We asked one of our ministers about why he became ordained online and what an ordination from an online ministry like ours means to him. He wrote the following essay in response.
It’s not easy to become a pastor
Have you ever Googled “how do I become a pastor,” “online ordination,” or “pastor training?” If so, you have jumped the gun by forgetting to first ask yourself, “Why do I want to enter a ministry and become a pastor in the first place?” After all, being a minister is not a glamorous job. It certainly does not come with glitz and glamour, nor a corner office and stock options. Being a pastor is largely a thankless line of work and requires a calling; it demands devotion, hard work, and relentless passion.
So, when asked about my advice on the subject, I always say that you should not consider becoming a pastor unless you can’t imagine yourself being anything else. If you can imagine yourself taking another job and enjoying it more, you simply won’t have the relentless passion it takes to become a pastor.
Do you think you have what it takes to be a pastor? Read on if you believe that the answer is yes!
Steps to becoming a pastor
Called of God
First, you’ll need to be called of God, Allah, Ganesh, or any of the world’s other deities in order to be a pastor. This calling often comes at the most unexpected times. For me, I had always believed in the gospel and possessed a deep love of Jesus Christ, but wasn’t sure what to do with my love of the Christian religion.
This all changed when I listened to a pastor speak during my sister’s graduation ceremony. His talk about the grace of God and his plans for all the graduates assembled at the ceremony impressed me; I suddenly felt the urge to be a preacher of the gospel. It was clear that God was calling me to channel my love of the gospel and Christian teachings and become a pastor.
Training to become a pastor was quite the experience, one that helped me mature by leaps and bounds. There were many difficult times, and I occasionally felt like throwing in the towel. What carried me over all the obstacles I found in my path was the knowledge that God had called me into his service and that I was unable to imagine doing anything other than serving him.
So how do you know when you’re being called by God? Your calling will manifest itself in several ways. First, you’ll feel a vivid, unwavering sense that God wants you to be a pastor. This feeling won’t fade or dissipate with time and will not be challenged by small obstacles. Another form of proof is the passion and craving you have for the word of God; you will constantly desire to study scripture and share your insights on it as much as possible. The final bit of proof that you have been called by God will be the love you feel for all people, Christians and non-Christians alike. There’s a difference between a passion for preaching the word of God and a passion for helping people, but they tend to go hand and hand for every person who wants to become a pastor.
Internal signs won’t be the only indicators telling you to become a pastor. External influences, like your friends and family, can reveal your pastoral potential. Heed the words of people who tell you that you could be a great preacher or vocalize their respect and admiration for your good character. Likewise, your own preacher may notice and compliment you on your God-given gifts. You might even consider talking with your pastor about your plan to become a minister and ask for their opinion on the matter. Finally, if you have a spouse, it is likely that the most important deciding factor on whether or not you should try to become a minister is their acceptance and/or support of your calling. You will need to have your spouse’s input on your decision making if you want to be a successful minister!
Pastor Training and Ordination
Like most religious leaders, you will need to study at a theological college, seminary, or bible school if you want to become a pastor. Most conventional religious schooling takes four years and costs tens of thousands of dollars in tuition alone.
You will also need to become ordained. This can be achieved by serving as a junior pastor at a local church or by working with a religious scholar of the denomination you studied with.
I approached the Universal Life Church in order to receive their free online ordination. Over 20 million ministers have become ordained online through the Universal Life Church. Their ordination process is simple; it merely requires laypeople to fill out a form on their website with their full legal name, email address, and mailing address in order to get ordained. A confirmation email detailing how I can use my ordination was sent to me within seconds after I submitted this form. The whole process was free and surprisingly quick; I performed a wedding ceremony for a lovely young couple only a few weeks after I became ordained with the ULC!
Being Called to a Congregation
The final step in every pastor’s journey is becoming the leader of a congregation. Not all pastors do this; only a small fraction of ULC ministers have their own congregations, for example. While you may be drawn to a particular congregation, it is up to the congregation – not the pastor – to select their leader.
At the beginning of this final step, you will submit a resume to the churches where you would like to be a pastor. If a congregation is interested in you, they will likely send you a questionnaire to get more detailed information about you or ask you to come in for a face-to-face interview. If you continue to impress, the congregation may invite you to preach from their pulpit and/or ask you to attend a question and answer session with them.
As with every job opening, others will inevitably seek the same position; it is thus vital that you bring your best performance to every interview, trial sermon, and service you participate in during your job hunt.
The road to becoming a pastor is long, but it is paved with tremendous spiritual reward. Many are called, but few will actually serve. Those who aren’t fully committed or truly called by God will eventually choose to do other things in life. Those who cling to their Christian faith and truly want to become a pastor will inevitably succeed in their mission.
Thanks for reading, and best of luck!