ORDAINED AS APPOINTED SERVANTS
The Christian Church has had a longstanding practice of recognizing certain individuals through a process called ordination. Historically, this practice has divided the Christian community between the "clergy," those ordained to perform certain religious rights and ceremonies, and the "laity," the general body of worshippers. Unfortunately, in many instances this practice has resulted in an elite class of "priests" who were the ones primarily responsible for the work of ministry.
Patria Ministries recognizes the "priesthood" of the believer, with every Christian being equal in their standing before God. Every follower of Christ has been given personal gifts and callings, which are to be used in service to benefit the other members of the Body of Christ. All God's people are called to minister (the word "minister" originally merely meant "to serve") and the way each person serves may change throughout his or her lifetime.
Paul and others practiced appointing elders and overseers in the various Christian communities they established. At the time the King James Version of the Bible was written, which was the original Scriptural basis of ordination, the word "ordain" was used as the translation of the Greek word kathistemi. To "ordain" someone merely meant "to appoint," "to set," or "to place" for service to others. Unfortunately, today the concept of ordaining a person has acquired a much broader spiritual significance than was intended or practiced in the first-century church.
For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you—
In another instance, the King James translators used "ordained" which was translated from the Greek word cheirotoneo. This word was generally used when an appointment had occurred as the result of a voting process. Again, what is important to note is that "ordaining" is simply an appointment to service.
So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
Jesus taught and modeled for his disciples that "The greatest among you will be your servant" (Matt. 23:11). He further explained that, unlike the Gentile who wields authority over people, the greatest leaders are to be the greatest servants.
But Jesus called them to Himself and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—
Leaders in the Body of Christ are to follow the model of servant-leadership, and not only are we to serve, but the type of service we are to perform is the laying down of our lives for one another, just as Jesus did.
... just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
We acknowledge that individuals were "appointed to serve" as elders and overseers in the first century church, but this does not negate the truth that all of the members of the Body of Christ are equal in their standing before God. There is no hierarchy when it comes to our standing before God. We need each other for the Body to work correctly.
1 Corinthians 12:12 and 13
For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.
Patria Ministries emphasizes that in our practice of ordination, we are not creating any spiritual hierarchy, or elite class of "clergy." We strongly resist the tendency of people to do this, and thus make a deliberate choice to establish an organizational culture that promotes service by all, and most especially those we ordain. For this reason we do not require titles such as Reverend, or Pastor, when referring to our ministers. We see these as merely functions within the body of Christ to advance the Kingdom of God.
This does not mean we do not view ordination seriously. We believe ordination is the recognition of a calling, an appointing, and a purpose given by God. We believe it is an impartation of a measure of God's spiritual authority to be used to serve others and advance the Kingdom of God. We believe this will become a spiritual enlivening from a God breathed, life-giving ministry, and as such is a form of spiritual reproduction for potentially new authority structures as God leads.
Patria Ministries acknowledges that all-true authority comes from God. We further acknowledge that true authority is granted through favor with God and then favor with man. Therefore, those God has chosen, we simply recognize.
Why We Ordain Certain Individuals
We believe there are times when ordination is beneficial, for both the individual ordained and the Body of Christ at large. Patria Ministries understands that sometimes ordination affords the individual an increased ability to serve others. Traditionally, this increased service as a "minister" includes the ability to officiate at weddings, and provides special rights of visitation to those who are sick or in prison.
There are also times when ordination may increase a person's ability to serve by allowing them to represent Patria Ministries in a geographical area, and to carry some administrational responsibilities on behalf of the organization.
Patria Ministries ordains individuals in two general categories. The first is those individuals who serve in a particular capacity or function as a leader in a Church Body. The second is those who serve in a more general way in a broader, trans-local manner. Although we are drawing the distinction at this time between the two categories of ordination, we also acknowledge that there are some who fall into both categories because some will serve in both capacities at the same time. In all instances we are only recognizing publicly a personal gift and calling that has already been in operation in service to God's people.
Qualifications for Ordination
Patria Ministries places the highest level of organizational trust and confidence in those it ordains. In essence, those ordained through this ministry represent Christ, as well as the organization of Patria Ministries .
Ordination by its very nature carries an organizational endorsement of the individual, and also a responsibility to live in a manner worthy of this trust. As such, every person seeking ordination must qualify in the areas of personal character, competency in ministry, commitment to Christ (as well as to the ministry of Patria Ministries), consistency in performance, and cohesion or connectedness to others and this ministry.
God makes it very clear that He is very concerned about our character. Character has been described as the summation of a person's life choices. We are all given gifts from God, but what we do with them and how we use them is the result of the type of character a person has developed. We all struggle with sin and our flesh (carnal) nature, but we, as ministers of the Gospel of Christ, must be ever increasing in godliness, and demonstrating the character of Christ through the fruit of the spirit (Gal. 5:22). God is not looking for perfect people, but people who are earnestly following Jesus, who is perfect.
Those ordained by Patria Ministries must demonstrate the godly character and lifestyle commensurate with the requirements for overseers and deacons according to 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:6-9. Too often, very gifted men and women of God have fallen from grace, not because of their gifts or callings, but because they failed in the area of character.
Those "appointed to serve" must be proficient in their scriptural knowledge of sound doctrine and its practice. Competency must be demonstrated in four areas.
1. All "ministers" must be competent in their knowledge and understanding of the fundamental truths of the Christian Faith expressed in Ephesians 4, specifically the "Seven Ones."
