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How to Become a Minister in 2021

October 4, 2021 | Staff Writers

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As times change, more and more people seek to be spiritually connected, which has led to a rise in the need for spiritual leaders, ministers in this case. Although ministry, in most cases, is considered a spiritual calling, there are steps you must take before an ordination. An ordained minister has the authority of the church to administer spiritual guidance and services to the people. The church is the main body that officiates an ordination. The requirements to be an ordained minister vary depending on the denomination or congregation you intend to serve. However, the government has some regulations too that govern the operations of spiritual institutions.

Ministers perform important duties in the community. For this reason, some denominations have stringent requirements for one to be an ordained minister. Other than spiritual guidance, they offer marriage officiation and counseling when need be. Ministers are the epitome of moral behavior by many societies. Various theological seminary institutions teach aspiring ministers what is expected of them. Going through such institutions equips you with the knowledge and skills to effectively handle a congregation. There are many forms of ordination. These depend on the kind of theological seminary institution you attend. Studying to be a minister online could involve an online ordination.

To understand the steps to be a minister and the benefits therein, we explore the following in this article:

  1. Educational requirements to become a minister
  2. How to become ordained
  3. Certification and license requirements for ministers
  4. Minister salary and job growth

Educational Requirements to Become A Minister

Education is a requirement in all professions. The educational requirements for most professions vary depending on the technicality, and there are requirements that you must fulfill to be ordained as a minister. Ministers play various roles. The educational requirements depend on the nature of the job you intend to do in ministry. For instance, qualifications such as a master of divinity allow you to offer spiritual guidance to members of your denomination. Other jobs in ministry that require higher educational levels include:

  • Pastoring

Pastors are the most popular professionals in ministry. The main role of pastors is to nature the congregation in spiritual matters. Although some denominations appoint pastors within their congregation, others appoint pastors from theological training institutions. As a pastor, you will face questions about spirituality and general life from congregants. You must have proper knowledge of the Bible and other factors that affect the faith of congregants. Getting a theological certificate or associate degree qualifies you to be a pastor in some denominations. However, this depends on the nature of your congregation. If a great percentage of your congregants are highly educated, you might need higher education to lead them. An educated congregation poses technical questions about faith that need your intervention as their pastor.

  • Ministry Directors

Ministries are run just like companies. A ministry has several organs that should work concurrently for effective services to the congregants. For this reason, ministries need directors to oversee the integration in service delivery. To be a successful ministry director, you need higher education coupled with experience. Ministry programs such as charity and crusades involve a lot of logistics. Such activities require critical thinkers to be executed successfully. As a result, many denominations require at least a bachelor’s degree in related courses. In most cases, ministry directors do not need to be ordained as their services are not spiritually related. However, being an ordained minister increases your chances of being a ministry director. AN ordination implies that you have an understanding of spiritual matters, which is the center of ministries.

  • Evangelists

Evangelists are essential for ministry growth. Their main role is to engage with people and convince them of the importance of joining a ministry. Evangelism is one of the toughest jobs in ministry. You need to be well trained to be a successful evangelist. Other than having proper knowledge of the Bible, you must have great communication skills. You should interact with people without making them uncomfortable. Most theological institutions offer training in evangelism coupled with communication skills courses. In the modern world, you should be well versed in technology and computer skills. These allow you to make use of the internet in doing your evangelism duties. 

Most ministries appoint skilled individuals for evangelism duties because an evangelist represents the ministry to those who don’t know of it.

  • Service Coordinators

Every ministry converges at least once a week for spiritual teachings and prayer. These events are called services. For an efficient flow of activities in service, ministries need skilled service coordinators. The work of a coordinator is to oversee the synchrony of various elements that make the service a success. These elements include ushering of congregants, praise and worship sessions, and the main teachings. As a service coordinator, you need to have proper organizational skills to facilitate service. Additionally, you need to have a good spiritual foundation to understand what happens during a service. Some theological institutions offer training for service coordinators. In cases where such schools aren’t available, you can enroll in a different institution for a related course. Such courses include event organizing and management.

