Kerkorde CRCNA (2010) CI.C.

I. The Offices of the Church

C. The Commissioned Pastors

Kerkorde CRCNA (2010) Art. 23-a

I. The Offices of the Church

C. The Commissioned Pastors


Commissioned pastors shall be acknowledged as such in their calling churches. Normally, their work on the church council shall be limited to the ministries in which they serve as commissioned pastors.

— Cf. Supplement, Article 23-a

Kerkorde CRCNA (2010) Ubp. Art. 23-a

I. The Offices of the Church

C. The Commissioned Pastors

Supplement, Article

General Regulations

The office of commissioned pastor is applicable to a variety of ministries, provided that these ministries fit the guidelines adopted by Synod 2001 and that the other Church Order and synodical regulations for the office of commissioned pastor are observed. These include ministries such as education, evangelism, pastoral care, music, and ministries to children, youth, adults, and others within or outside of the congregation. Before examining a person for the office of commissioned pastor or granting permission to install a previously ordained commissioned pastor in a new position, the classis, with the concurring advice of synodical deputies, will determine whether or not the position to which the person is being called fits the guidelines adopted by Synod 2001. In addition, the candidates for the office of commissioned pastor must have proven ability to function in the ministry to which they are being called.

Before a person who will serve as the solo pastor of an emerging or an organized church is examined for a position as a commissioned pastor, that person, in cooperation with classis, shall develop and complete a contextualized learning plan, adopted by classis and approved by the Candidacy Committee. Ordinarily the learning plan would include an introduction to the CRC Church Order, CRC history, CRC ministry, CRC creeds and confessions, Reformed hermeneutics, and an introduction to the discipline and art of preaching.

The candidate shall also sustain a classical examination. The concurrence of synodical deputies is not required for the examination of a candidate for the office of commissioned pastor. The classical examination shall include the following elements:
1) Presentation of the following documents
a) A council recommendation from the church in which the appointee holds membership
b) Evidence (diplomas, transcripts, etc.) of formal general education and of specialized training in the ministry area to which the candidate is being called
c) A copy of the letter of appointment from the church that is requesting ordination of the candidate as commissioned pastor
d) A copy of the candidate’s letter of acceptance
2) Where applicable, presentation of a sermon
a) In an official worship service, preferably on the Sunday preceding the meeting of classis and in the church to which the candidate for ordination has been called, the commissioned pastor shall preach a sermon on a text assigned by classis. Two members of classis shall be present to serve as sermon critics.
b) A copy of the sermon shall be provided to the classical delegates. In the presence of the commissioned pastor, the sermon critics shall evaluate the sermon and the commissioned pastor’s manner of conducting the entire worship service.
3) Examination in the following areas
a) Knowledge of Scripture
b) Knowledge of Reformed doctrine
c) Knowledge of the standards of the church and the Church Order
d) Practical matters regarding Christian testimony, walk of life, relationships with others, love for the church, approach to ministry, and promotion of Christ’s kingdom
The classis shall ensure that the candidate meets the standards of character, knowledge, and skill adopted by Synod 2004 (Acts of Synod 2004, p. 619) and inserted below.
The classis shall also ensure that commissioned pastors, especially those working at some distance from their calling congregations, will have proper supervision and support for their ministry.
When the commissioned pastors accept another call, their ordination shall require the approval of the classis to which their calling church belongs, to which the commissioned pastors shall have presented good ecclesiastical testimonies of doctrine and life given to them by their former council and classis.
A calling church that terminates the service of a person in an approved commissioned pastor position must seek the concurrence of the classis in which approval was given.

Elements of a Good Job Description

1. A description of the functions and responsibilities that are ministerial in nature (see the first paragraph of Church Order Supplement, Artricle 23-a).
2. A description of the supervision and lines of accountability for the position.
3. Specific notation of whether preaching and/or administering the sacraments are to be included in the position.

(Acts of Synod 2012, p. 741)
(Amended Acts of Synod 2013, p. 557)

Standards to be Met by Those Seeking to be Ordained as a Commissioned Pastor

An examination for the office of commissioned pastor will require that all commissioned pastors meet the church’s standards for character and knowledge, whereas the standards for skill competence will relate specifically to the particular commissioned pastor’s area of calling and expertise.

