On Sunday, September 9 the Council of Elders of New City Church will ordain me. Many ask, “What is ordination?” Ordination is a public acknowledgement of three things: a man’s giftedness for ministry; a man’s calling to ministry; and a man’s qualification for ministry. Ordination is an act of the Council of Elders of a church. In ordaining a man, the church makes a claim on his life. He is set apart by God (and the church) for the ministry.
In 1 Timothy 4 Paul writes,
Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.
(1 Timothy 4:14-15 ESV)
There is some debate over what the gift is that was given to Timothy at his ordination. It may be that God gives a man who is ordained a special giftedness for ministry. Or it may be the role of pastor itself that is the gift that was given to him. Whatever it means one thing is quite sure: Timothy was set apart for a particular task. In the verses right before Paul writes,
Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.
(1 Timothy 4:11-13 ESV)
Though Timothy was young he was, by virtue of his office, an example to the believers. He was to devote himself to Scripture, to immerse himself in it for the benefit of the church through teaching.
While all elders are equal, Paul nevertheless recognizes a difference among them. Later in that same letter to Timothy Paul writes,
Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.
(1 Timothy 5:17 ESV)
At his ordination Timothy was set apart for the purpose of laboring at preaching and teaching. As the primary preacher and teacher of the church (though not only; he still had a council of elders laboring with him) Timothy was set apart and supported by the church so that he was free to pursue his calling.
Since ordination is a public acknowledgement of a man’s giftedness, calling, and qualification for pastoral ministry, there must be some sort of examination of that man’s life. Paul warned Timothy to not be too hasty in ordaining others (1 Timothy 5:22). The Council of Elders recently called an ordination council, consisting of the elders and other pastors in the community. I was required by them to write a statement of my faith and theology. When the council met I was asked to defend and explain various items in my statement. In addition my life was opened to them; they asked questions about my home and how I lead my wife and children. This, combined with over a year and a half serving as the lead pastor of New City Church, led to the ordination council’s recommendation that the Council of Elders formally ordain me to pastoral ministry.
I am humbled at the grace given to me by God. I am ever amazed that he has called me to such a great and wonderful role. It is a tremendous privilege to be able to serve God’s people. I gladly accept the church’s claim on my life.