I presided yesterday over the installation of Rich Villodas as my successor at New Life Fellowship Church. It was one of the highlights of my 26 years there as the Founder/Senior Pastor.
An installation is like a wedding in which two parties make vows. While that analogy is helpful, I believe the term “covenant” (i.e. a solemn agreement between two parties) is a better term to use when framing a pastor’s relationship with a congregation. While a covenant is not always permanent like a vow, it implies responsibilities, obligations, and privileges. It is a promise, a trust.
I learned from some of my Anglican and Presbyterian friends about their process and theology. This, in turn, helped me to shape the installation around the public making of a solemn covenant. It was deeply moving and powerful.
A number of people asked me if I would make the text of the covenant agreement available. Here it is:
Pete: Rich Villodas, New Life Fellowship Church has chosen you and have affirmed their trust in you.
- As a Lead Pastor in God’s Church, you are called to proclaim Christ’s resurrection, preach the Gospel, and to testify to Christ’s sovereignty as Lord of lords and King of kings.
- You are called to guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church; to celebrate and to provide for the administration of the sacraments of the New Covenant; to lay your hands on others, carefully and prayerfully, for leadership, and to be in all things a faithful pastor and example for the entire flock of Christ.
- With your fellow pastors, you will share in the leadership of the Church throughout the world. Your now join with those of every generation who have served in leadership among God’s people since the beginning of time.
Pete: Will you accept this call to be Lead Pastor and fulfill this trust in obedience to Christ? Rich: Yes
Pete: Rich you believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary to salvation? Rich: I do.
Pete:Do you commit to Model the NLF Rule of Life, leading the church out of a both a deep interior life with God, and out of a marriage with Rosie that reflects the union of Christ and the Church? Rich: By God’s grace, I will.
Pete: Do you commit to shepherd NLF so she can fulfill her mission by providing leadership, aligning the many parts of NLF into a cohesive whole, building team unity, and sustaining a healthy environment that serves as foretasted of the kingdom of heaven? Rich: By God’s grace, I will.
Pete: Will you be faithful in prayer, and in the study of Holy Scripture, that you may have the mind of Christ? Rich: By God’s grace, I will.
Pete: Will you promise to feed the flock of Christ committed to your charge, to guard and defend them in His truth, and be a faithful steward of his holy Word? Rich: By God’s grace, I will.
Pete: As Lead Pastor, will you encourage and support all people in their gifts and ministries, nourishing them from the riches of God’s grace, and holding them in your heart in prayer without ceasing? Rich: By God’s grace, I will.
Pete: Will you guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church of God? Rich: By God’s grace, I will.
Pete: Will you share with your fellow elders and pastors in the government of the Church, and will you carefully appoint godly shepherds and leaders who will join with you to serve and expand God’s kingdom in and through NLF to the world? Rich: By God’s grace, I will.
Pete: Will you be merciful to all, show compassion to the poor and strangers, and defend those who have no helper? Rich: By God’s grace, I will.
The Congregation Stands
Obey your leaders. Put yourselves under their authority. They keep watch over you. They know they are accountable to God for everything they do. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. Hebrews 13:17
Pete: Will you receive this messenger of Jesus Christ, sent by God to serve NLF as her Lead Pastor? People: We will.
Pete: Will you pray for him, help him and honor him in this large responsibility as Lead Pastor of NLF that has been given to him by God? People: We will.
Pete: Will you, in all things, strive to live together in the peace and unity of Christ? People: We will.
Pete: Will you love him, pray for him and forgive him? People: We will.
Pete: Will you offer him patience, kindness, and understanding in difficult times? People: We will.
Pete: Do you promise to receive the word of truth from his mouth with an open heart, and to follow his leadership as he shepherds NLF into the future God has ordained for her? People: We will.
Pete: Do you promise to serve him and his family so that the kingdom of God might expand through his leadership? People: We will. Yesterday was so magnificent that it made me wonder what the future might look like if my generation set up all our young, gifted leaders with this kind of a process and theological understanding.