There are many more roles in the ministry that require technical skills and higher education. Higher education qualifications vary, and so does their significance in ministry. With some qualifications, you are more likely to secure better positions in the ministry while others keep you limited. If you are considering pursuing a degree to serve in the ministry, here are some of the most valuable degree programs you should go for.

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Theology- Theology is considered the foundation of ministry. Most denominations require a bachelor’s degree in theology to work within a ministry. You can obtain this qualification from accredited colleges or universities. You can also obtain your bachelor’s degree from accredited theology institutions. A bachelor’s degree in theology covers a wide area of ministry. You learn communication skills as well as evangelism, depending on the institution.
  • Master of Divinity Degree- To work in any ministry, you need deep knowledge of spiritual matters. One of the best ways to expand your understanding of Christianity is by attaining a master’s degree in divinity studies. This degree program equips you with adequate knowledge and skills to perform almost every role in the mi9nistry. The understanding of the Bible prepares you to be a pastor for your denomination. You also attain managerial and organizational skills that make you suitable for administrative positions in the ministry.

Although they are necessary, academic qualifications alone do not guarantee you a position in the ministry. Other factors, such as your contribution to society, could be assessed when applying for positions in the ministry. Taking part in activities such as social support and mentorship projects makes you a preferred candidate for ministerial positions. These co-curriculum activities not only improve your chances of being appointed. They equip you with the skills necessary for success in ministry. By interacting with people in volunteer programs, you learn about the spiritual and physical needs of the society you will be ministering to.

How to Become Ordained

Ordination is to ministry as licensing is to other professions. To practice as a minister for any denomination, you must be ordained by the denomination you serve. Denominations have varied requirements and procedures for ordination. Being an ordained minister is the first step into career growth in the ministry. Here are some common steps you might go through to be ordained as a minister for any denomination.

  • Complete Your Theological Training

To be ordained, you must be qualified enough to perform your duties as a minister. There are different forms of theological training you can attend. Depending on the institution you enroll in, you could be in an on-campus or online ministry degree program. There are different levels of theological training for ministers. At an entry-level, you need at least an associate degree to be ordained. However, the requirement could vary depending on the nature and size of the denomination you wish to serve. Theological schools teach you the basic knowledge and skills needed for ministry. However, you are likely to develop new skills as you progress in the ministry. Skills development is necessary, especially when you need to serve at higher levels within the ministry.

  • Complete Your Internship

Academic excellence is not enough evidence that you can serve in a ministry. You need additional experience to support your certificates. The experience you need depends on the nature of the work you aim for and the denomination you intend to serve. There are various ways to get the experience needed for ordination. One of these is through internship programs. After completing your theoretical school education, you can start working as an intern in the ministry. During the internship, you learn from seasoned ministers as they perform various ministerial duties. These include leading services and officiating marriages. Another way to gain ministerial experience is through practice even before joining a theological training institution. In this case, you could be working as an assistant to a minister in your denomination. The work experience you gain during practice under an ordained minister coupled with academic achievements qualify you for ordination. Internships are essential as you might need recommendations from people you previously worked with. Some denominations require that you work under one of the ordained ministers within them. The main reason for this is to get you acquitted with the procedures and culture of the denomination before ordination.

  • Get Certification and Licensing

Any profession within the US requires you to be licensed and registered before you start practicing. As an aspiring minister, you need to apply and register for government bodies that regulate the operation of religious leaders. Religion plays an important role in maintaining balance in the world. Therefore, the government needs to be aware of every minister performing religious duties, boosting accountability and limits misinformation of societies by rogue individuals that might use the ministry for personal benefits. In most cases, ministers are licensed through their denomination, implying that you have to submit a request to be licensed as a minister under the denomination you serve. For this reason, some licensing conditions could vary from one minister to another.

