“Ordination” sounds like a mysterious word – a position reserved for only the very special and extremely well-educated. For those of us who grew up in denominational churches the thought of “normal” people entering into ministry was foreign because ministry was only for the “ordained”.
Because it’s different from what many of us are accustomed to, I’m going to explain how Equipped for Life chooses those on whom we confer “ordination.” We’ll talk first about the civil aspects of it.
Equipped for Life has met the government’s requirements to become a Licensing Body. With the help of our lawyer and amazing Administrator, we’ve sought and received the state’s permission to determine how someone enters the ministry. Because of that, when we issue a certificate to a student stating that they’ve met our requirements to minister, the government issues them a Ministerial License (after the person pays $4.50 at the DMV). This allows the person to conduct weddings and funerals, enter military chaplaincy, or minister in hospitals and prisons, as well as any church ministry. Equipped for Life complies with the government’s wishes because that’s the way it works in America.
The governmental aspect of our sending someone into the ministry is miniscule, however, compared to our desire to follow God’s leading in the commissioning of someone into the ministry. We seek God’s plans and purposes for each individual; we follow His leading, and respond by agreeing with what He’s doing in the lives of our students. We don’t say to a student, “You’ve finished the course work so you’re a minister,” but we say, “You’re ministering – you must be a minister!” We do it this way because we feel that it more accurately follows the pattern for entering ministry in the book of Acts.
Acts 13:2 shows us how it was done. God says to the church in Antioch, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them,” and they did. “They fasted, prayed, laid hands on them and they sent them away.” That was the extent of it – there was no seminary, no doctorate, not even two years at Equipped for Life! God said he wanted those guys in ministry, the church agreed and sent them into ministry.
In Acts 18, a guy named Apollos wanted to go into ministry. The response of those around him was that they “encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him” (verse 27). Timothy was in ministry in Ephesus and in 2 Timothy 1: 6 Paul wrote to him to “kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands,” and reminded him that he and Paul had both “been called with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity” (verse 9). These people had training and life experiences that helped them minister, but it was God’s desire that they minister that made the difference.
EFL has an opportunity to show God our willingness to follow His lead this weekend. We are licensing and commissioning into the ministry two of our current students. Neither of them has yet completed the course work, but EFL leadership acknowledges God’s desire for them to minister, and we agree with Him by laying hands on them and sending them into the ministry! We are eager to both see God continue to use these ladies, and to receive wonderful ministry from them!