The consistory has now twice published the name of our brother _____ , to learn if anyone had objections against his ordination to the ministry of the Word (or: installation as minister in this church). Since no one has brought forward anything lawful against his doctrine and life, we will now in the name of the Lord proceed to his ordination (or: installation).
Let us first hear what Holy Scripture teaches about the office of ministers of the Word.
The exalted Christ gathers his church through his Word and Spirit, and in his grace uses the ministry of man. The apostle Paul indicates this when he says, And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ (Eph 4:11, 12). As the Chief Shepherd, who unceasingly cares for his flock,1 he appoints shepherds to take heed to the flock in his name. They are to take care of the sheep of Christ by means of the proclamation of the Word, by the administration of the sacraments, and by prayers and pastoral supervision. In this way the flock is tended and led in the right paths.
In the early Christian church this task was fulfilled by the apostles.2 They, in turn, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, appointed elders in every church. According to 1 Timothy 5:17 there were elders who ruled the congregation. Some of them were also called to labour in preaching and teaching. The latter are now called ministers of the Word. They have received the ministry of reconciliation, of which Paul speaks, saying, All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God (2 Cor 5:18-20).
The task of the minister of the Word can be described as follows:
First, he must declare the whole counsel of God3 to his congregation, proclaiming the Word according to the command of the apostle Paul: I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching (2 Tim 4:1, 2). After the example of the apostle he is to perform this duty in public and from house to house.4 He shall expose all errors and heresies as unfruitful works of darkness, and exhort the membership to walk as children of the light. He shall teach the Word of God to the youth of the church and to others whom God calls, for the Holy Scriptures are able to instruct them for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.5 It is also his duty to visit the members of the congregation and to comfort the sick and sorrowing. Thus comforting and admonishing, he shall call the whole congregation to the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.
Second, he is called to administer the sacraments, because Christ has joined this administration to the preaching of the gospel. It is therefore the duty of the minister of the Word to administer holy baptism according to the command of Christ, Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Mt 28:19). He also is to administer the holy supper as instituted by Christ when he said, Do this in remembrance of me (1 Cor 11:24).
Third, it is his duty as pastor and teacher of the congregation to call upon the name of the Lord in public worship with supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings (1 Tim 2:1, 2).
Fourth, it is the duty of the minister of the Word, with the elders as stewards of the house of God, to see to it that in the congregation all things are done in peace and good order.6 Together they shall supervise the doctrine and life of the membership, as the apostle Peter said: shepherd the flock of God, . . . not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock (1 Pet 5:2, 3). In so doing they are to shut and open the kingdom of God by Christian discipline, according to the charge given them by Christ. From all this we see what glorious work the ministers of the Word may perform. When the Chief Shepherd is manifested they as faithful servants will obtain the unfading crown of glory.7
Beloved brother _____ , you are now about to enter upon your office. We ask you to answer the following questions before God and his holy church.
First, do you feel in your heart that God himself, through his congregation, has called you to this holy ministry?
Second, do you believe the Old and the New Testament to be the only Word of God and the complete doctrine of salvation? Do you reject all doctrines conflicting with it?
Third, do you promise faithfully to discharge the duties of your office and to adorn the doctrine of God with a godly life? Do you also promise to submit to the discipline of the church in case you should become delinquent in doctrine or life?
What is your answer?
Answer: I do.
God, our heavenly Father, who has called you to this holy office, enlighten you with his Spirit and so govern you in your ministry that you may fulfil it obediently and that it may bear fruit to the honour of his name and the expansion of the kingdom of his Son Jesus Christ. Amen.
Beloved brother in Christ, God our Father has obtained the church for himself with the blood of his own Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit has made you pastor and teacher of this congregation. Love Christ, feed his lambs and tend his sheep,8 not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly (1 Pet 5:2). Keep watch over yourself; set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity (1 Tim 4:12).
Preach the pure doctrine, so that by your preaching and teaching the congregation may be kept in obedience to the Word of God. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus (2 Tim 2:3). Do not neglect the gift you have (1 Tim 4:14), with which the Lord has endowed you for this ministry. Devote yourself to your duties with all your strength and with perseverance, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers (1 Tim 4:16).
Beloved brothers and sisters, the Lord has granted you this servant. Receive him with all joy. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news (Is 52:7). Take heed to receive the Word of God, which you shall hear from him, and accept his words, spoken according to the Holy Scriptures, not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God (1 Thess 2:13).
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you (Heb 13:17).
If you thus receive this servant from the Lord, the peace of God will come upon you, and you will inherit eternal life through Christ.9
Since we of ourselves are not capable of all this, we will call upon the almighty God.
Merciful Father, it pleases you to gather to yourself out of the whole human race a church chosen to life eternal. We thank you that you gather this church by the ministry of men and that you give this minister of the Word to this congregation. We pray that by your Spirit you will equip him for the ministry to which you have called him. Enlighten his mind that he may understand the Scriptures, and open his mouth that he may proclaim the mysteries of the gospel with boldness. Grant him wisdom and faithfulness to guide the flock in the right path and to keep them in Christian peace, that by his ministry and under his good leadership your church may be preserved and increased.
Encourage and comfort him by your Spirit, so that he may remain steadfast in troubles and temptations during his ministry, and, finally, with all your faithful servants, may enter into the joy of his Lord.
Grant that those entrusted to his pastoral care may acknowledge this servant as sent by you. Give that they may receive the instruction and admonition of Christ which this shepherd shall bring to them and that they may joyfully submit to his direction. Grant that through his ministry all may believe in Christ and thus inherit eternal life.
Hear us, O Father, through Jesus Christ your Son, who with you and the Holy Spirit, one only God, lives and reigns forever. Amen.
*The laying on of hands shall not take place in the case of those who are already in the ministry.