Congregation of Jesus Christ:
Today we rejoice in Christ's special care and love for his church since we have the privilege of ordaining (name) [or: installing (name)] to the ministry of the Word in this church [or: for a special ministry of this church] . Because he has accepted the call of the congregation, we shall now proceed with his ordination [installation] .
From its beginning the entire New Testament church was called to proclaim the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ to the whole world: "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:19-20). It soon became apparent that the task committed to the church was extremely vast and complex. Therefore the church under the guidance of the apostles, instituted distinct ministries to ensure that the work would be done well (Acts 6:1-6). Those engaged in these ministries were to function with Christ's power and authority, a power and authority rooted in obedience to his Word and expressed in loving service.
These ministries are therefore to be distinguished from the more general ones given by Christ to all believers. The office of the minister of the Word is one of those distinct ministries.
The Scriptures portray the minister's duties in various ways. He is a servant both of Christ and of the church; he is a steward in the household of God; he is a teacher to explain the mystery of the gospel; he is a shepherd who cares for the flock; and he is an ambassador and a herald of his king, proclaiming the message of reconciliation.
The preaching of the Word is one of the minister's chief tasks. Such proclamation must faithfully reflect the Word of God and relate it to the needs of the listeners. Paul stressed this demand when he wrote, ". . . Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage . . ." (2 Tim. 4:2). And because the sacraments are closely related to the preaching of the Word, the minister has the privilege of administering holy baptism and the Lord's Supper. Since the minister has the responsibility to preach the Word and to administer the sacraments in public worship, it is his task to conduct the worship service in such a manner that God receives glory and the congregation is edified.
When Jesus said to Peter, "Feed my lambs," he entrusted the officebearers with special care for the young. The minister must instruct the baptized members of the congregation in the way of salvation, and he must also encourage and assist those who teach with him (2 Tim. 2:2).
As a pastor, the minister visits the members of the congregation. He calls on the sick and suffering, he comforts those who mourn, he admonishes those who stray, he counsels those in need of guidance, he holds in trust those matters confided to him in counsel or confession, and he encourages the weak. He rejoices with those who rejoice and weeps with those who weep (Rom. 12:15).
Yet the minister is called not only to serve those who already are members of the church of Christ, but also to engage in and to promote the work of evangelism. As a true disciple of his Master, he should show that the church exists also for the world and that the missionary task of the church forms an essential part of its calling.
As a servant of Christ, the minister must help and encourage the people of God as they care for the hungry, the thirsty, the strangers, the naked, the sick, and those in prison (Matt. 25:31- 46).
In all his work, the minister proclaims, explains, and applies Holy Scripture in order to gather in and build up the members of the church of Jesus Christ. For this work, the minister devotes himself to the ministry of prayer, joining all Christians in confession, intercession, thanksgiving, and praise.
Brother (name), in order that all God's people assembled here may witness that you, in the strength of the Lord, accept the responsibilities of this office, you are requested to stand and answer the following questions:
Do you believe that in the call of this congregation God himself calls you to this holy ministry?
Do you believe that the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and life?
Do you subscribe to the doctrinal standards of this church, rejecting all teaching which contradicts them?
Do you promise to be a faithful minister, to conduct yourself in a manner worthy of your calling, and to submit to the government and discipline of the church?
(name), what is your answer?
Answer: I do, God helping me.
[The officiating minister shall then say (with the laying on of hands in case of ordination)]:
God, our heavenly Father, who has called you to this great and glorious office, enlighten, strengthen, and govern you by his Word and Spirit that you may serve faithfully and fruitfully in your ministry, to the glory of his name and the coming of the kingdom of his Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
[The members of the congregation are now requested to stand to make their vows. The officiating minister addresses them]:
Dear congregation of Christ:
Do you in the name of the Lord welcome this brother as your minister and pastor?
Do you promise to take to heart the Word of God as he proclaims it? Do you promise to pray for him, to share with him in the work of his ministry, to encourage him in the exercise of his tasks, and to respond to his work with obedience, love, and respect?
Congregation, what is your answer?
Answer: We do, God helping us.
[The officiating minister (or whoever has been designated) shall then congratulate and encourage the minister and the congregation in the following manner]:
Dear brother and fellow servant of Christ:
We rejoice with you on this day that, after years of preparation, you have been ordained to the ministry of the Word. [Or: We all rejoice with you on this day as you begin your work in this congregation.]
May you experience much joy in fulfilling your calling. As you exercise the authority of the office entrusted to you, may you always remain a humble servant.
Look faithfully after the whole flock, the old and the young, the faithful and the unfaithful, the healthy and the sick, the strong and the weak. Rejoice with those who rejoice and suffer with those who suffer.
Use all your talents to the utmost of your ability, and do not neglect any of your gifts. And one day our chief Shepherd will give you the crown of glory, saying, "Well done, good and faithful servant."
And to you, dear fellow Christians, congratulations also. This is truly the day which the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Keep your vows. Receive your minister as a gift of God. Listen to him with all the respect due his office. Encourage him when he needs strength, and pray for him daily.
Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward (Matt. 10:41).
May you as pastor and congregation live as the bride longing for the coming of our heavenly Bridegroom, praying, "Come, Lord Jesus" (Rev. 22:20).
Let us now give thanks and ask the Lord to help us do what we have promised.
Thank you, Lord, on this day for your many blessings. Thank you for your church, "elect from every nation, yet one o'er all the earth." Thank you for giving your church the task of calling others to your saving grace in Jesus Christ and to the fellowship of the covenant community.
Today we thank you in particular for giving the church the special office of the minister of the Word. We rejoice that we as a congregation have received a new pastor to work among us. We pray that you will bless him as a servant of Christ and the church. Help him to be an inspired ambassador for his King, bringing the message of salvation and reconciliation to all. Bless him as a preacher and a teacher, as a pastor and a counselor. May he prove himself a faithful steward in the household of God.
Enable us, as a congregation, to listen gladly and attentively to him, recognizing in his words the voice of the good Shepherd. Strengthen us all in the work of the ministry so that we may be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Help us, congregation and pastor, to endure the heat of the day and the darkness of the night, sustained by your healing and guiding presence.
All this we ask with thankful hearts in the name of your dear Son, our Lord and Savior. Amen.