How to Be an Ordained Minister

Three Methods:Taking the Traditional Path to OrdinationGetting Ordained OnlineUsing your Ordained Minister License

Do you feel called to become an ordained minister? Whether you want to become a minister for religious reasons or because you've been asked to officiate a friend's wedding, ordination is a meaningful undertaking that allows you to play a special role in your community. Learn how to become ordained the traditional way or through an online organization.

Method 1
Taking the Traditional Path to Ordination

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    Have a calling. Traditionally, ordained Christian ministers have felt a strong pull to become spiritual leaders. They are members of a particular Christian sect or church and believe that they are meant to serve their communities in the name of god. Services performed by ordained Christian ministers include:
    • Performing baptisms.
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    • Officiating weddings and funerals.
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    • Providing spiritual counseling.
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    • Working as chaplains.
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    • Working as missionaries.
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    • Founding new churches.
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    Have a college degree. Traditionally-ordained ministers obtain their licenses through bible or seminary schools, which are effectively graduate programs. Like most graduate programs, entrance into theological programs requires a college degree.
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    Apply to bible school or seminary. Depending on the program, candidates will take courses in theology, philosophy, and other courses meant to provide preparation for a life devoted to religious service. A Master of Divinity degree is awarded at the end of the program.
    • Becoming ordained as a minister through school was the most common path before online ordination became possible.
    • Receiving ordination through school can take several years, and it can be quite expensive. In some cases, a church or religious community will sponsor a member who feels called to ministry.
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    Receive your ordained minister license. At the completion of the theological program, an ordained minister license will be granted. This grants you the legal ability to perform marriage ceremonies and other services that fall into the domain of ordained ministers.
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    Become a minister at a particular church. Churches perform their own ordination ceremonies after an application process has been completed. In most cases candidates will be expected to attend additional classes and undergo a presentation and interview process before ordination is granted by church officials.
    • Ordination with a particular church typically means that the church will employ you for your services.
    • In addition to conducting religious ceremonies, ministers affiliated with churches usually actively serve their communities by visiting the sick, holding educational programs, leading church trips and so on.

Method 2
Getting Ordained Online

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    Have a purpose. People of all religions and levels of education are legally allowed to become ordained ministers. Most people pursue online ordination with a specific purpose in mind, such as an invitation to officiate a friend's wedding or preside over a funeral.
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    Find an organization that provides online ordination. There are hundreds of organizations to choose from, some religious, some not.
    • The Universal Life Church, founded in the fifties, is one of the oldest and most popular sources of online ordained minister licenses.
    • The Celebrant Foundation and Institute is a nonreligious organization has potential ministers take online classes on how to create a personal, meaningful wedding ceremony before they are granted ordained minister licenses.
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    Apply for ordination. Most online ordination applications are short and simple, and they're usually free. Expect to submit the following information:
    • Your name, address, and email address.
    • An optional reason for pursuing ordination.
    • In some cases you may mail a written request for ordination to the address provided.
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    Wait for your ordination application to be approved. Your application will be reviewed by the organization, and you will receive an email if it is approved.
    • Some organizations will send you an ordination certificate and handbook.
    • Some organizations offer special packages with additional certificates and accessories.

Method 3
Using your Ordained Minister License

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    Know your state laws. In some states, ordained ministers are required to file a copy of their credentials with the state, submit letters of approval or fulfill other requirements.
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    Perform ceremonies. Whether you're officiating a wedding or performing a funeral, make sure you know exactly what your role in the process should be, both legally and in your role as a spiritual or celebratory guide. If you don't sign the marriage certificate or fulfill other legal requirements, the marriage may be void.

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Categories: Faith and Belief | Careers in Christianity