Today I was privileged to head out to an ordination service for a pastor in our local association. As I was hopping into a friend’s car to begin the trek to the church, it dawned on me I hadn’t been to an ordination service for a while. In fact, I believe I accidentally slept through the last one I had intended to attend 1. Oddly enough, these aren’t the types of gatherings which appeal to me. Too often they devolve into endless line of preachers, each insecurely trying to outdo the person who came before them in the worship order. They typically do this with a joke, “Of course it’s dangerous to put a pastor behind a pulpit and expect them not to preach!” 2
This is a service I really wanted to attend, however, given that I’ve known the pastor the entire time I’ve been here in New Jersey and he’s always been extremely gracious. As part of region staff I’ve seen folks really rooting for him to move through the process and finish this journey. As a fellow believer I’ve seen how much he loves the folks he shepherds and how much they love him. And so I hopped in the car on a Sunday afternoon, during the time when I’m normally semi-conscious, to be part of his ordination.
Not even a string of preachers could keep me away.
I’m glad I went. The pastors who spoke pretty much knew that this wasn’t their day, and were folks who are really secure in their own pastoral identity. They’re just some nice folks who want to serve Jesus. Even better, this pastor’s congregation was a lot of fun, probably the type of people Central 3 would happily hang out with. It was also clear how they wanted their pastor to be ordained. At four separate times during the service the story of his journey’s successful completion was mentioned, each time the congregation broke into cheers and applause. For them, the pastor’s ordination was as much a success for the congregation as it was for the pastor. This stuck with me. It was probably the first ordination service I’ve been to that felt like a celebration instead of a formality 4, right down the song which highlighted his lack of singing ability during the reception 5.
From a “production standpoint” the service wasn’t a massive melodrama or “event.” Nor did project any insights which haven’t been heard before 6. It was simply an act of love and celebration, and that was enough.