Commissioned pastors in the Reformed Church in America are elders who serve under the jurisdiction and within the boundaries of a particular classis, and who have completed a training and study program approved by the classis.
They are individually commissioned for a specific ministry need, which could be the need for a preacher or pastor in a small congregation, for a church staff member, church planter, or hospice worker, or for any other area of ministry that the classis deems appropriate to the training and gifts of the commissioned pastor.
An individual seeking to become a commissioned pastor:
- must first be recommended by his or her own congregation's consistory.
- must have a course of study and training approved and supervised by his or her classis. (In most cases the course of study will take at least two years.)
- after completing the course of study, will be officially commissioned after he or she has received an invitation to serve in a particular ministry that the classis has authorized and for which the classis has approved the contract.
A person retains the designation "commissioned pastor" only for the period of time that he or she is actively serving in a ministry approved and commissioned by the classis.
The performance of each commissioned pastor is evaluated annually by the classis. The classis will also assign a mentor for the period of training and ministry of each commissioned pastor candidate.