Project Wittenberg

The Ministry
Offices, Procedures and Nomenclature


A Report of the
Commission on Theology and Church Relations
of the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod

September 1981

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1. The office of the public ministry is unique and mandated by the Scriptures as the God-appointed means of exercising the Office of the Keys. It is a ministry of Word and sacrament and is entered into by the call of God through the church.

2. Other offices in the church have Scriptural example but are not mandated. They are auxiliary to the office of the public ministry to assist in various functions of that office.

3. The call of the church is essential for holding offices in the church, not only that of the office of the public ministry but also that of the auxiliary offices.

4. Office and functions usually go together' but may be separated. Functions of the office of the public ministry that are performed by others remain the responsibility of the office of public ministry and must be supervised by it.

5. Not only local segments of the church but the entire confessional fellowship is involved in establishing offices (other than the pastoral ministry) and in determining eligibility for calls into all such offices of the church. Such authority is delegated by the congregations of the Synod.

6. The nomenclature employed for the various offices and procedures in the church is an adiaphoron, but order and tranquility in the church require agreement and consistent practice throughout the church.

7. The Lutheran Church, and specifically a synodical fellowship, must deal with ministry according to its own theological position and not be influenced by conflicting views held in other church bodies or in society in general.

8. Emergency situations in the church may require procedures that are outside of the usual practice. In such cases order in the church requires that care be taken by those responsible for such arrangements, so that unusual circumstances are not allowed to become the rule and that the welfare of the whole church be considered in such arrangements.

9. Service in a local, geographic congregation is not the benchmark in determining who is in the office of the public ministry or its auxiliary offices. Congregations may delegate the authority to call to other agencies of the church. The church may call its pastors or its leaders in the auxiliary offices to specialized and limited functions of the office of the public ministry without thereby calling them out of their offices in the church.

10. Matters regarding the ministry that are not clearly defined by Scripture may be treated as adiaphora but with due concern for uniformity, the sensitivities of others in the church, and the progress of the work of the church in all the world.

11. The church is under obligation to explain to appropriate civil authorities and to the general public the nature of its ministry and offices. The avoidance of confusion requires that this be done consistently from place to place and from time to time.

12. Ministry in the church is ultimately the ministry of Christ. All members of the body of Christ are involved in it. The members of the priesthood of believers are not merely recipients of ministerial service. The ministry belongs to Christ and to the church.


This text was converted to ASCII text for Project Wittenberg by Rev. Robert Grothe and Rev. Todd Dittloff and is in the public domain. You may freely distribute, copy or print this text. Please direct any comments or suggestions to:

Rev. Robert E. Smith
Walther Library
Concordia Theological Seminary.

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