Baptism and Ordination
(written in the week preceding my ordination to the Baptist Ministry)

Baptism for a Christian marks their initiation into Christ.  It is a dramatic symbol of the change that has taken place in the life of an individual - death to the old life, burial, and resurrection to new life. It is a dramatic symbol of our oneness as the body of Christ.  We all pass through the waters of baptism, into the church - the body of Christ.  However, the story does not end there. Baptism marks the beginning of a life of service to God, or as 1 Peter 3:21 describes it "the response of a good conscience towards God".

Baptism marks out a commitment to every-member ministry. Jesus' baptism signalled the beginning of his ministry. The writer to the Hebrews tells us that we are saved (cleansed) in order that we might serve the living God (Heb 9:14). This is because baptism not only marks out a commitment to Christ, but to his body (the church) at the same time.  It is regarded as the first in service to God.

Traditionally, the ordination of men for the service of ministry has been to the exclusion of others.  The minister is a "professional" christian, which relieves the rest of us of the responsibility of service. Today, however, we have rediscovered the central truth that ministry belongs to the whole church with every member taking part.  Ordination is the recognition of a certain giftedness for service to the whole church, for the building up, equipping leadership of other believers.  This is to be understood in light of the truth that baptism is every christian's "ordination" to miniistry - not to an office - but to serving God.

The success of the ministry of the church today depends ultimately upon the willingness of all believers to accept the commissioning of baptism to service.  As pastoral team, it is our role to equip and to lead in this way.

October 13, 1991
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