What Does An Ordained Minister Do?
As an ordained minister, you can officiate wedding ceremonies, baptisms, and other religious ceremonies, depending on the organization or denomination you serve. Do you want to be an ordained minister?This picture to the left shows a couple in Idaho who in October 2014 were threatened with harsh and severe punishment if they didn’t comply with government standards. You can read more about what happened here. The bent this post is taking comes from a distinctively Christian and Bible based worldview. We are not arguing who should be ordained (such as women ordination or same-sex ordinations) here in this post. Nor is this a Biblical exposition of the subject. With this in mind, please continue.
Understand there is more responsibility to being ordained than just officiating ceremonies. Being ordained can be a rewarding experience. But then again, it can be a real challenge. If you did a search on Google for the keyword “ordained minister,” you’d instantly find several sites that advertise free ordination online. Regardless of what you believe about Hollywood embracing ordination, these sites are certainly effective for those who want the easy path.
Yoda’s Interview on the Free Online Ordained Minister Process
Now, I enjoy Yoda from Star Wars legend. Regarding quick and easy ordinations, He is quoted as saying, “If you end your training now–if you choose the quick and easy path as Vader did–you will become an agent of evil.”
Training? That sounds hard. That sounds long. That sounds like self-sacrifice. Sure, in the movie he was talking about Jedi training. In this post, I am talking about ministry training to becoming an ordained minister.
I recommend something far more enduring than what’s out there on page 1 of Google at the moment. Forgive me if this seems like a to-do list or a “ten steps to become an ordained minister” post, but, you’d be right from a certain point of view (to quote Obi-Wan Kenobi, but I digress). But this post is more than just a ten-stepper. This post is a call to action for those who are interested in becoming an ordained minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ AND who want to serve Him in the most challenging, rewarding, fulfilling, yet complex and sometimes even dangerous professions.
I love how Noah Webster in his 1828 Dictionary defined Ordination. It’s the state of being appointed. It’s the act of conferring holy orders or sacerdotal power on someone.
“In the Presbyterian and Congregational churches, the act of settling or establishing a licensed clergyman over a church and congregation with pastoral charge and authority;
also, the act of conferring on a clergyman the powers of a settled minister of the gospel, without the charge or oversight of a particular church, but with the general powers of an evangelist, who is authorized to form churches and administer the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper, wherever he may be called to officiate.”
Neil’s Nine Next Steps to Becoming an Ordained Minister
Let’s get to the list first, and then I’ll come back to the “seeks disciples” part.
Just for reference, WikiHow starts us off with a decent article, although trying to be somewhat denominationally generic (hard not to). Here’s my list:
- Ask God… Does HE want you to become an Ordained Minister? This is not an arbitrary decision or first step. Don’t skip it! Have you even asked Him what He wants from you? Have you asked Him how He would like you to be faithful to Him in this life?
- Do you understand what Ordination is? This is not meant to condescend, but not everyone really understands this. There are responsibilities involved with one’s organization or with God and His people regarding ordination. The association I serve and am credentialed through has an excellent FAQ on ordination here.
- Ask yourself WHY do I want to become an Ordained Minister? I can’t answer this for you, but you can start by asking yourself and God… “How do I want to be faithful to God?” Have you been called to serve but don’t have the money or time for traditional seminary? Have you been asked to officiate a wedding? Do you want to start your own church or missionary ministry? Whatever the reason, evaluate your commitment and willingness to take on the role of minister. Here are some benefits to getting ordained (adapted from the EFCA’s Credentialing page):
- Recognition of God’s calling to and gifting for ministry.
- Synergy between you the ordained minister, the local church (I’m coming from the paradigm that this is a critical component, as I believe the church ordains, not a lone Christian in a vaccuum to one’s self), and higher authorities – to ensure commitment to and alignment of beliefs (such a Statement of Faith) and ethos;
- Accountability to the local church and to the denomination, both doctrinally and morally
- Development educationally and personally
- Confirmation of legal status by the IRS (through one’s organization).
- Consider whether becoming a minister online will affect your standing in your current church. If you want to perform a wedding for a friend or officiate at someone’s funeral but you already belong to a different religion, investigate whether becoming ordained online could get you excommunicated. Some religious organizations (such as the Catholic Church and the LDS Church) consider becoming a minister in another religion apostasy, and grounds for immediate excommunication. If you’re unsure, ask your local clergy for guidance. This makes total sense. Why support an organization you’re not committed to? What do your pastors, elders, deacons, or leaders say? What does your spouse say (if married)?
- Discover if you even legally can be a minister in your state or locale. Look up your state’s laws, or call your county clerk for more information on getting ordained if you’re really wanting to do it so you can perform a friend’s wedding. Some states require minister licensing, which is the process of registering as clergy with the state. In the USA, here are the states which currently do NOT require ministerial licensing to do this: AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, DE, FL, GA, IN, IA, KS, MD, ME, NE, NH, NM, OR, RI, TX, VT, WA (as of 1/5/2015).
- Discern the organization you align best with (in beliefs and with your needs). Research an online ministry you can see yourself joining. Make sure that whatever you choose is an incorporated and legitimate organization or denomination. WikiHow recommends in their article:
- “Choose a service that will send you a hard copy of your credentials, with an original signature and a seal. Additionally, find out if they’ll send a letter of good standing or a wallet card. Free ordinations will usually provide a certificate to be printed from your browser. A higher-quality version, often with a gold seal will normally have to be ordered for a nominal fee.
- Don’t be fooled by sites that say a church must be a tax-exempt organization to be valid. This is not true. It is totally up to the organization to decide if they wish to apply to the IRS for tax-exempt status. Some organizations choose to keep government out of religion through the payment of taxes.”
- Contact potential ministries. You will need to drive the ship if you want to take this step. Becoming an ordained minister is not really like talent scouting in sports. They don’t come to you, you’ve got to go to them. Find out the next step in the process. Don’t be shy! Will your ordination will be sufficient to perform any ceremonies you’re interested in doing? Find out. If they don’t respond, would you really want to serve God with them? Check any state restrictions or requirements regarding performing any ceremonies. Check the costs too… I mean the financial ones. Sometimes there are annual dues or renewal fees. Some ministries ordain for life, while others will only ordain you for a year.
- Accomplish the mission! By this, I mean complete the steps they give you to becoming an ordained minister. Every organization has different requirements for the ordination process, but most require your personal information and a number of steps, such as reading books, serving in a ministry at a church or para-church organization for a time. If you got to step 7, you’ll know what these are.
- Thank God for the process! You’re now an ordained minister! Celebrate!
Ordained Minister Seeks Disciples
Isn’t our job as pastors, church leaders, ordained ministers to help people follow Jesus Christ? That’s a simple way to say what Jesus Himself passionately left His disciples with before He departed Earth:
We at Church Leaders Campfire are looking for disciples. We want to share in your ministry journey with you and want to serve Jesus alongside you in some way. DON’T DO THIS ALONE! If you desire to become an ordained minister, then we highly recommend you pick up a copy of Plan to Produce Fruit: Your Guide to Resilient and Healthy Ministry. We want you to succeed in obedience to God’s call on your life. If you want this title, it will be available Friday, January 16, 2015!