Five Fold Effect in Your Life

Jesus as an Apostle reaches into the different areas of your life, just as a missionary is sent to different parts of the world — so that you grow more and more in complete likeness to Christ.

He may knock upon your door into an area he has been left out:1 your finances, your thought life, your character at work, your conflict with your parents or children. As the ultimate Apostle, he will go where you don't dare to tread.

Jesus as a Prophet, through the Word, brings the truth and calls for you to repent in areas in your. He reveals areas you need to turn from sin, to change, to let go, to forgive, or to love in accordance to His will.

Jesus as Evangelist, however, is the ultimate hope to your sinfulness, depravity and desperation he reveals by his holiness. He proclaims a good news that sovereign grace, through faith, leads to a life everlasting in him.2

Jesus as the a Teacher then shows you his ways, guides you through his Word to follow Him. You learn the cost of discipleship and the expectations for being in community.

Jesus as your Shepherd guides you through the hard parts of life the wandering, the missteps, and the disappointments to bring you back into his fold.

If you go through this cycle — and it may involve some repetition at times — that area that he entered as an Apostle will mature and change.

And the cycle begins again!

Just as the successful planting and growth of one church leads to replaying the same cycle to create a new church, so it is with your own growth in Christ.

Maybe the first new area where Jesus the Apostle enters is your finances.

Then the next time it is your relationships.

Maybe the next new “territory” is your resentment towards your parents.

Do you see how Christ, as the perfect representation of each of the Five Fold, results in two critical things?

The first is knowing Christ in those five different ways.

You might be struggling to relate with him in one or more of those forms. Christ is the ultimate incarnation of each one of those gifts! So is we do want to know him fully, we must engage with Him in each one of those capacities.

The second is letting a Christ rule in each of the five gifts is the way to growth and maturity. Do you see an almost natural pattern in the example above?

The Five Fold cycle of life applies as much to you as it does to the church.

But there are some critical, perhaps surprising, enemies to you fully experiencing the benefits of your gifts.

  1. “I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference. “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” (Revelation‬ ‭3:19-20‬ ‭NLT‬‬) ↩︎
  2. Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2) ↩︎

How You and Your Church Benefit

Couple with sparklers
Photographer: Priscilla Du Preez | Source: Unsplash
“God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible.”1

I shared earlier that there are some subtle detractors who degrade your spiritual gifts. And as a result, you live with less clarity, purpose, power, emotional connection, and impact.

You need to be aware of these harmful limiters in order to avoid them or negate their influence.

But before I talk about the negatives, let’s make sure we talk about the positives: how do you benefit from truly activating your own spiritual gifts?

The answer lies in Ephesians 4:7-16 which describes the benefits to the church:

  • Equip God’s people2
  • Strengthen the body of Christ3
  • Unify the body4
  • Mature spiritually5
  • Resist false teaching6
  • Cooperate with each other7
  • Love one another8

While the passage reveal how spiritual gifts contribute to a healthy and thriving church body, they also points to ways that your life improves.

Some second-order benefits derived from being part of a body alive with their gifts include:

  • Increase impact at work instead of being average and underperforming
  • Improve how you attract and bond with others instead of being in conflict
  • Increase productivity and reduce stress and overwork
  • Experience more joy and satisfaction instead of hopelessness

How does activating your gifts and being amongst other who have also activated their gifts help you to unlock such changes in your life?

It does so by helping you grow in four primary ways:

The Five Fold Effect in Your Life
  • How you bring forth the Kingdom of God
  • How you deepen relationships with others
  • How you pursue work and purpose
  • How you build your identity in Christ

Each of these can come through knowledge and growth of your spiritual gifts.

But right now, something is in the way.

Given that most people and most churches don't express the spiritual gifts in a healthy way, they are missing out on life.

I will share those deterrents and detractors next.

