Form for Ordination or Installation of Elders and Deacons

Beloved Christians:

It is our privilege today, in the name of the Lord, to ordain/install brother(s) _______ into the office of elder (or deacon; or: offices of elder and deacon).

It is well, first, to remind ourselves of what the Word of God teaches regarding this office (these offices).

Office of Elder

The office of elder is based on the kingship of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, when he ascended into heaven, left his church in the world and provided it with officers who should rule in his name. The apostle Paul, in Acts, insists upon the ordination of elders in every church, and, in his letter to Timothy, commands that those who rule well are worthy of double honour, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching (1 Timothy 5:17). In this and other passages Paul distinguishes between the elders who labour particularly in the ministry of the Word and the sacraments, and those who have the supervision of the church together with the ministers of the Word. Therefore the church, from the beginning, has had elders in addition to ministers and pastors.

The work of the elders is to rule in the name of the ascended King, and as servants of the great Shepherd, to care for his flock. It is therefore also the duty of the elders to maintain the purity of the Word and sacraments, to uphold the good order of the church, and carefully guard the sacredness of the offices and the faithful exercise of discipline. They should, moreover, with love and humility promote the faithful discharge of the office by their fellow-officers, having particular regard to the doctrine and conduct of the minister of the Word, that the church may be edified and so manifest itself as the pillar and ground of the truth.

To fill worthily so sacred an office, the elders should set an example of godliness in their personal life, in their home life, and in their relations with their fellow-men. As they walk in all godliness and faithfully discharge their office, when the chief Shepherd appears, they will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away (1Peter 5:4).

Office of Deacon

The office of deacon is based upon the interest and love of Christ in behalf of his own. This interest is so great that he deems what is done to one of the least of his brothers as done unto him, thus appointing the needy to represent himself in our expression of sympathy and benevolent service on earth. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me (Matthew 25:35-36).

According to Acts 6, the apostles themselves in the beginning served the needy; but afterwards, being overburdened with this service to the extent that some were neglected, certain men were chosen to whom they committed the special responsibility of exercising this ministry, leaving the apostles greater opportunity to continue steadfastly in prayer and in the ministry of the Word. Since that time the church has recognised this service as a distinct office.

The work of the deacons is faithfully and diligently to gather the offerings which God's people in gratitude make to their Lord; working to alleviate poverty; humbly and cheerfully distributing gifts to the needy; and relieving the distressed both with kindly deeds and words of consolation and cheer from Scripture.

To fill worthily so sacred an office, the deacons should set an example of godliness in their personal life, in their home life, and in their relations with their fellow-men. Thus conducting themselves as worthy representatives of Christ's loving care, and faithfully serving in his name those who are the beloved of God, they gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 3:13).

So that the church may hear that you are willing to take up your office, you are requested to answer the following questions:

First: Do you believe in your heart(s) that you are lawfully called of God's church, and consequently of God himself, to this holy office?

Second: Do you believe the Old and the New Testament to be the only Word of God, and the doctrinal standards of this church to be in harmony therewith?

Third: Do you, having heard the exposition of the meaning and requirements of this office (these offices), promise to discharge it (them) faithfully by the grace of God: as an elder (as elders) in the government of the church, together with the minister of the Word ([and] as a deacon [as deacons] in service to the poor)?

Fourth: Do you promise to walk in all godliness and submit to the government of the church in all things pertaining to your office?

N________, what is your answer?

Answer: I do (to be given by each individually).

Then the minister shall say:

The Almighty God and Father replenish you with his grace, that you (each) may faithfully and fruitfully discharge your office. Amen.

Charge to the Elder(s)

I charge you, as an elder (I charge you, elders), in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, be diligent in the government of the church which is committed to you jointly with the other elders and the minister of the Word. Be (a) faithful watchman/men over the house of God; taking heed that purity of doctrine and godliness of life be maintained.

Charge to the Deacon(s)

I charge you, as a deacon (I charge you, deacons), in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to be diligent in receiving the gifts of God's people, prudent and cheerful in their distribution, and sympathetic and self-denying in the ministry of Christian mercy.

Charge to the Congregation

I charge you, beloved Christians, receive this brother (these brothers) with the other officers of the church as the servants of God. Sustain them with your daily prayers. Render to the elders all honour, encouragement, and obedience in the Lord. Provide the deacons generously with the necessary gifts for the needy, remembering that in so much as you do it to the least of these his children, you do it to him. May God enable us to see in the ministry of the elders the supremacy of Christ, and in the ministry of the deacons the care and love of the Saviour.

Thus engaged in your respective callings, each one of you shall receive of the Lord the reward of righteousness.

Prayer

Lord God and heavenly Father, we thank you that you are pleased, to better edify your church, to ordain in it, besides the ministers of the Word, elders and deacons, by whom your church may be preserved in peace and prosperity, and the needy assisted. We thank you also that you have at this time given us in this place men who are of good reputation and, we trust, endowed with your Spirit. We pray that you will give them all the gifts they need for their ministry: the gifts of wisdom, courage, discretion, benevolence, sympathy and self-denial. We pray that the elders may be diligent in watching their doctrine and life, in keeping out the wolves from the sheepfold of your beloved Son, and in admonishing and reproving disorderly persons. We pray that the deacons may be careful in receiving the gifts of God’s people, liberal and prudent in distributing them to the poor, and in comforting them with your holy Word. Give grace both to elders and deacons, that they may persevere in faithful labour and never become weary by reason of any trouble, pain or persecution of the world. Grant especially your divine grace to this people, over whom you have placed them, that they may willingly submit themselves to the good exhortations of the elders, counting them worthy of honour for their work's sake. Give to the rich liberal hearts toward the needy, and to the needy grateful hearts toward those who help and serve them; so that every one may do his duty; so that your holy name may be magnified; and the kingdom of your Son Jesus Christ enlarged. In his name we conclude our prayer, saying:

This is the Forms of the Reformed Churches of New Zealand