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of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, 1995
Article 15. Ministry and Leadership
We believe that ministry
continues the work of Christ, who gives gifts through the Holy Spirit
to all believers and empowers them for service in the church and in the
world. We also believe that God calls particular persons in the church
to specific leadership ministries and offices. All who minister are
accountable to God and to the community of faith as they serve the
Christ invites all
Christians to minister to each other in the church and on behalf of the
church beyond its boundaries.  Christ
enables them for ministry in response to specific needs and
opportunities.  Such service is a
participation in God's creative work of building up the body of Christ
in love and of witnessing to God's righteousness in the world. 
The church calls, trains,
and appoints gifted men and women to a variety of leadership ministries
on its behalf. These may include such offices as pastor, deacon, and
elder as well as evangelists, missionaries, teachers, conference
ministers, and overseers.  The
character and reputation of leaders is to be above reproach. Following
the example of Christ, persons so appointed preach and teach with
authority, interpret the Scriptures and the faith diligently, speak
divine truth with boldness, equip the saints, relate with compassion to
the needy, and lead the congregation in faithful living, so that the
church may be "built together spiritually into a dwelling place for
The confirmation of the
call to a particular ministry is a sign of mutual accountability
between the church and its chosen representative. A time of discernment
may be followed by ordination or a similar act, accompanied by laying
on of hands.  This act symbolizes the
person's responsibility as a servant of the Word. The congregation and
the wider church or conference share in this act as an indication of
their blessing and support and as a reminder of the person's
accountability before God and the church, and of the church's
responsibility toward the person.
(1) Matt. 25:31-40; 1 Cor. 12:31-13:13.
(2) Eph. 4:7; Rom. 12:4-6; 1 Pet. 4:10-11.
(3) Eph. 4:15-16; Luke 10:1-37.
(4) Eph. 4:11-13; 1 Cor. 12:28; Rom. 12:6-8; 1 Tim. 3:1-13; Tit. 1:5-9.
(5) Rom. 10:14-15; Matt. 7:29; Titus 2:15; 1 Tim. 4:13; Jer. 1:4-10; 2
Tim. 4:1-3; Eph. 4:11-13; Phil. 2:1-4; Eph. 2:22.
(6) 1 Tim. 5:22; Exod. 29:35.
1. The Anabaptists called persons to special roles of spiritual
leadership in the church. The study of the Bible, the need for order,
and the recognition of giftedness led them to this practice. The
purpose of such chosen leaders was not to relieve the other believers
of responsibility, but to represent Christ and the church in the
congregation and on the church's behalf in the world. The Anabaptists
did not use the concept of the "priesthood of all believers" to
downplay the need for spiritual leaders with special roles in the
church. Menno Simons mentioned the "priesthood of all believers" to
encourage all believers, as "priests," to lead a holy life in order to
be witnesses to the God who called them from darkness to light (1 Pet.
2. In the New Testament
the earliest references to leadership ministries mention disciples and
apostles. Ephesians 4:11 mentions a fivefold ministry of apostles,
prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. In 1 Timothy 3, bishops
and deacons are named. We also see a threefold pattern emerging in the
New Testament: bishops, elders, and deacons. In the Mennonite tradition
this threefold pattern can be found as well. There have also been
variations, such as sending out evangelists and missionaries. The
church has adapted its leadership patterns from time to time and should
have the freedom to continue to do so, including the recognition of
evangelists, prophets, and teachers.
3. The act of ordination
(or similar acts such as licensing and commissioning) symbolizes a
combination of God's call, the congregation's affirmation, the
recipient's dedication to ministry, and the blessing of the wider
church. Ordination follows a process of discernment in the congregation
and in the wider church or conference. It is a one-time event, kept
active by continuing service in and for the church. Ordination is
normally transferable from one congregation or conference assignment to
another. Licensing for pastoral assignments is for a preliminary period
of time. Commissioning is normally for a specific assignment.
the delegates of Mennonite Church General Assembly, and of the General
Conference Mennonite Church Tricentennial Session, July 28, 1995,
Wichita, Kansas. Copyright © 1995 by Herald Press Scottdale PA
15683. Used by permission. Order print copies of Confession of
Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, and Summary Statement,
Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, From Herald Press, Scottdale,
Pa. Worship resources
based on this confession, and translations
are also available.
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