Becoming a commissioned pastor is one option for LDN graduates – as calling, training, character, skills and ministry aspirations align (photo here of LDN grad being prayed for at Classis Spring 2019).
A Commissioned Pastor (formerly called Ministry Associate) is a second position of ordination in the CRC that focuses on leadership for ministries including education, pastoral care, evangelism, outreach, music, ministries to children, youth, as well as adults and others within or outside the congregation. There are both benefits and limitations to being a Commissioned Pastor, with a defined process to becoming one.
Arising from a local ministry context, ordination of a new Commissioned Pastor typically occurs as follows:
- recognition of a ministry need for ordained leadership
- development of a matching job description
- approval of the job description (via classis)
- preparation for ordination
- examination by classis
Qualifications for a Commissioned Pastor
The Commissioned Pastor is mature in Christ – devoted to Jesus, committed to the church and its mission, being called and gifted, being filled with love, possessing the fruit of the Spirit, qualities of an office bearer, a servant’s heart, wisdom, managing his/her life well, and an eagerness to learn.
The Commissioned Pastor:
- has a working knowledge of the Bible in his/her native language,
- is able to identify Scripture’s main themes relating to redemptive Christ- centered history
- has basic hermeneutical principles to interpret context of Biblical books
- has knowledge of key Scriptural passages and is able to apply them to life and ministry
- is able to clearly communicate the gospel to unbelievers and believers.
The Commissioned Pastor:
- has knowledge of doctrinal standards and systematic theology
- is able to differentiate and defend the Reformed faith biblically from other systems of thought, both Christian and non-Christian.
- is able to reflect from a biblical perspective on the cultures, circumstances, and events of everyday life and ministry.
- has a basic knowledge of church history and is able to apply its lessons to present reality and ministry.
Skills – Practice of Ministry
Commissioned Pastors, regardless of their ministry, use skills to lead the church of Jesus Christ to fulfill the New Testament purposes of outreach, worship, fellowship, discipleship, and service. They include:
- leadership & administration – casting vision, creating ownership, creating functional organizational systems, resolving conflict, developing gift-based ministries, planning ministry, developing and mentoring leaders, managing time, money, and people.
- outreach – able to share his/her personal faith, defend the faith and to lead the church in reaching out to people in their communities, receiving them and leading them in discipleship.
- worship – able to prepare and deliver messages or teach lessons, administer the sacraments, and lead in worship and prayer.
- pastoral care – relational skills that enable him/her to provide personal and corporate pastoral care, visitation, small groups, youth ministry, spiritual counsel, and conduct weddings and funerals.
- fellowship – able to foster a nurturing Christian community.
- discipleship – able to inspire, teach, and nurture growing disciples.
- service – able to respond to personal and community needs by mobilizing the church for ministry.
- specialized – possesses necessary skills specific to his/her particular calling within the church.
Training Programs for Commissioned Pastors
General qualifications for the office are presented in the CRC Church Order Supplement, Article 23a. Based on this document, individuals, ministries, churches, and classes are encouraged to develop a learning plan for each potential Commissioned Pastor.
As a key part of the process, LDN provides an educational path for the training of Commissioned Pastors.
The CRC Candidacy Committee website has a section providing additional material, which is certain to be helpful in the overall process. The “Commissioned Pastor Handbook” includes much of the information on this page, and more. To access this document and other tools, visit this website