Qualifications for a Commissioned Pastor


The commissioned pastor is mature in Christ. “Christ-likeness” covers all of what it means to be godly. The following guidelines, which are rooted in Scripture (references are meant to be illustrative, not exhaustive), suggest many aspects of godly character:
1. Devoted to Jesus - The commissioned pastor is “in Christ” (John 15: 5), filled with his Spirit (Acts 1: 8), and exercises personal spiritual disciplines.
2. Committed to the church and its mission (Acts 20: 28, 1 Peter 5: 1-4, Eph. 4: 11-13, 1 Tim. 5: 22) - The commissioned pastor is a person in Christian community. She/he has been tested and proven. She/he has been recognized as prepared for ministry by the community of believers and evidences accountability to it.
3. Called and gifted (Matt. 28: 16ff, Acts 1: 8) - The commissioned pastor has a calling from God that is confirmed by the church. That calling provides her/him with a mission, with vision, and with intrinsic motivation. She/he ministers out of giftedness (1 Cor. 12, Rom. 12, etc.).
4. Filled with love (Matt. 22: 37-40) - The commissioned pastor is characterized by love — love of God, love of self, and love of others, including lost and diverse people.
5. Possesses the fruit of the spirit (Gal. 5: 22-23) - The commissioned pastor gives evidence of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.
6. Possesses the qualities of an officebearer (1 Tim. 3: 1-13, Titus 1: 5-9) - The commissioned pastor demonstrates such qualities as being: reputable, loyal, self-disciplined, respected, hospitable, mature, honest, sincere, teachable and able to teach, emotionally stable, blameless, lover of God and not money, resilient, responsible, not quick-tempered, not overbearing, not quarrelsome, not abusive (of others or substances), managing her/his own household well (including spousal support of ministry), risk-taking,  exible, adaptable, etc.
7. Has a servant’s heart (Matt. 20: 26) - The commissioned pastor is a servant-leader.
8. Possesses wisdom (Prov. 1: 1-7) - The commissioned pastor lives according to God’s design, recognizes Christ as “wisdom from God” (1 Cor. 1: 30, Col. 2: 3), and seeks wisdom from above (James 1: 5, 3: 13).
9. Manages life well - The commissioned pastor practices good stewardship of time, talents,  nances, and physical creation (Gen. 1: 27-28, Ps. 8: 6-8).
10. Eager to learn - The commissioned pastor is a lifelong learner, ever studying God’s word and world (Ps. 19) and demonstrates that she/he has been and is currently being mentored.

Biblical Knowledge

The commissioned pastor has a working knowledge of the Bible in her/his native language, and:
1. is able to identify Scripture’s main themes (covenant, kingdom of God, missio Dei, etc.) and to locate their place in the redemptive history that is centered in Christ;
2. has command of the divisions of Scripture (Law, prophets, gospels, epistles, etc.), the historical and literary contexts of each biblical book, and basic hermeneutical principles required to interpret them;
3. is able to demonstrate knowledge of key Scripture passages, and to apply them appropriately to life and ministry.
Based on the above, the commissioned pastor is able to prepare and preach/teach meaningful and motivational messages/lessons that are true to Scripture. The commissioned pastor is able to communicate clearly the gospel to unbelievers and believers.

Theological Knowledge

1. The commissioned pastor has knowledge of doctrinal standards and systematic theology at the level of Berkhof’s Manual of Christian Doctrine. This would include knowledge of Reformed systematic theology, the Ecumenical Creeds, and the three confessional standards of the Christian Reformed Church. Furthermore, the commissioned pastor is able to differentiate and defend the Reformed faith biblically from other systems of thought, both Christian and non-Christian. She/he is able to reflect from a biblical perspective on the cultures, circumstances, and events of everyday life and ministry.
2. The commissioned pastor has a basic knowledge of church history (including Christian Reformed Church history and culture) and is able to apply its lessons to present reality and ministry.