  1. That precious memory triggers another: your honest faith—and what a rich faith it is, handed down from your grandmother Lois to your mother Eunice, and now to you! And the special gift of ministry you received when I laid hands on you and prayed—keep that ablaze! God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible. (2 Timothy 1:5-7 - The Message) ↩︎
  2. “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry” (NKJV);
    “to equip God’s people to do his work” (NLT)
  3. “the church which is the body of Christ will be made strong” (NLV);
    “the building up of the body of Christ” (ASV)
  4. “we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God” (ESV);
    “we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God” (NIV)
    “the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies” (NKJV)
  5. “we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ” (NLT); “measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children” (NKJV);
    “As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow,” (NLT)
  6. “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.” (NIV) ↩︎
  7. “according to the effective working by which every part does its share” (NKJV);
    “He makes the whole body fit together perfectly.” (NLT)
  8. "building itself up in unselfish love.” (AMP);
    “so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” (NLT)
    “we will speak the truth in love” (NLT)

The Subtle Enemies of Your Gifts

If gifts are essential to a healthy church, why aren’t they more widely taught?

Photographer: Artem Beliaikin | Source: Unsplash

Why aren’t spiritual gifts encouraged and enabled throughout a church beyond the occasional assessment, one-time class, or occasional sermon?

I learned the hard way why this is the case.

Before I describe the deterrents to your gifts, I want to preface the following: the church leaders who dampen the spiritual gifts of their flock don’t do so while twirling their mustaches and cackling about their plan.

It’s much more subtle than a conscious scheme.

This is why being both aware of the phenomenon and also having options to increase adoption without depending on the church leaders matters.

Here’s what I learned:

We were once at a church which, over a ten-year period, declined year-over-year declines. People left because they had been hurt or felt stymied in their growth. Leaders from other churches warned about this particular church based on its teaching.

Finally, after the attendance dropped from 200 to 20, it closed.

So what does this experience have to do with spiritual gifts?

Will a church actively engaged with their gifts prevent bad things from happening?

There’s no guarantee.

But that church’s dysfunction and demise, with 20/20 hindsight, was foreshadowed by Ephesians 4. Specifically, because the spiritual gifts weren’t active, balanced, and enabled in a healthy way, it did not experience the growth, unity, and ministry described in that passage.

Your situation is probably not this bad. But if you want to understand why spiritual gifts aren’t having the impact in your life as much as they could, then the valuable lessons from this painful situation could be instructive.

So what are the common enemies to your spiritual gifts?


“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.” (NIV)

Poor teaching results in the ignorance of gifts or, worse, the abuse of gifts.

In the case of the church described above, there was one “workshop” for about ten people about spiritual gifts. But teaching the gifts successfully doesn’t come from giving a handful of people an assessment.

One form of poor teaching, then, is just the absence of teaching.

Another misstep is teaching which actually leads people away from their gifts.

Poor teaching can also result in the misapplication of gifts. For example, this church allowed the emergence of a man who proclaimed himself to be a prophet, but primarily used that mantle to express his feelings and thoughts about people — sometimes without good intention.

Poor teachers who are aware of their deficits do not want to activate church-wide spiritual gifts because, according to Ephesians, the Five Fold mitigate such “deceitful scheming.”

When a church does unleash its gifts, the teaching becomes stronger, and doesn’t tolerate bad teaching.

As a result, one potential reason churches resist it is because effective Five Fold activation can potentially call out poor teaching.

But the resistance goes even deeper.


according to the effective working by which every part does its share (NKJV)

That church had a very divisive vetting period when it selected this particular pastor. Upon his selection, 30% of the congregation left.

I realize now that part of the problem came from the absence of a common framework for selecting a strong and healthy pastor.

In stark contrast, when David Platt left his church, the elders conducted a search. The primary framework for the selection of their new leader: the Five Fold!

Platt’s successor was introduced by walking through how he had been displayed each of the Five Fold. I had watched this amazing video while in the midst of the challenges at this other church, and my eyes opened.

I don’t believe every leader needs to be strong in all five spiritual gifts. That Brook Hills found someone who was blessed them, to be sure. But there are potential downsides: a leader who incorrectly believes they have all five, and as a result, are entirely self-sufficient, can lead a church down a dangerous path.

Sometimes, a deficiency in one or more of the gifts is actually better for the church when mixed with humility. A leader who knows where they are strong and where they are weak, confesses those weaknesses and leans upon the body to shore up his deficits, can fulfill the promise of Ephesians 4.

What doesn’t work is what this pastor did: denied his weaknesses in Teaching, Evangelism, and Apostleship. Without sufficient humility, rather than lift-up those with differing gifts to compensate for his own gaps, he propped up those who protected his position and silenced those questioning his need for improvement.

