What is Ordination?

Ordination is the recognition of a minister’s call and qualifications by the laying on of hands of other ordained ministers. Paul instructed Titus to “Ordain elders in every city” (Titus 1:5). To “ordain” means to appoint, to arrange, or set in order. Paul told Timothy to “stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands” (2 Tim. 1:6). There are other scriptural examples that demonstrate ordination as the divine appointment of ministers being acknowledged by the church in separating or consecrating the minister to a specific work.

Consider Acts 13:2-4. “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost…” Clearly, it is the Holy Spirit that gifts, calls, qualifies, and sends ministers.

Preachers and workers of the Lord must be chosen by the Lord and anointed with divine power and authority. Ordination is the Biblical, doctrinal act of publically recognizing, by the laying on of hands, what the Holy Spirit has already chosen and qualified.

Bro. Ostis Wilson wrote on this subject in the December 1979 Faith and Victory paper.

It is certain that any minister can feel freer in the exercise of his ministry and work more effectually when he knows that he has the recognition, support, backing and approval of the other ministers among whom he works and of the saints. For one to successfully fulfill the office of an “Elder” or “Overseer” in a congregation in all its aspects, he should be ordained by the laying on of hands of other ordained ministers. He may preach just as well and feed the flock just as well without it, but when it comes to exercising authority and dealing with problems which may arise in the congregation, he will be much more effective and respected in his judgment if he has the recognition and backing of the ministry and the people he is dealing with know it.

Who Should Be Ordained?

A minister who is a candidate for ordination should meet the scriptural qualifications for a bishop and clearly have the anointing and call of God on his life and ministry. He should be an example of holiness, sound in doctrine, and Christlike in spirit. A new minister, regardless of age and knowledge, should not be ordained quickly and should be given time to prove his ministry in the Lord.

“The Word teaches that a minister should not be ordained until he has shown his worthiness. ‘Not a novice’ shows that care should be exercised before ordination. On the other hand, ministers should not delay ordination too long” (Carver, Cecil. Church of God Doctrines).

Ordination is a serious thing and is to be addressed with godly care. Paul gave instruction in 1 Timothy 5:22 to “Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins…” If an elder knowingly ordains an unworthy minister, he is a partaker of such unworthiness by sanctioning that ministry. A minister never need bow to pressure to ordain someone if there is not a clearness and affirmation from the Holy Spirit.

What is the Proper Protocol of an Ordination?

While two or three ordained elders may have the Biblical right to ordain someone, the very nature of ordination implies a confidence and backing of the ministry and of the church. Hence, ordination should not be done in secret but openly with the support of the general body of elders.

It is the responsibility of the pastor or other ministers who are working closely with the unordained to present the candidate for ordination to the body of elders. It is wise to investigate and ask questions of the minster who is to be ordained. Check with his spouse and with the people to whom he is ministering and be sure there is stability, confidence and no hidden problems. It is a blessing to God’s people and a testament of the Holy Spirit’s working to conduct the ordination service in the presence of the body of believers.

Ordination is of a spiritual nature and should never be politically motivated or to curry favor. Ordination has not always been handled with the care or with the seriousness which it deserves, but it is a Bible doctrine that is still important in the operation of God’s church today. It is to be respected. Ordained elders are to be esteemed for their works’ sake and for their authority in the Holy Spirit. —mws