A person who decides to become a minister may undergo several different processes to be ordained, depending on which religion and denomination he chooses. Ordination is the preparation people undergo in order to be a minister and perform certain religious rituals and ceremonies affiliated with the church. It sets one apart from a regular churchgoer and gives all the tools for how to be a pastor.
Traditionally, in Catholic and Anglican churches, there are three degrees of ordination: deacon, presbyter, and bishop. So, the process to become a minister is very involved, and, at the bishop level, require the blessing of the Pope.
In the Baptist tradition, ordination is very much a spirit-led process. A person who is considered spiritually gifted and who has an impressive recall and interpretation of the scriptures is called on to preach a “trial sermon” to an audience comprised mostly of the congregation in the church. When the sermon is over, a panel of judges, consisting usually of the deacons and trustees in the church, decide whether the sermon was successful or not. A successful sermon means a candidate can be ordained. The criteria varies from church to church. Other ministers in this tradition attend theological seminaries or theological colleges to learn how to be a pastor and divinity.
Learn how to get ordained online through the Universal Life Church with this quick educational video:
As you can see, it’s quick and easy to become ordained online – it only takes an internet connection and a couple of minutes to do so!
Learning how to become ordained does not necessarily mean a minister will be granted pastor duties at a physical church. Sometimes the selection process for this honor means a rigorous examination of the pastor’s record of service and personal life for moral or character issues, speaking and management skills, preaching experience, marital status, and/or spiritual gifts. Other times, a search committee may desire to have a pastor with a certain level of education or employment experience beyond his religious experience. For the average person, this might seem a bit daunting.
The Universal Life Church provides another way for the average person to learn how to become ordained. This Seattle-based organization has created a way for anyone to become a minister online. The ULC is legally-recognized in 48 states, meaning that someone who is ordained through the Universal Life Church can perform marriage ceremonies in these states. In order to become ordained, applicants must have an individual email account and complete an online form with their legal name and address. After ULC receives an applicant’s information, a confirmation e-mail is sent to their e-mail address and the ordination process is considered complete.
The ULC has no official doctrine for its ministers. The church simply believes it ministers should practice freedom of religion and “do only that which is right.” This philosophy has been interpreted as meaning the ordained ministers affiliated with the church should be able to practice their ministry without any interference from the government. Ordained Universal Life Church ministers perform wedding ceremonies, baptisms and other sacred religious rites.
Ministers looking to officiate wedding ceremonies should know that marriage laws differ from state to state, so it is always best to check out local requirements and stay aware of them. Some states, for example, require a letter of good standing, a minimum age of 18 and U.S. citizenship. Others require none of the above, but do require a signed and sealed ordination credential certificate. Once those basic criteria are met, the ordained minister is free to practice as an officiant.