Ministry Commission and Appointment

It continues to be a great privilege to be a part of and serve our church body, Highland Christian Fellowship. We continue on our original journey of seeking God in his Word about how he intends his church to live and fulfill our mission to make disciples. 

A question we have recently been considering is what the church has traditionally called "ordination," and what we are calling Ministry Commission and Ministry Appointment. Here is an excerpt from a document we are working on that gives the biblical explanation of this important function in God's family.

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"The Bible teaches that all believers are ministers (Eph 4:12). There are times that believers are called to particular types of ministries, whether to a short term mission trip, a particular service that one engages in for his or her entire life, or a position in the local church. The Bible also teaches that the local church is an important part of affirming, equipping, and sending people into ministry.

"Based on biblical examples, there are basically two purposes for what is traditionally called “ordination.”

  • Ministry Appointment – this is an appointment to a particular position of ministry in the church. The two positions described in the NT are for elders and deacons (See Acts 6:1-6; 14:23; 1 Tim 5:22; Titus 1:5).
  • Ministry Commission – this is the commission of a person to a particular type of ministry. The local church is affirming a person’s gifting and calling to ministry and committing to support them in this ministry (See Acts 13:1-3; 1 Tim 1:6; 4:14).

"These actions taken by the local church fulfill the basic legal and cultural understanding of ordination. However, there are reasons why we may choose not to use this term in our church.

  • This term is not used in the NT.
  • This term is used in the OT with reference to succession of leadership and priesthood, which are not good parallels for leadership appointment and ministry commissioning in the church.
  • The cultural understanding of this term also carries ideas related to power and/or clergy/laity distinction that we are not conveying.

"Therefore, we can use the descriptions above, 'ministry appointment' and 'ministry commission.' In both cases, the biblical examples indicate that the local church corporately expresses these through prayer and the laying on of hands."