The following form for the ordination of commissioned pastors aims to recognize the diversity of calls and positions included within the designation of commissioned pastor.
Sections A-F correspond to the following categories:
A. Preaching and Sacraments
D. Faith Formation
E. Pastoral Care
You will need to decide which categories apply to the call of the commissioned pastor in your congregation. This form serves as a template that you can adapt to fit your particular setting.
Congregation of Jesus Christ:
Today we rejoice in Christ’s special care and love for his church because we have the privilege of ordaining [name] as a commissioned pastor [or: for a special ministry of this church]. Because [name] has accepted the call of the congregation, we shall now proceed with the ordination.
From its beginning the entire New Testament church has been 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 vast and complex and that “there are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work” (1 Cor. 12:4-6). 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 commissioned pastor is one of these distinct ministries.
In varying ways every commissioned pastor is a servant both of Christ and of the church, a steward in the household of God, a teacher to explain the mystery of the gospel, a shepherd who cares for the flock, and an ambassador and a herald of our King, proclaiming the message of reconciliation. As [job title] at [name of congregation or institution], you have also received a specific call.
[Use one or more of the following paragraphs as they apply to the call of the commissioned pastor, or adapt these or write your own.]
Option A. Preaching and Sacraments As a commissioned pastor you have been called to preach. The preaching of the Word 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 commissioned pastor has the privilege of administering holy baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
Option B. Worship As a commissioned pastor you are being called to lead God’s people in worship. Begin all your ministry efforts with the conviction that the Lord is “great . . . and most worthy of praise” (Ps. 48:1); “how good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!” (Ps. 147:1). Always remember that Christ calls us to worship him “in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:24) and that God calls us to meet together (Heb. 10:25). All your leadership efforts must be charged with the conviction that “to him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” (Rev. 5:13). Care well for your own spirit and heart so that your leadership comes from a heart and mind fixed on the Lord. Stir our hearts, knowing that our worship is preparation for joining the heavenly chorus.
Option C. Youth As a commissioned pastor you are called to teach and form the faith of our youth. When Jesus said to Peter, “Feed my lambs” (John 21:15), he entrusted his followers with special care for the young. The commissioned pastor must instruct baptized members of the congregation and others in our community in the way of salvation, and encourage and assist those who teach alongside (2 Tim. 2:2). “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you an overseer. Be a shepherd of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood” (from Acts 20:28). Be a friend and Christlike example to our youth. Give clear and cheerful guidance. By word and example, bear up God’s people in their pain and weakness, and celebrate their joys with them. Hold in trust all sensitive matters confided to you. Be compassionate. Know the Scriptures, which are “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). Pray continually for the church. Remember at all times that if you would truly give spiritual leadership in the household of faith, you must be completely mastered by your Lord (1 Tim. 3:2-7).
Option D. Faith Formation As a commissioned pastor you are called to the specific task of forming the faith of our community through worship, education, and service opportunities. The apostle Paul has taught us in Ephesians 4:11-13 that Jesus “gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” In order that every person following Jesus Christ may attain these goals, you are called to assist this church as it promotes a vital program of education and faith formation.
Option E. Pastoral Care As a commissioned pastor you are called to visit the members of the congregation and broader community, calling on the sick and suffering, comforting those who mourn, encouraging the weak, admonishing those who stray, and counseling those in need of guidance, holding in trust those matters confided in counsel or confession. The commissioned pastor rejoices with those who rejoice and weeps with those who weep (Rom. 12:15).
Option F. Evangelism A commissioned pastor 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 our Master, the commissioned pastor 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 commissioned pastor must help and encourage the people of God as they care for the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, and those in prison (Matt. 25:31-46).
In all this work, the commissioned pastor 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 pastor must be devoted to the ministry of prayer, joining all Christians in confession, intercession, thanksgiving, and praise.
[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 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 that contradicts them?
Do you promise to be a faithful servant, 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:]
May God, who has called you to this great and glorious office, enlighten, strengthen, and govern you by the Word and Spirit so that you may serve faithfully and fruitfully in your ministry, to the glory of God’s name and the coming of the kingdom of the 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, we ask that you respond to the following questions with “We do, God helping us.”
