Kinda funny to think about, but no one would visit a medical doctor that has no formal medical training. Yet, many go to a church every week where the pastor, who is responsible for their spiritual care, has no formal training.
The way I see it, the Church has too many people in places of authority that should not be. Certainly, many of them are gifted leaders. They may well be called to ministry. But too often they lack the necessary training.
There are three reasons why I believe every pastor should be ordained: that is, why they should have an authorized group of leaders recognize and affirm not simply that they are called, but that they are qualified to lead a congregation (mind you that I am not saying that ordination is fool-proof).
1) Ordination is intended to make sure the pastor is qualified and properly equipped.
The importance of this cannot be overstated. The pastor is to teach and equip the saints. After all, it is the knowledge and application of the Word that is one of the central elements of dynamic spiritual growth in the life of the people of God (cf the “renewing of the mind” Rom 12:2; or, the charge that we are to be “doers of the Word” James 1:22; or the prayer of Jesus that the Father “sanctify them in the Truth, the Word is Truth” John 17:17; see also 1 John 1:10; 2:5, 7, 14).
In addition, we must understand that the weaponry of our enemy is deception. He is the one who “deceives the whole world” (Rev 12:9). Jesus constantly warned His disciples about “false prophets” and such. This is a serious matter for the Church.
Since knowing and applying the Word is so vital to the growth of the people of God, and since the main weaponry of our enemy is deception, the Church must be careful not to appoint people to leadership who are ill-equipped to help the people of God in the battle for truth.
2) A denomination determines the doctrine that the pastor and local church must adhere to.
This is meant to ensure that no leader can mislead a congregation. Of course, it still happens. But the point is that safe guards are in place to deal with it. In some of these non-denominational settings a senior leader, who founded the church based on his/her charismatic personality, maintains control over the congregation to the extent that, even if he/she started preaching heresy, they would still maintain enough influence to win the congregation to their side.
In many such instances, there are few persons in the congregation, or even on the staff, who could argue effectively with such a pastor who has strayed. Furthermore, most of these leaders have enough influence to ensure that they are going to win such debates. In a denominational or confessional setting, the pastor is bound by the essential beliefs of that group. Without a denominational structure in place it is much more problematic trying to out a pastor who is espousing suspect theology.
3) What happens if a pastor falls into sin: morally or practically?
Discipline is, unfortunately, a necessary feature of the church. But what if the leader is the one in need of discipline? In many of the rising non-denominational churches today, the pastor/leader is a charismatic figure who founded the church. Disciplining such a person is often-times very difficult. And the aftermath is quite ugly.
In a denominational setting, there is a structure in place to address the pastor who has failed. It may not always work perfectly. But it is designed to protect the pastor, those whom the pastor may be affecting, the larger Church, and the community. Regardless of how charismatic and powerful a voice a leader might have, a denominational setting is more effective in addressing such issues.
The naïve assume that the church they are a part of is immune to such issues. Their leader is different. Maybe so. But, is it fair to place him/her in such a position of potential danger? Is it fair to the congregation, to the leader, and to the community?
I recognize that denominationalism is in many ways dying. The solution cannot be to move away and start all over. Denominations are necessary. We must find a way to reform them.