Saturday, July 17, 2004

More Thoughts on Ordination

The more I think about ordination, the more I scratch my head and wonder. Brad Sargent of the futuristguy blog commented on ordination:
i agree - everyone ought to be ordained as an affirmation of their calling, gifts, and spiritual maturity level to handle what they're doing.  those kinds of public rituals are more common in non-Western countries, but if we want to be ancient-future, we basically leave out such rites of passage and communal recognitions.
On the one hand, I think of ordination as divisive.  In the minds of many it exalts the ordained.  Isn't setting apart individuals in the body like exalting the the ear of a mule while the rest of its body does the work. Doesn't ordination impair or prohibit a truly organic church?
On the other hand, I think human nature craves some order and pageantry in its religious expression.  And I think in a tradition like the baptist tradition with minimal liturgical expressions, ordination feeds that need.
Maybe part of the problem I have with ordination is that the import of ordination is minimal.  Since we are all priests and have equal access to God, I have a problem with elevating one person over another.  The Bible says in Acts that the early church had everything in common.  Does that mean everything except status in the church?  Yes, we all have different giftings and roles, but none is more important than another.  We serve to serve God!  So, I think I have an idea of how I'd like to see ordination. 
I'd like to see everyone serving in a specific ministry ordained for a period of time (equal to the duration of the service).  Let's set them apart while they are serving so that the congregation knows who they are and they have a concret reminder of a specific responsibility to the church.  Let's provide a means of accountability for what they are doing when they are doing it, but not for perpetuity.  Let each church ordain its ministers and servants so that the church agrees to support the ministers and be held accountable, and the ministers agree to serve as God called and be held accountable. 


Blogger Brad said...

ummm ... is this whole thing actually part of the ordinatio salutes-us? or am i having another big burst of doctrinal dyslexia? again...

but seriously, seems a both/and thing. as disciples, we have equal access in the priesthood of the believer, as it makes so clear in Hebrews 4:16 - but then, that's the same book that urges us to submit to our leaders as those who hold accountability for our souls (Heb. 13:17).

perhaps seeing service in almost mathematical terms helps: with a higher level of authority, there comes a high level of accountability. when those two factors are even, the resulting fraction of authority over accountability yields a one - - the place of unity where all service from any disciple is viewed the as the same value. but the bigger problem when leadership goes wrong is to maximize the authority but minimize the accountability. that throws the service fraction in the direction of inflating the multiple of service - - making self look bigger. or, another real problem is the opposite, when the leader has the accountability factor emphasized, but has never had the authorization given to carry it out - - so their service is ultimately made miniscule. it's really a shame when this all gets into issues of power and performance instead of passion for being and doing what God created each of us for.

i like the idea of having ordination be project-specific or timeframe-specific. that makes ordination serve as one way of communicating to the gathering as well as celebrating this or that person's involvement as a servant. cool!

11:52 PM  
Blogger Terry M. Goodwin said...

Ordination does not hinder an organic church. I am licensed - first step to being ordained and I have started an organic church. My denomination supports my efforts and I welcome the overseers. God uses them to keep my freedom of ministry in line with the scripture. My congregation welcomes my ordination and many are glad I have it. Organic seams weird to many of their friends and the limited structure that ordination provides at least repels these arrows.

5:19 PM  

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