The Tragedy Of Weak Ordination Councils

Not too long ago I met with a group of pastors in Chattanooga at a local church for a quarterly meeting. In these quarterly meetings we spend time in prayer for each other as well as discuss one ministry topic. The topic in this meeting was the importance of ordination. I spent some time thinking about the ordination process in many Baptist churches and believe there are some serious concerns that need to be addressed.

I will  readily acknowledge that my opinions are primarily based on my own experiences. But I have also had conversations with other pastors, and I have a feeling this is a wide-spread issue in Baptist circles.

I am afraid that the ordination process in many places has become nothing more than a dumbed down, good ol’ boy, buddy system where men are ordained based on relationships they have rather than the qualifications and giftedness they possess. I recently observed two different ordination councils for men whom I believe have been genuinely called to and gifted for ministry. However, there was not one doctrinal question asked in either council. They each lasted about 30 minutes and served no real purpose. There was no examination.  This is tragic!

Do we have such a low view of the roles and responsibilities of a pastor that we settle to simply assume someone has the correct doctrine? Does the responsibility of preaching and teaching God’s Word not demand a complete and detailed examination? We have lowered ordination standards and then wonder why the tenures of pastors are so short, why there is no power, why there is no impact.  Could it be that our ordination process (or lack-there-of) has placed people in ministry that have no business being there in the first place?

A weak ordination process opens the door to unqualified and uncalled men serving in positions for which they are not gifted. I don’t have all the answers as to what an ordination process should entail,  but here are a few thoughts.

  • It should include the candidate giving his salvation testimony as well as how he is growing spiritually.
  • It should include a complete doctrinal examination. The candidate should have to defend his doctrinal position, not just state it.
  • It should include questioning on general Bible knowledge.
  • The candidate should be required to explain the gospel as well as how to present the gospel to someone who is an unbeliever.
  • It should be done only after the candidate has been discipled by someone in ministry.
  • It should be done only after an individual has completed some biblical training.
  • It should only be done after evidence has been given of a genuine call to ministry.
  • It should only be done after giftedness has been proven.

Regardless of the ordination process your church adopts, be committed to a process of ordination that is thorough, serious, and impartial. The office in which these men desire to serve demands it.