Ordination is a big deal. A really big deal. It’s the church affirming God’s call upon a minister’s life.
As a young teenager, I felt God was calling me into a life time of Christian service. But it wasn’t until sixteen years, a high school diploma, two degrees from Nazarene institutions and several years of church work later, that Dr. Raymond Hurn finally placed his hands on my head and ordained me at the altar of Detroit First Church of the Nazarene. From that first moment of “maybe God is speaking to me” to the General Superintendant giving me the charge to minister in Jesus name– there were plenty of meetings, classes, prayer times, conversations, reflection and ice cream (I’m not saying ice cream helps discern God’s will– but it doesn’t hurt).
Ordination was the church saying, “You were not a silly teenager when you thought you heard God’s voice at the campfire after-service gathering on the Eastern Michigan District Campgrounds led by Roy Quanstrom for the handful of mostly seventh graders who happened to show up. You were not crazy. It wasn’t the effects of an extra spicy burrito on the night you first sensed God calling you. What you believe was a divine encounter– we believe was real and genuine. We believe God spoke to you. We believe God called you. We believe you have certain gifts and abilities that God can use.” At my ordination the church gave a reassuring and confident “Yes” to what God had already done in my life and what he might do in the future. It was a huge moment in my life. Ordination is a big deal.
In the Church of the Nazarene they don’t just ordain anyone who has a teary eyed testimony. There are hours of classes that must be taken. One must be involved in real ministry on a full time basis (at least 30 hours a week) for three years and even longer if the minister is part time. Those wishing to be ordained must also meet several times before the District Credentials Board (it might not be as scary as an IRS audit review, but it’s close. I know I’ve been a card carrying member of a District Credentials board for the last 22 years and sometimes by the end of the day we get grumpy). All this to say, ordination takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not always easy. It’s a really big deal.
The credential board doesn’t just look for correct theological answers, they also look for the content of the person’s character and a demonstration of a supernatural encounter and calling. Paul told Titus a few things to look for in an elder: The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer is entrusted with God’s work, he must be blameless–not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. (Titus 1:5-9)
I think those are still the qualities we look for in an Elder. Those ordained must display a life worthy of the calling that God has placed upon them. They must tell it, show, and live it. So when the minister can abide by all of the qualifications– he or she is recommended for ordination. Did I mention– ordination is a big deal? It is. A REALLY big deal.
Next week at our District Assembly (General Superintendant Jerry Porter willing) four people from Central Church will be ordained: David Cooper, Jon Gildner, Malorri Seamon and Tanner Stevens. All four have completed the process and have proven to be a faithful candidate for ordination. They’ve answered all the questions. Taken all the classes. Served in various places. They are prepared.
Ordination will be one of the most powerful life moments for each of them– and so I would encourage you to make plans to attend the service at College Church in Olathe on Thursday, August 8 at 7pm. We want to help celebrate God’s working in these who we know and love and who have dedicated their lives to serve the Lord. We want to share in their joy. And we will want to affirm that we will keep them in our prayers as they continue to minister in Jesus name! Ordination is a really big deal– we will want to be there for our friends!