2. We recognize that Patria Ministries may hold some historically unique doctrinal positions. Those ordained with this ministry must be able to "contend for the faith" by being able to properly express and defend the doctrinal positions of our Statement of Beliefs.
3. Every person ordained by Patria Ministries is a representative of this organization and as such they must be proficient in their understanding of our vision, mission, and core values, as well as other organizational details.
4. Each person must demonstrate sufficient skill and knowledge of their particular area of gifting. Having a spiritual calling and operating competently in that calling are two different matters. Spiritual competency requires growth and maturity, as well as walking with wisdom.
All Patria Ministries ministers are ordained (appointed) to serve from our vision, mission, doctrine and practices, and core values and therefore must have demonstrated commitment to our organizational vision, mission, doctrine and practices, and core values.
God warns against promoting a novice too soon, otherwise the novice may become puffed up and fall into the temptation of ego and pride. Patria Ministries only ordains those individuals who have proven themselves to be stable and consistent in their walk with Christ and their support of this ministry. A candidate for ordination cannot be someone who runs hot and cold, or who is unstable because of double-mindedness.
All ministers must be connected to the broader church community and enjoy a good reputation within the local area they serve.
All Certificates of Ordination shall remain valid on the following conditions.
All certificate holders agree that they:
1. Will operate under the authority and jurisdiction of Patria Ministries.
2. Will at all times maintain a good reputation with those they serve, as well as the general church community of Patria Ministries.
3. Will demonstrate their continued support of the organization through their service and support.
4. Will relinquish and return any Certificate of Ordination if requested to do so by Patria Ministries.
The Ordination Process:
4. Ordination and Release
Step One: Recognition
Ordination is the public recognition of someone who is walking as a godly Christian, walking in his calling to the degree that the Church recognizes his public service, walking in accordance with the guidelines for overseers written in Timothy and Titus, and walking in such a calling that the Church feels there is a reason for the ordination.
The first step in the ordination process is to be walking in such a way that your calling and godliness are known and recognized by others.
Step Two. Nomination and Acceptance
Once a person is generally recognized in the public community for having a ministry and walking as a godly Christian, they may be nominated to Patria Ministries for ordination. I an individual may request ordination, but must obtain a sponsor from the Patria board of directors or leadership counsel in order to proceed. Generally, anyone nominated for ordination has both a personal witness and a witness by others that it is proper. This can occur in two ways.
2. Being recommended by others who know the person well
The Board of Directors will review and approve all nominations and in most cases this will require an interview process with the candidate. If a candidate is accepted, he or she can then enter the development phase of ministry.
Step Three: Development
Since all ordained ministers are a "total package" of godly body, godly soul, and godly spirituality, it is the role of the nominating pastor or minister to monitor and assist the candidate towards fulfillment of their ordination requirements. We recognize that few people are ready to be ordained simply because they are operating their ministry well and are well liked by the community of believers. There are many facets of ministry and the life of an ordained minister requires mentoring, training, and observation. This stage of development may be completed based upon the criteria listed below, or the known history of the individual (particularly where ordination by another acceptable group has been recognized).
Many Patria Pastors know they have a call to plant churches and therefore to mentor those who they see a pastoral gifting on. The purpose of a mentoring program is not to turn out "cookie cutter" ministers, or to try to get all ministers to be equally good at all aspects of ministry.
A good mentoring program recognizes the God-given ministry of the person and works to develop that. However, it also recognizes that there are certain aspects of ministry and personal behavior that all ministers need to attain. This is a time to concentrate on developing godly character and to work closely with others who can help strengthen any personal vulnerabilities or weaknesses. It should be noted that the majority of items listed in Timothy and Titus are character traits.
Training is the development of those areas of knowledge and expertise specifically related to
one's personal gifts and calling. For instance, if someone is called as a Pastor, this time will be spent learning principles and techniques specific to proper pastoral care. Ideally, training will occur on the local church level and with someone of the same calling.
The Bible is our rule for faith and practice and, as such, all ministers must have a solid grasp on doctrinal matters. It is important for the function and future of Patria Ministries that our ministers understand what we believe and why. Since spiritual ignorance and biblical illiteracy go hand-in-hand, in this phase of development the candidate is required to study and demonstrate a solid grasp of the doctrinal positions of Patria Ministries . Additionally, the study phase goes beyond the mere recitation of facts and information, and requires that the candidate demonstrate the practical application and wisdom and spiritual fruit required to walk as an ordained minister.
Step Four: Ordination and Release
Upon satisfactory completion of the above process, Patria Ministries Board recognizes a candidate for ordination. The candidate is ordained to public ministry in a recognition ceremony that celebrates the person's gift and calling as a gift to the Body of Christ, and thereafter the individual is released for service.
Base Criteria for Ordination
1. Satisfactory completion of the requirements of the recognition, nomination, development and accountability steps toward ordination.
2. Satisfactory demonstration of Biblical knowledge, Patria Ministries teachings, and other required texts in preparation for public ministry.
3. An identifiable ministry evidenced within Patria Ministries faith community.
4. Character and lifestyle commensurate with the requirements for overseers and deacons according to 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:6-9.
5. Full and open disclosure to the Ordination Board of any personal information relevant to establishing and maintaining authentic Christian character.
6. At least 25 years of age (or otherwise recognized as a mature leader by the elders of Patria Ministries).
7. An evident history of faithful service in ministry within Patria Ministries community of believers.