Baptist ministers are ordained, or set aside for service, after they receive and accept the spiritual calling to become a pastor. Because the Baptist denomination is autonomous, there is no official set of policies that must be followed. Each church can establish its guidelines concerning the procedure for the ordination ceremony. Requirements are also not universal, but most baptist churches have similar criteria that prospective ministers must meet.
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A man must declare that he has been called by God to serve in the gospel ministry. This is usually expressed by the person making his calling public to his local church body. This church will usually license him into the ministry after approval by church vote. Church leaders look for evidence of a person's calling. Biblical evidence is considered most valid, specifically, First Timothy 3:1-7. This teaching of the Apostle Paul is generally accepted today as the list of qualifications for a minister.
The time between licensing and ordaining is not definite. A candidate may attend seminary or continue to work in his local church until he gets clear direction from God about his specific ministry assignment. Once he has been called by a church to serve as pastor, he will be ordained. His service history in previous churches will be evaluated to determine his standing when he left, length of membership, as well as duties or jobs he held while there.
The ordination of a Baptist minister usually involves two services. The first one is held in an informal setting. The candidate and the ordaining council attend this service. The council consists of ordained men who ask about a range of issues, from personal integrity to doctrine interpretation. Based on the responses they hear, the council will make the recommendation to the church body on whether to proceed with church vote or reject the candidate.
Once the candidate is recommended by the council and selected to be minister by church vote, the formal ordination service is held. A guest speaker or pastor delivers the ordination message in the form of a "charge" or challenge to the new minister and the church about their mission.
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