  • Ordination

The final step to becoming a minister is getting ordained by the denomination you serve. Ordinations occur for various reasons. The most popular one is for the approval of new ministers into the ministerial roles as official ministers of the denomination. However, ordination is done when one advances to the next level of their career as a minister. For instance, you could be ordained to be a bishop after serving as a pastor and attaining the necessary qualifications. Since ordination depends on the denomination you serve, the process could be different. While some ordinations involve a ceremony with many people, some are less publicized and only announced to the congregants. Some denominations will assess your qualifications first to determine whether you need to be ordained or not. In such cases, a council of the denomination administration sits to assess your skills and general behavior. If found to be unfit, your ordination could be nullified even after being licensed to minister.

Ordination is an important step in the career of ministers. It signifies the assumption of new roles within the society. Although the process could be different depending on denominations, most of the assumed duties are common. As an ordained minister, you will have to perform various functions within the society. However, most of your duties will be spiritual and according to the doctrines of Christianity. Some of the most common duties of an ordained minister include. Officiating religious ceremonies including funeral services and weddings. Most people associate death and marriage with a supreme being. Such ceremonies require the presence of a minister, one with adequate cultural competence.

Certification and License Requirements for Ministers

To become a minister in any denomination, you need to be ordained. However, ordination alone doesn’t give you the power to act as a minister. You need to have certain certifications from the government to operate as a minister freely. There are many reasons why the government regulates ministries. Based on both governmental and citizenry needs. Some of the common reasons for licensing and certification of ministers by the government include:

  • Population Statistics- Religion is an important component of census within a country. The number of individuals subscribing to certain religious beliefs could determine the balance within the country. Registration and licensing of ministers provide critical data on the control of Christianity within a region. Additionally, this information can gauge the impact of ministers in a certain region. For instance, ministers are considered influential in zones where the ratio of congregants to ministers is very high.
  • Allocation of Resources- Ministers are an important contact between the government and the people. Licensing of ministers helps in the identification of genuine ones and their denominations. With this information, the government could allocate state resources to help citizens through the ministers. For instance, allocation of student aid could be done through churches where the ministers are called upon to report on the character of potential beneficiaries of such programs. In case of catastrophes, ministers and churches distribute relief to the affected people.
  • To Regulate the Involvement of Ministers In Legal Services- There is a strong relationship between religion and governance. Ministers are involved in many activities that directly impact the running of the nation. To regulate the involvement of ministers in such activities, the government requires ministers to be licensed and certified. For instance, if you intend to be officiating marriages, you must be registered by the company. Ministers are key witnesses in marriage agreements. They could be contacted in case issues about marriages arise. Other than offering marriage counseling, ministers are signatories in marriages officiated by them. To protect the rights of people entering a marriage, the government only allows the registration of marriages officiated by licensed ministers. Even if you are ordained and have a master’s degree in ministry-related courses, you cannot officiate a marriage unless licensed by the government.

Although licensing by the government is necessary, some denominations allow ministers to practice without them. However, such ministers are not allowed to handle sensitive matters like marriage officiating. The thin line between ordination and licensing could lead to a misunderstanding of the roles played by ministers. When you get ordained to be a minister, you become a part of the ministry that ordained you. This implies that you get to perform duties delegated to you by the denomination. However, the denomination will not allow you to perform duties that require a license from the government. You can go as high as being part of the ministry’s administration but cannot perform certain duties without a government license.

There are various forms of licensing. The most common one is the Certificate of License for the Gospel Ministry. This license mainly focuses on allowing prospective ministers to preach and hold religious gatherings. However, the license does not allow other roles, such as officiating marriages. Licensing is through the administrative board of the denomination you serve. Therefore, the initial step to getting licensed to submit a request through the board. The board reviews your application and approves your licensure. In your application, you might have to include an official statement outlining your intentions for seeking licensure.

