(John 15:16) Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain . . .
Traditionally, ordination has been defined as the process by which individuals are consecrated to perform religious duties within their particular church denomination. The process is a culmination of the minister’s training and experience after which he is classified as official clergy to function in a spiritual capacity. The ordination ceremony can range from an elaborate public church service all the way to a private meeting of church leaders.
What does the Bible say about ordination?
- The Word of God calls for the ordination of leaders to serve in a particular local church body. (Acts 14:23) So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
- The leadership of the church must be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in the ordination of men for the ministry: (Acts 13:2-3) As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.
- The person must be called by the Lord to the ministry and not by himself or others: (Heb 5:4) And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was.
- Ordination is as simple as the laying on of hands by the church leadership in a spirit of prayer and waiting on the Lord: (1 Tim 4:14) Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.
- Requirements for ordination include faithfulness of service and irreproachable character: (1 Tim 1:12) And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry. (1 Tim 3:2) A bishop then must be blameless . . .
- Women are never ordained as pastors in the Bible, only men: (1 Tim 3:1) This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work.
Important note: The ordination ceremony itself does not confer any special power; it simply gives public recognition to God’s choice of leadership. Some men have eschewed official ordination knowing they are ordained by God and that is all that matters. This includes notable pastors of the past such as Dr. H.A. Ironside, Dwight L. Moody, and Charles H. Spurgeon.