Form for Ordination or Installation of Ministers of the Word

Congregation of Jesus Christ:

We have before made known to you the name of our brother N________ here present, who is now to be ordained to the ministry of the Word (or: installed in the ministry to which he has been called). No one has appeared to allege anything against his person or teaching. We shall therefore proceed, in the name of the Lord, to ordain him (install him).

The Holy Scriptures teach us that God, our heavenly Father, purposes to gather his church out of the corrupt race of men to life eternal, and to give to his church such teaching and care that she may grow in faith and love and service. God, by a particular grace, uses men for this service, appointing them to preach the gospel, and in other ways to build up the body of Christ. The apostle Paul solemnly charged Timothy to preach the word (2 Timothy 4:2), and our Lord Jesus charged his disciples to make disciples of all nations, baptising 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 (Matthew 28:19, 20). The apostle Paul declares that the Lord Jesus Christ has given some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up (Ephesians 4:11, 12).

Let us now hear what the Scriptures say concerning the office of the minister of the Word:

The minister of the Word is called by the command of God to preach the gospel of His kingdom. This preaching has the two-fold object of calling sinners to be reconciled with God through Jesus Christ, and nurturing believers in the faith and life of the kingdom of God. Ministers are called Christ's ambassadors, as though God were pleading by them, Be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20). This preaching must be addressed to all men. The preaching of the gospel must also be addressed to the gathered congregation to build up their Christian faith and life and to strengthen them against all error. Paul charged Timothy in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, to preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction (2 Timothy 4:1, 2); and he charged Titus that a minister 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 1:9).

The minister of the Word is called to administer the sacraments which the Lord has instituted as signs and seals of his grace. Christ gave this charge to his apostles, and through them to all ministers of the Word, when he commanded them to make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19); and when he said of the Lord's Supper: Do this in remembrance of me (1 Corinthians 11:24, 25).

The minister of the Word is called to the service of prayer. In speaking of their calling, the apostles say: We … will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word (Acts 6:4). So, too, all God's ministers are called to lead the people of God in requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving … for everyone—for kings and all those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1, 2).

The minister of the Word is called, together with the elders, to shepherd the people of God in the Christian life, giving guidance and counsel, exhorting them to contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3), and keeping the church of God in good order and discipline. They are pastors, appointed to shepherd the church of Christ which he purchased with his own blood, in keeping with the Lord's command: Feed my sheep! Feed my lambs! They, together with the elders, watch over the house of God for the right and fruitful ordering of the faith, life and worship of the people of God. When they exercise the keys of the kingdom, what they bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and what they loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Matthew 18:18).

Today we will ordain (install) a minister of the Word in this congregation. We rejoice that in his faithful love the Lord Jesus has provided a minister to serve as pastor and teacher to this people, and also as their leader in the missionary calling of this church. We receive this servant of our Lord from the hand and heart of the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls. We are grateful that our Saviour has committed preaching, teaching, and pastoral care to the office of the ministry, and that he will continue to use sinful men for such high and holy purposes until the day of his return.

No one is equal to this holy ministry in his own strength. We set our hope on Jesus Christ, our Lord, who has said: Surely, I will be with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20).

Now, in order that we may know that you, N________, are willing to accept this office, you are requested to stand, and in the presence of God and his church give your answer to the following questions:

First: Do you believe that in the call of this congregation you are called by God himself to this holy ministry?

Second: Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice; and do you reject every doctrine in conflict with them?

Third: Do you promise to discharge the duties of your office faithfully, to conduct yourself worthily of this calling, and to submit yourself to the government and discipline of the church?

Answer:

I do so believe and promise, God helping me.

The officiating minister shall then say (in the case of ordination with the ceremony of the laying on of hands, other ministers and elders present participating):

God, our heavenly Father, who has called you to this holy office, enlighten you with his Spirit, strengthen you with his hand, and so govern you in your ministry that you may be engaged in it faithfully and fruitfully, to the glory of his name and the coming of the kingdom of his Son Jesus Christ. Amen.

The officiating minister shall address the congregation:

Dear people of God and members of this church, since this solemn act involves obligations also on your part, I ask you before God:

Do you in the name of the Lord welcome this brother as your pastor?

Do you promise to receive the Word of God proclaimed by him and to encourage him as he carries out his duties?

Will you pray that he may, in the power of the Spirit, equip you in the work of advancing God's kingdom for the honour of Christ our Lord, the building up of his church, and the salvation of men?

To these questions, what is your answer?

Answer:

We do, God helping us.

The officiating minister (and/or others designated) shall then exhort the ordained minister and the congregation in the following manner:

Beloved brother and fellow-servant in Christ, take heed to yourself and to all the flock in which the Holy Spirit has made you a guardian. Feed the church of the Lord which he obtained with his own blood. Love Christ and feed his sheep; serve as an overseer – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you. Set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Be patient in all trials. Be a good soldier of Jesus Christ, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. And when the Chief Shepherd appears you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

And you, beloved Christians, receive your minister in the Lord with all joy and hold him in honour. Remember that through him God himself speaks to you. Receive the Word which he, according to the Scripture, shall preach to you, not as the word of men, but, as it actually is, the Word of God. Let the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace and bring the Good News be beautiful and pleasant to you. Submit to those God has placed over you, for they care for you as men who must give account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. If you do these things, the God of peace shall enter your homes. You who receive this man in the name of a prophet, shall receive a prophet's reward, and through faith in Jesus Christ, the inheritance of eternal life.

No man is of himself sufficient for these things. Let us call upon the name of God:

Merciful Father, we thank you that it pleases you by the ministry of men to gather your church out of the lost human race to life eternal. We acknowledge the gift of this your servant, sent to this people as a messenger of your peace.

Send now your Holy Spirit upon him. Enlighten his mind to know the truth of your Word. Give him the words to proclaim the mystery of the gospel with boldness. Give him wisdom to care for and guide the people in his charge. Through his ministry preserve your church in peace, and may she increase in number and in virtue. Give your servant courage to fulfil his calling against every difficulty; and power through your Spirit to be steadfast to the end.

Grant that this people may receive him as having been sent by you. May they receive his teaching and exhortation with all reverence and, believing in Christ through his Word, become partakers of eternal life.

Grant this, heavenly Father, for the sake of your dear Son, in whose name we pray:

This is the Forms of the Reformed Churches of New Zealand