Here’s what the Baptist Faith and Message says about pastor ordination:
A leading seminary president has said that Southern Baptists don’t have a theology of ordination.
A brilliant and erudite blogger has said that some churches would ordain a ham sandwich. OK, maybe a turkey sandwich, a fish taco, a bowl of spicy ramen noodles, or the ultimate: a Chic-fil-A sandwich.
Here’s where you go in the SBC to find a registry of all ordained ministers: www.fahgettaboutitSBC. There is no requirement that any pastor in any position be ordained.
There is no limit to the positions, offices, or callings that SBC churches may ordain individuals for service. Solidly ordained positions include all manner of church staff, clerical, administrative, school teachers, coaches, rec directors, even janitors. The IRS is more interested in clergy ordination than the SBC.
You don’t have to be ordained to enroll at any seminary for any ministerial degree.
You don’t have to be ordained to be appointed by the IMB for overseas service.
I’m not certain about NAMB and church planters. Someone can inform me.
Churches are not given a list of requirements for ordination.
Churches are not required to follow any certain protocol in ordaining individuals.
There is no general prohibition at any level in SBC life to ordaining women. (Some associations, however, may have such prohibitions.)
Many churches no longer even check the ordination credentials for prospective ministers.
You do not have to be an actual pastor to be ordained, or to be called a pastor.
In ordaining an individual, a local SBC church need not involve any people outside the church – not the AMS, DOM, or AM, not any other local pastors. The pastor/church can simply present a candidate one Sunday for an ordination vote. In some SBC churches ruled by staff/elders, that group can pronounce a candidate ordained.
Prospective pastors have cultivated relationships with important megachurches and megapastors in order to show ordination by an important individual/church.
Once ordained, it is almost always the case that the individual is a permanent ministerial free agent. Once ordained, always ordained is the prevailing principle.
Ruminate on all that and then show how ordination can possibly be any part of discipline, correction, or restoration of wayward SBC clergy.
To wit: In all of the hundreds of articles and comments on Johnny Hunt, I’ve yet to see any mention of the church that ordained him.
A pastor could be a serial killer and maintain his ordination credentials.
The de facto ordination policy for almost all SBC churches is that if a guy says he’s ordained, that’s all that’s needed in that regard for a prospective church position. I’ve never heard of any search committee going back 10, 20, 30 years to question people in the church that ordained their candidate. Some churches have no requirement that their guy be ordained, although for vanity reasons they would prefer he have some reason to be addressed as “Dr.”. Mail order works as well as the most rigorous academic PhD program.
Add all that up and there is only one action that can deal with loose ordination practices: Churches can be excluded for not revoking the ordination of an adulterer, sex abuser, or other rascally, so-called Reverend.
If the situation has deteriorated to the point that a fallen minister can round up a few friends for a restoration process, leaving out the church that ordained him and the church where he committed the offense, the only action that can be taken is to exclude the churches supplying the restoration cabal. Count me as not optimistic on this happening.
I am highly committed to local church autonomy. Nobody, no organization tells Podunk Crossroads No. 2 Baptist Church what to do, sometimes not even Jesus.
Sometimes, I like the idea of being like the hierarchical religious bodies, then I read about the UMC and quickly get over it.