1. Do you in the name of the Lord welcome [name] as your commissioned pastor?
2. [Ask one or more of the following questions as they apply to the call.]
Option A. Preaching and Sacraments Do you promise to take to heart the Word of God as [name] proclaims it?
Option B. Worship Do you promise to support [name] in the priestly and pastoral task of worship planning and leading by your own full, conscious, and active participation?
Option C. Youth Do you promise to join [name] in ministering to the youth by your own service and prayer? And do you, the youth of this church, promise to accept [name] as a pastor among you?
Option D. Faith Formation Do you promise to join [name] on the lifelong journey of becoming more like Christ by participating in and supporting various opportunities for faith formation?
Option E. Pastoral Care Do you promise to accept the ministry of Christ’s presence as embodied in [name] by sharing the mundane parts of life but especially your joys and sorrows with him/her?
Option F. Evangelism Do you promise to support and join [name] in the task of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ?
3. Do you promise to pray for [name], sharing in the work of this ministry, to encourage [name] in the exercise of these tasks, and to respond to this work with obedience, love, and respect?
Congregation, what is your answer?
We do, God helping us.
[The officiating minister (or whoever has been designated) shall then congratulate and encourage the pastor and the congregation in the following manner:]
Dear friend and fellow servant of Christ:
We rejoice with you on this day that, after much preparation, you have been ordained as a commissioned pastor. [Or: We all rejoice with you on this day as you begin your ministry 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 that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Keep your vows. Receive [name] as a gift of God. Listen to [name] with all the respect due this office. Encourage when needed, and pray for [name] daily.
May you as commissioned 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. 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 commissioned pastor. We rejoice that we as a congregation have received a new pastor to work among us. We pray that you will bless [name] as a servant of Christ and the church.
[Add one or more of the following prayers as appropriate:]
Strengthen [name] and all of us in the work of your church 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. Together may we rejoice in the calling you have given us as we serve in your name.
All this we ask with thankful hearts in the name of your dear Son, our Lord and Savior. Amen.
Option A. Preaching and Sacraments Help [name] to be an inspired ambassador of our King, bringing the message of salvation and reconciliation to all. Bless [name] as a preacher and a teacher, as a pastor and a counselor proving to be a faithful steward in the household of God. Enable us, as a congregation, to listen gladly and attentively, recognizing in [name’s] words the voice of our chief Shepherd.
Option B. Worship Fill [name] with your Holy Spirit so that all of his/her planning, writing, and rehearsing may be so blessed that through the power of the Holy Spirit the words and actions of worship will unite us with Christ and usher us into your holy presence to give you glory. Help [name] to be so in tune with your Spirit and the people gathered that our worship may express not only our greatest joys but also our deepest laments and that we will better hear your Word and respond to your call on our lives.
Option C. Youth May your Spirit fill [name] as he/she joins us in our ministry to youth, infusing him/her with creativity, energy, wisdom, and love. Provide ways for [name] to be rejuvenated emotionally and physically so that he/she can continue to do your will. May you grow in all of us a burden for our youth so that we may join in the work you are even now doing as you direct their path and draw them closer to you.
Option D. Faith Formation Holy God, help [name] to so reflect you that through his/her love, commitment, skills, and modeling, our faith may be nurtured, our relationships strengthened, and our faithful witness and service increase, so that we may live and grow in faith every day.
Option E. Pastoral Care Spirit of comfort, be ever present in [name] so that he/she may be a source of comfort to many. Grant him/her wisdom to know when to speak and when to be quiet, when to sit alongside and when to embrace, when to encourage and when to rebuke. Help us to let [name] into our lives so that through his/her presence we may sense your presence in our joy and suffering.
Option F. Evangelism Merciful and sovereign God, we praise and thank you for the good news of salvation and for your call to share it. Today we thank you especially for equipping and ordaining [name] for the work of evangelism as your ambassador and our co-laborer and leader. Fill your servant with your Spirit of truth. Give [name] love and patience for those who do not yet know you or have turned away from you, and may we learn from his/her example. Bless this ministry so that many will come to call you Lord and Savior.