What’s this “Ordination” thing about?

On Sunday, December 13, the people of Journey of Faith and I will take our next step together as I am ordained and installed as Journey’s next pastor. The past two years that have been leading up to this day have been an incredible journey of discovery, growth, and hard work. And now, as the countdown to ordination grows closer to zero, a question that I hear more and more often is, “What exactly is ordination anyway?” A classmate of mine (who is being ordained the same day as I am) had people referring to it as his “coronation” day – a term that brought to mind images and songs from a certain icy movie that he’d rather they let go…

So what is this service on Sunday afternoon all about? There are actually two things that will happen on Sunday – ordination and installation – and they’re both unique and important things that the church does.

Step 1: Ordain

On Sunday afternoon, we’ll begin our worship much like we would any service – we’ll sing some songs, receive forgiveness, and hear from God’s Word. Then things change as we begin the Rite of Ordination, which makes a man a pastor.

I’ll be completely honest – if you asked me even five years ago if I thought I’d ever be a pastor, I probably would have laughed at you and said you were out of your mind. But now, looking back over my life, I can see how God has been chipping away at me to prepare me for this calling.

In the last few weeks as I’ve been mentally preparing for this day, I’ve been reminiscing a lot and reflecting on all of the encouragement and direction I’ve received that have shaped me for this day. I had several teachers in my elementary school who told me, “You’d make a good pastor someday.” One in particular wrote a note to me in the daily journal we had to write in 8th grade (which I still have) to “never stop sharing Jesus and talking about what God has done in your life and giving Him all the glory.” Pastor Tom, my pastor when I was a freshman, was ready to drive me to seminary for a visit because he knew I would be a pastor one day. And all along I kept saying, I don’t think so.

But in the last five years, things changed. I began to sense that God was calling me to something different. I had been in ministry for a long time serving in youth and music, but God was calling me to take my next step. In 2012, when we were faced with a crisis and without a pastor, I was encouraged by another pastor to look into the SMP – Specific Ministry Pastor – program because it might be the right next step for me and for Journey. And it was.

I sensed the call from God that it was time to listen to all of those voices who kept telling me to be a pastor.

Ordination is when the church – not just a local congregation, but the whole Christian church – pauses and says, “we believe this man has a call from God to be a pastor for the Church.” Ordination isn’t a sacrament and it doesn’t make the person somehow more special or better than anyone else. But it recognizes that this man has a unique calling from God to preach the Word and be a shepherd to God’s people.

Step 2: Install

Ordination makes a man a pastor in the church. Installation makes him a pastor in this church.

In ordination, everyone who is there – people from Journey, other pastors, friends and family – will all speak on behalf of the whole Christian church to say that this man is a pastor. In installation, the people of Journey of Faith will say, “not only is he a pastor, but he is our pastor.” Pastor and people will promise to love and care for one another, to be united in mission and ministry together, and to work together to spread the Good News of Jesus to their part of the world.

This is an exciting and humbling time for me as I prepare to take my ordination vows and to be installed as a Called and Ordained Pastor. I pray that God would enable me through His Holy Spirit to shepherd and lead, to preach and teach, to provide care and guidance in a way that honors Jesus Christ above all things and blesses His people.

To God Be the Glory!

Comment(1)

  1. Robert Appold says

    Congratulations Pastor Starner, Serve the Lord with Gladness at Journey!

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