Beloved in our Lord Jesus Christ:
The consistory has now twice published the name of our brother _____ , to learn if anyone had objections against his ordination (or: installation) as a missionary. 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.
Let us first hear what Holy Scripture teaches about the office of those ministers of the Word who are set apart for the preaching of the gospel to those who are outside.
God, our heavenly Father, in his good pleasure, gathers a church from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.1 He calls them out of the corrupt race of man unto life eternal.
For this purpose God sent his only Son into the world,2 who came as the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep,3 that they may have life and have it abundantly. He calls his sheep not only from Israel but also from all the nations, and leads them to his fold, that there may be one flock, one Shepherd.4
In order to gather his church, Christ has sent the Spirit as he promised, saying, when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me (Jn 15:26). The apostles were also witnesses, sent by Christ as he had been sent by the Father;5 they testified that the Father had sent his Son as the Saviour of the world.6
It is the calling of the church, through this testimony of the apostles, to move people to believe in Christ crucified.7 From the time of the apostles, the Holy Spirit has commanded the church to set men apart for the work to which he has called them.8
In order that this command may be fulfilled, the Lord Christ has now given to this congregation a minister of the Word.
According to the mandate of the Lord Jesus Christ and his apostles, a missionary shall first of all preach the Word of God to those who are without Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenant of promise. Thus he brings hope to those who have no hope and are without God in the world, that they, being far off, may come near through the blood of Christ.9
God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. He has entrusted the ministry of reconciliation to men whom he made ambassadors of Christ. Therefore the missionary shall beseech men in the name of Christ to be reconciled to God (2 Cor 5:19, 20).
He must hold firm to the reliable Word of God, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to refute those who contradict it.10
Second, he ought to baptize believers and their children into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,11 teaching them to observe all that the Lord has commanded his church.
And since the Lord Jesus has commanded his church to proclaim his death until he comes,12 he shall also prepare the table of the Lord in the midst of the believers. It shall be his duty to admonish the believers when they sin in doctrine and life and to deny them the use of the sacraments if they do not heed his admonitions, for the apostle Paul warned, You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons (1 Cor 10:21).
Third, as soon as it becomes feasible he shall, in good order, ordain overseers and deacons, according to the charge and example of the apostle Paul;13 so that they, as faithful men who are able to teach others also,14 may guide the flock of the Lord, which he obtained with the blood of his Son.15 He shall, however, not be hasty in the laying on of hands,16 according to the warning of Paul to Timothy.
In order that the apostles would be able to fulfil this charge, the Lord Christ, to whom has been given all authority in heaven and on earth, comforted and encouraged them, and in them his whole church, with the promise, And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Mt 28:20). This promise shall stand until the holy city, the new Jerusalem, has come down out of heaven from God.17 Then the promise will be fulfilled that the nations shall walk by its light and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it.18 Therefore the Lord Christ calls those blessed who wash their robes that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.19
And now, beloved brother _____ , you are about to enter upon your office, as it has been described. Therefore you are 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 receive the Old and the New Testament as the only Word of God and the complete doctrine of salvation and 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 do your work under the direction of and in close cooperation with the consistory of this church? Do you 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.
Beloved brother, go then in the power of the Holy Spirit to the work to which God, through his church, has called you as a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. Do not be ashamed, then, of testifying about our Lord20 and take your share of suffering for the gospel in the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory (1 Pet 5:4).
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 brothers and sisters, the Lord has granted you this servant. Receive him with all joy. Beseech the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ that he may guard him (together with his family) in all his (their) ways. Pray for him, that the Word of the Lord may speed on and triumph, as it did among you.21
Since we of ourselves are not capable of all this, we will call upon the Almighty God.
Merciful Father, you are pleased 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 man and that you have graciously provided this congregation with a faithful servant who is to labour in the ministry of your Word to those who are outside.
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 boldly proclaim your gospel, so that through his preaching many may come to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Grant him wisdom and perseverance in all difficulties and oppression which may confront him in his ministry. Guard him in all his ways. Grant him your grace that he may remain steadfast to the end and with all your faithful servants may enter into the joy of his Lord.
Grant this congregation (and the cooperating churches) your grace, that they may see what you are doing in this ministry and continually remember your servant in their prayers, in order that they may rejoice in the propagation of the gospel to the ends of the earth.
Hear us, O merciful Father, through your dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
*The laying on of hands shall not take place in the case of those who are already in the ministry.