Skill - Practice of Ministry

Commissioned pastors give evidence of ministry skills. The skills necessary for ministry are many, and not all commissioned pastors possess them in the same measure. Someone in a ministry position will be expected to demonstrate skills in relation to the particularity of her/his position. Commissioned pastors, whether in specialized ministry within an organized congregation or in new church development, use skills to lead the church of Jesus Christ to fulfill the New Testament purposes of outreach, worship, fellowship, discipleship, and service. Some necessary ministry skills are:
1. Leadership & Administration - The commissioned pastor is able to help people and the church move from where they are to where God wants them to be. To do this, commissioned pastors possess such skills as: casting vision; creating ownership; creating functional organizational systems; resolving conflict; developing gift-based ministries; planning ministry; developing and mentoring leaders; and managing time, money, and people (according to principles of CRC polity).
2. Outreach - The commissioned pastor is able personally to share (witness); to defend (apologetics) the faith; and to lead the church in reaching out to the lost, in receiving them, and in developing new churches.
3. Worship - The commissioned pastor is able to prepare and deliver messages/teach lessons (homiletics), administer the sacraments, and lead in worship and prayer.
4. Pastoral Care - The commissioned pastor possesses relational skills that enable her/him to provide personally and through the church (corporately) pastoral care, visitation, small groups, youth ministry, spiritual counsel, and conduct of weddings and funerals.
5. Fellowship - The commissioned pastor is able to foster a nurturing Christian community.
6. Discipleship - The commissioned pastor is able to raise up, teach, and nurture disciple-making disciples.
7. Service - The commissioned pastor is able to respond to personal and community needs by mobilizing the church for ministry.
8. Specialized - The commissioned pastor has any necessary skills specific to her/his particular calling within the church.

(See Acts of Synod 2004, p. 619 and Agenda for Synod 2004, pp. 373-75)
(Amended Acts of Synod 2009, pp. 583-84)

Kerkorde CRCNA (2010) Art. 23-b

I. The Offices of the Church

C. The Commissioned Pastors


Ordinarily, the office of commissioned pastors who serve in emerging congregations will terminate when a group of believers becomes an organized church. However, upon organization and with the approval of the newly formed council and the classis, commissioned pastors may continue to serve the newly organized church until an ordained minister of the Word is installed or until they have served the newly organized church for a reasonable period of transition. Commissioned pastors who continue to serve a newly organized congregation beyond this reasonable period of transition must seek the permission of classis with the concurrence of the synodical deputies.

Kerkorde CRCNA (2010) Art. 23-c

I. The Offices of the Church

C. The Commissioned Pastors


Commissioned pastors may also serve in organized congregations along with a minister of the Word and may serve as chaplains in institutional settings in the community. Commissioned pastors who have served an organized congregation along with a minister of the Word may, in exceptional circumstances, with the approval of classis and the concurrence of synodical deputies, continue serving that congregation as a solo pastor after the minister of the Word has left.

— Cf. Supplement, Article 23-c

Kerkorde CRCNA (2010) Ubp. Art. 23-c

I. The Offices of the Church

C. The Commissioned Pastors

Supplement, Article

The mandate, characteristics, and guiding principles that define chaplains ordained as ministers of the Word are applicable to chaplains ordained under Article 23.

(Acts of Synod 2003, p. 613)

Kerkorde CRCNA (2010) Art. 23-d

I. The Offices of the Church

C. The Commissioned Pastors


Commissioned pastors may be called to serve as solo pastors in organized congregations if the classis, with the concurring advice of synodical deputies, ascertains that such congregations are from a ministry context where the standards for pastoral preparation required by Articles 6, 7, or 8 are not presently practical.

— Cf. Supplement, Article 23-d

Kerkorde CRCNA (2010) Ubp. Art. 23-d

I. The Offices of the Church

C. The Commissioned Pastors

Supplement, Article

Guideline for calling a commissioned pastor to an organized congregation

The ministry context is ordinarily one in which cultural differences (e.g., ethnic, social, economic, educational, language) between the congregation and its ministry context on the one hand, and the dominant culture of the denomination as expressed in the seminary, other leadership development entities, and broader denominational life on the other hand (a) present significant obstacles to raising up indigenous leadership in ways that are sustainable by the respective congregations and communities, and (b) have resulted in limited- or non-availability of competent indigenous leaders trained for ministry via one of the prescribed routes for ministry of the Word.

(Acts of Synod 2008, p. 520)

Kerkorde CRCNA (2010) Art. 23-e

I. The Offices of the Church

C. The Commissioned Pastors


Commissioned pastors who desire to serve beyond their specific field of labor must secure the approval of their consistories and classes.

Kerkorde CRCNA (2010) Art. 24-a

I. The Offices of the Church

C. The Commissioned Pastors


The task of the commissioned pastor is to bear witness to Christ through the preaching of the Word, the administration of the sacraments, church education, pastoral care, evangelism, and other ministries in order that believers may be called to comprehensive discipleship and unbelievers may be called to faith.

Kerkorde CRCNA (2010) Art. 24-b

I. The Offices of the Church

C. The Commissioned Pastors


Commissioned pastors shall function under the direct supervision of the council, giving regular reports to it and being present at its meetings, particularly when their work is under consideration.