The five-fold ministry is a catch-phrase used in certain Charismatic circles to indicate a belief that something was missing in the leadership of the Church until recently. This concern was based on the following scripture that appears to many to refer to five distinct leadership roles:
"And He Himself gave some to be APOSTLES, some PROPHETS, some EVANGELISTS, and some PASTORS and TEACHERS, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ . . . " (Ephesians 4:11-13, NKJV).
Both the Roman Catholic Church and most Protestant groups have always had the three roles of evangelist, pastor, and teacher as part of their systems. But it was typical for them to consider that the roles of apostle and prophet ceased in the first century. The usual reasoning was that these roles were necessary for the establishment of the Church, but once it was established, they were no longer needed. There have been a number of movements in the past one hundred plus years that have insisted that this assumption is incorrect. They say to function fully as the Body of Christ, the Church at large needs active, contemporary prophets and apostles, restoring the five-fold ministry nature of leadership in the Church.
In recent decades, this notion has become very prominent in some Charismatic circles. There are a number of individuals who identify themselves as an apostle or a prophet and/or are recognized by others in their own circle as fulfilling that role - even though "outsiders" may find the claims spurious and, in some cases, laughable.