When a poor leader is at the head of a church, enabling spiritual gifts throughout the church can be scary — because it will reveal his deficits and enable growth without dependence on him.

Deeply and broadly teaching spiritual gifts to the congregation is often against the interest of leaders:

  • The flock can be more aware of the leaders’ weakness
  • Certain members of the flock may exhibit greater talents in areas compared to the leader
  • The combination may undermine their authority

For a church and for you to experience the Five Fold Effect, you must have leaders who can be honest with their own gaps, relinquish that need to be the authority, and mesh with others by supporting their gifts in leadership.

If you have solid teaching (both in content and in adoption) and healthy leadership (humility, capability, and commitment), most of the other problems can be addressed.

These include:

  • Skepticism
  • Hyper-spiritualization
  • Extremism
  • Suppression


Often times, people talk about and surface their spiritual gifts in a limited scope: usually when the church is talking about it as part of a workshop.

But spiritual gifts, as we’ve seen, is part of an on-going and interdependent cycle.

Just as Christ’s grace does not appear on occasion or in hyper-spiritualized circumstances, but is present throughout our lives, so it is with spiritual gifts.

But when the application of spiritual gifts is seen in a narrow way, its strength is diminished. Its power dissipates.

These three common obstacles to the Five Fold Effect are prevalent, and can be hard to overcome.

But in the next section, I share with you the antidotes that can help you and your church overcome them and begin unleashing gifts today.

Becoming a Five Fold Church

The place to start with the Five Fold Effect is within the church.

There are four core dimensions to the Five Fold Church which, together, KNIT the body together:

  • Knowledge of God1
  • Nurturing Ministries2
  • Internal Unity3
  • Transformation in Christ4
The Five Fold KNIT Model of Spiritual Gifts in a Church

Knowledge of God shapes our thoughts, plans and purposes.

Nurturing Ministries is enabling us to do God’s work individually and together.

Internal Unity is the way the body interacts with one another.

Transformation in Christ is becoming more like Christ is identity and character.

Each one of those broad dimensions deepen in richness and power as the entire church activates their gifts.

However, to get there, churches need to know where they are currently and where they want to go in terms of their spiritual gift maturity.

Here are five levels to help assess the current and future state:

Level 1: Limited Discussion

This is where most churches are: no intentional discussion, awareness, education, or application.

Level 2: Introductory Information

Some or all of the congregation are given facts, through a sermon or a class, which focuses in information: what are spiritual gifts including basic assessments

Level 3: Leadership Formation

The leaders understand and apply their gifts as a way to build their team and lead their flock.

Level 4: Church-Wide Activation

Both leadership and congregation have an understanding of their gifts. Church leadership recognizes how they mesh or not with the congregation and focus more on developing individual capabilities within the existing rhythms of the church.

This means fostering spiritual gifts in relationships, in work, in parenting — in areas often considered “outside” of the church.

But it also means really shaping how the body interact with each other in ministry and socially through their gifts.

Level 5: Five Fold Transformation

The church recognizes how they are shaped by their collective expression of spiritual gifts and design their mission, outreach and development around their Five Fold DNA. They change the old patterns and move into new changes.

Start Your Five Fold Journey Today

Because Ephesians 4 describes how spiritual gifts benefit the church, much of this post talks about how churches can activate the spiritual gifts church-wide.

But this doesn’t mean that you’re blocked.

Till now, many people were, in fact, limited in their gifts because of the subtle blockers found in most church — poor teaching, poor leadership, and shallow application.

But now you can start the journey to the Five Fold!

By providing solid Five Fold Teaching in the following areas, you can help yourself, your church, and your church leaders to grow in their spiritual gifts.

Start by taking a short spiritual gifts assessment. You can do so by clicking here:

Then plan your own Five Fold Journey by staring on with what interests you the most:

  • Your Five Fold Purpose
  • Dating with the Five Fold
  • The Five Fold Marriage
  • The Five Fold Leader
  • The Five Fold Parent
  • The Five Fold Team
  • The Five Fold Church

I can't wait to hear how it goes for you!

Click to take your spiritual gifts assessment today

  1. “we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God” (NIV) ↩︎
  2. “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry” (NKJV) ↩︎
  3. “so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” “the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies” (NKJV)
  4. “the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies” (NKJV) ↩︎