Licensure does not guarantee success in the ministry. Once you are licensed and ordained, you should develop soft skills to help you in the ministry. These skills include technology and computer skills. In the changing modern world, a lot of information is shared through the internet. Mastering the internet allows you to reach a wider audience and minister to them.

Minister Salary and Job Growth

One of the main reasons people enter careers is for financial gain. However, this is not the case with the ministry. Being in ministry means you will have to sacrifice more than you get in some cases. Being a minister is usually considered a spiritual calling. This is the main reason why people entering this career do not expect much in return. However, some denominations pay their ministers for the human services offered. Since churches are non-profitable organizations, you should not expect much as a minister. It is mainly human service. Some denominations might require you to have an additional income-generating job to be ordained and licensed to be part of the ministry.

Once you are a minister, you can make more money from the services you offer to congregants. However, rising through the ranks in the ministry could be challenging. Unlike other careers, when advancing in education guarantees promotion, you must prove your academic excellence with actual work. Before enrolling in a theological institution, you should identify with a denomination you wish to serve. The denomination will provide spiritual guidance to you throughout your study period. Additionally, some institutions require a recommendation from denomination heads when administering students.

Graduating from a theological school means you have the necessary knowledge of religion and its role in society. An internship allows you to strengthen your knowledge and skills before being ordained to be a minister. After ordination, many people find it hard to rise to the next level as ministers. During ministry, you should sharpen your ministerial skills and education. Being a seasoned minister attracts respect from other ministers and the congregation. Advancing your education is one of the best ways to sharpen your knowledge and skills. It broadens your view on matters affecting the ministry and possible solutions to problems faced in the ministry. Some denominations might not require formal education to ordain you as a minister. In such institutions, you only have to work under an ordained and licensed minister for a certain period. During this period, you are expected to learn through apprenticeship. You get promoted to higher positions in the ministry, depending on the work you do.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average minister earns between $52,000 and $170,000 per year. You must be working in a big denomination to earn a lot of money from the ministry. However, the ministry provides a lot of opportunities to earn more money for both young and old ministers. One of the most common ways to make more money as a minister is through writing. Many best-selling authors around the world are ministers. Books, especially motivational books, have a lucrative market. If you work in a denomination with many congregants, you can leverage your position for marketing your published books.

Other ways to earn as a minister are motivational speaking and spiritual master classes. Motivational speakers make a lot of money speaking to different audiences. You could teach people essential life skills. If you have event organizational skills, you could organize Christian events and charge people entry fees. Although some ministers are paid less, specialized ministers could earn slightly higher salaries. Some skills such as sound engineering and lighting are rare and essential for running ministries. Therefore, ministers with such skills are highly paid to continue working for the ministry.

In Summary

Ministry is one of the careers you can practice out of passion. Although educational qualifications are required for licensure, you could be ordained without formal education. Ordination and license are different though closely related. As an ordained minister, you have authority over certain activities within the denomination you serve. Government-related activities such as marriage officiation require certification from the government. There are many reasons why licensing of ministers by the government is important. However, the main reason is to increase the accountability of individuals taking part in religious activities. Many jobs within a ministry require different skills. Although it is the primary duty in ministry, preaching is only one of several duties that require technical skills. Positions such as ministry directors require technical skills that are not taught in theological schools.

The ordination process varies from one denomination to another. Equally, how much you earn as a minister depends on the denomination you work for. Some denominations pay their ministers higher salaries. In such denominations, the ministers are too preoccupied with ministry to work on their own for money. There are several other ways of earning as a minister. They include writing books and organizing events. In the modern world, many people are seeking answers to questions about religion and spirituality. As a well-versed minister in such matters, you can become a keynote speaker and earn from it. Although the ministry provides income-generating opportunities, money should not be your main aim of joining the profession. Dealing with communities requires you to make sacrifices that could be disappointing if you are money-oriented.

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