Saving Ordination

I had a dream the last night that was a bit different. As usual I cannot remember too many details, but the part that stuck with me after awakening was unusual enough to keep my attention.

In my dream I was participating in an ordination service. But this was surprisingly different from any ordination service I have ever heard about. This elaborate public service with all the involvement of church leaders you might expect at an ordination was to lay hands on the church janitor.

Sound crazy? Well, sadly it only sounds crazy because we have strayed so far from the clear teachings of Jesus and have been infected with the spirit and practices of the world. In my dream it was clear that the church janitor needed to be publicly affirmed, encouraged and honored for their faithful work, their passion for humble service and their devotion to Christ. It was simply the obvious thing to do.

In addition, it was to be arranged for this janitor to be further appreciated by having a reserved parking place designated for them close to the door and a special sign made for them to display in their car so they could have the best place in the parking lot (you know, the spot we usually reserve for the head pastor).

Outside of my dream world this all seems rather bizarre, but as I pondered it I realized that maybe what we consider to be silly pipe dreams are actually realities in the kingdom of heaven. The way we currently practice ordination may in reality be sickening to the view of holy angels. Despite all our objections to the contrary, we still refuse to take seriously the clear instructions of Jesus for His disciples.

He who wishes to be greatest among you must be the most humble servant of all.

If we really believed Jesus and took His words seriously, we would come to see that the more resistant a person is to being ordained, the more likely that they are qualified. Stephen was an ordained deacon, yet he was also a compulsive preacher. Actually there were no ordained preachers at the beginning of the Christian church. Preaching was just what anyone might do spontaneously from the passion of their love for Jesus.

It is time to rescue ordination from the crass and perverted practice it has become. If we insist on continuing to use this pagan term (which attitude itself betrays something less than a Christ-like spirit), then we should at least return to the standard that Jesus gave us for determining how and why it should be done, what it means and its purpose.

If there must be any hierarchy among us it should only be of the kind that Jesus spoke about to His disciples. The greatest among you will be the least and the least the greatest. This does not mean we just pretend being least so we can get promoted; it means that only the genuinely humble, the ones who truly reflect the humility and passionate love of Jesus the most clearly will be the ones selected for public recognition, honor and the full support and sponsorship intended in original ordination.

True biblical ordination is nothing more than an acknowledgment and affirmation and commitment to support what God has already been demonstrating through a person's spirit and in their activities. There is no place in Christ's kingdom for the multi-tiered system of assumed authority we now practice in ordination. What we currently practice is actually an affront to the spirit and teachings of Jesus and it undermines the very foundation of the kingdom He came to set up on this earth. Clinging to our pagan system of ordination and insisting that it is God's will for us is to reject the very gospel of Jesus.

Today we commonly have checklists of requirements that must be fulfilled by anyone looking to be ordained. Ordination has become all about status, more favorable financial compensation and the ability to have control over more people. This is all in violation of the clear teachings of Jesus but yet is fostered because we have such vested interest in maintaining our worldly system of power and control.

If we desire to return to something similar to what the early believers practiced, then instead of compiling a list of requirements and insisting on fulfilling of a checklist of required positions held within the church as prerequisites to achieve graduation to a higher position of power, organic function in the body of Christ would simply recognize, honor, affirm and amplify what God's Spirit has been doing in a person's life as the early believers did with each other. Gone would be the notions and practice of hierarchy and stratified pay scales. Gone would be the dependence on expensive educational achievements as priority for recognition. Gone would be the pride and hypocrisy that now saturates all levels of church governance. Gone would be the present selfishness that denies the gospel of Christ.

In the true body of Christ I believe that what I observed in my dream might actually be thought of as normal in real life. I believe that day might not be far away. I have no hope that the corporate church as we know it will ever go there, for there is far too much vested interests to protect in our monolithic system and such thinking would dismantle what we have spend decades working to reinforce.

I expect to see soon the true organic body of Christ emerge into the open, composed of God's true children all led by an openness to the leading of His Spirit and connecting to each other by His grace. Then we will once again see the same spirit and practices that marked the early believers, only this time we will see on a global scale the real power of humble, love-based service. When this happens it will bring shame and confusion to our current system of ecclesiastical power. Then leaders will be those who are truly the most humble, not selected on the basis of having long degrees after their names or substantial financial clout. At that time the words and teachings of Jesus will be given highest honor and priority as those who actually take Him seriously learn to reflect His Spirit and demonstrate the effectiveness of His methods and the true gospel will spread with super efficiency.


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