Thursday, May 21, 2009


Is it a sin for Christian churches to ordain specific people into the ministry of Jesus? Emerging author Tony Jones has been saying exactly that over at his blog lately.

His position is that it is a sin for Christian denominations to ordain specific people into the ministry of the Gospel, and on the basis of the doctrine of the Priesthood of the Believer, I can see his point.

However, I think the real sin here is that everyone who follows Jesus isn’t ordained into the ministry.

As W.C. Ketcherside remarks in his book, “”The Royal Priesthood”:

"Those who were Christians did not speak of "entering the ministry." They were already in it. Everyone entered the ministry at baptism. To be in Christ was to be in the ministry. No one went away to study for "the Ministry." Each one began where he was and announced the Messiah who had come. People did not send for a preacher. They just began preaching. All who had been inducted into the kingdom could tell what they did and why they did it. Every Christian was a minister, everyone was a priest. The congregation was a priesthood--a royal priesthood composed of all believers."

So, I would agree with Mr. Jones that the current model of ordination in our traditional churches is flawed, but for me the flaw is not that certain men are ordained, but that not ALL men (and women) are ordained into the ministry.

If we take Mr. Jones’ position we would be condemning those who hear God’s voice and respond to His calling on their lives to serve others and follow Jesus with their whole life. Instead of condemning those people, we should applaud their example and take this practice all the way to the finish line by opening wide the doors to enter the ministry of Jesus.

“Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." – John 20:21

Every baptized believer is in the ministry. Each of us has been called, and sent, and gifted, to love and serve and proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom to everyone we meet.

This doesn’t mean that we are all evangelists, or that we are all church-planters, or that we are all teachers,(see 1 Corinthians 12). However, it does mean that we are all part of the Body of Christ and that the Holy Spirit has gifted each of us with an important and necessary set of spiritual gifts. These gifts are meant to be used in proportion to our specific calling.

Honestly, I have been licensed and ordained since I was 22 years old, but these days I wish I didn't have the paper. In the beginning it gave me validation for stepping out under the authority of God, but now I can see that it has also created a false sense of clergy/laity - even in our own house church setting.

For example, when we had a baptism recently I was the one who performed it. It didn't even occur to me that by taking that position I was robbing others of the experience we should all feel free to enjoy. I will not do that again, nor will I lead the communion for everyone else.

So, are you a Priest in God's House? Yes, you are! You are in good company with people like Peter the Apostle, A.W. Tozer, and others who love God, have studied His Word on their own, and are passionate about putting it into practice right now.

Every follower of Jesus is a “Missionary”- in the sense that each of us “in the ministry”. The essential thing for each of us, then, is to discover our mission field (where we live, work, eat and sleep), and to step into our ministry (which is determined by our specific gifting by the Holy Spirit).

Now, for those of you who consider yourselves followers of Jesus, I encourage you to go out into your mission field and to step into your daily ministry, because you and I are all ordained into the ministry of Jesus. We are all filled with the Holy Spirit of the Living God. We are Temples of the Holy Spirit. We are all priests of God. We are all living sacrifices.

You have been ordained into the ministry of Jesus, my friends. Let us walk and live and love accordingly.


1 comment:

NoahM said...

As someone "ordained" by an institutional church, you have made a statement that you put man's rules (in following the institution's rules to become ordained) above God's (we are all priests with only Jesus as our head).