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I was wondering if you could guide me to a paper or other resources concerning "Ordination of Pastors."

Thanks for the question. I am a Dallas Seminary graduate (1971) and have served as a teacher and elder in Community Bible Chapel in the Dallas area for 25 years. It has been my conviction that ordination was not necessary, and perhaps detrimental, not to my ministry, but to the ministry of others. Consequently, I have never been ordained. This past three weeks Don Curtis, a computer programmer with IBM has spoken on Jeremiah and Lamentations (these studies will be on the BSF Website soon). He has done a masterful job. He and several other men have developed as gifted teachers over the years, beginning at our church, and then blossoming as they have moved about the country. My fear is that ordination may set the one ordained apart from the rest of the body, or (worse yet) above them. This has the effect of making you (the one ordained) the expert, and others the outsiders. Jesus made it quite clear that there should be no “pecking order” among His disciples, and certainly no one should take a title that sets them apart from or above others in a way that encroaches on the preeminence of our Lord (Matthew 23:1-12). In our church I serve as a full-time teacher, but not as “the pastor.” The shepherding ministry is shared by the elders, and all the members of the church body should also participate to the work of shepherding to some degree (e. g. Ephesians 4:12).

It is clear to me from 1 Timothy chapter 5 that some elders have a larger role to play than others, and that not all have precisely the same priorities or function (5:17). Nevertheless, all elders should be “apt to teach” (3:2), and should share in the shepherding ministry.

I guess I am saying that I would beware of any labels or roles which discourage or diminish the contribution of other elders, or of other gifted teachers.

I was a part of an ordination service years ago, and one of the questions I asked the 2 candidates was, “Defend ordination from the Bible.” The response of both men was less than impressive. I think you should be able to “show cause” why ordination is biblical and profitable for your ministry. I am not suggesting that you should come to the same conviction that I have, but only that you should be “fully persuaded in your own mind” (Romans 14:5, 22-23). I have thus tipped my hand to reveal that I am willing to see this as a matter of personal conviction.

The closest one can come to ordination in the New Testament is the “laying on of hands” of the church leaders, such as we see in Acts 13. This identifies the ministry of certain men with the church, especially when these men are sent out on behalf of the church. Note, however, that Acts 13:1 informs us that the church in Antioch had a number of gifted prophets and teachers, from whom “Barnabas and Saul” were selected. Note, too, that this was not to set these men apart from others in the church, but to identify them with the church as they were sent out as missionaries (to use our vocabulary).

I think the bottom line for me is that it is ordination is more a pragmatic matter than a biblical mandate. I don’t condemn those who are ordained, but I don’t see it as a biblical necessity for my ministry. I think it is good for any church to scrutinize those who teach and lead the flock, but why limit this to one person, unless that one person is doing all of the ministry, which would be a problem?

I noticed an article on the Website by Hampton Keathley IV, which deals with ministry, particularly team ministry. Hampton is now a part of our church. I did not read the article through but I think he and I are on the same page.

You may also wish to look at this article, which I wrote some time ago.

Note also this article by Dan Wallace, who attended our church some years ago.

Related Topics: Administrative and Organization, Issues in Church Leadership/Ministry