Becoming a Christian Minister
Christian ministers work in many religious denominations to provide spiritual guidance to the church community. Some of their duties include administering religious ordinances, leading religious services and providing counseling services. Christian ministers need the fortitude to help members of their faith as they weather crises. They may be on-call for emergencies.
Outstanding verbal and written communication skills are essential. While some of the tasks they complete are done solo, Christian ministers also need to be prepared and able to work with others on a team to meet a common goal.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, iSeek Education and the Wesleyan Church, there are a number of requirements for this career. A bachelor's degree in divinity is the minimum requirement. Employers often prefer master's degree from a divinity school. Licensure or certification varies by denomination and church. Some churches require licensure to complete the ordination process. Experience levels can be entry-level, though previous activity and experience in the religious community is helpful. Key skills for a Christian minister include listening, leadership and counseling skills. In May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the mean annual wage for all clergy was $48,150.
Step 1: Choose a Denomination
The first step towards becoming a Christian minister is to choose a denomination. Aspiring Christian ministers have many denominations from which to choose, and the process of becoming a minister can vary depending on the rules for a particular denomination. Prospective ministers may consider choosing the denomination that most closely identifies with their beliefs. Some well-known Christian factions include Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox. Some churches recognize themselves as being nondenominational or independent.
Here's a success tip: volunteer in the community. Ministers are community leaders and need to be familiar with the people they will serve. Participating in religious events can help aspiring ministers meet and make friends with the public while demonstrating a commitment to the church.
Step 2: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
The second step towards becoming a Christian minister is to earn a bachelor's degree. Regardless of the denomination, Christian ministers need to possess knowledge of doctrine and holy texts in order to instruct members of a church. In religious educational programs, students study ancient culture, Biblical interpretation, the philosophy of religion and the role of the church. Some possible majors for a bachelor's degree program include theology, religious studies and religious education.
Step 3: Divinity School
The third step towards becoming a Christian minister is to graduate from divinity school. Most Christian ministers need to hold master's degrees for churches to consider employing them. Divinity schools, also called seminaries or theological colleges, offer master's degrees in divinity. These programs prepare students to fulfill leadership roles in churches and communities. Along with courses in Christian ethics, liturgy and systematic theology, curricula allow students to specialize their training with different electives and gain hands-on training through internships or field experience. These programs typically take three years to complete.
Step 4: Ordination Process
The fourth step towards becoming a Christian minister is to complete the ordination process. Ordination grants religious authority to individuals. Each denomination has specific requirements for the ordination process. Some aspiring ministers are required to complete district-licensing courses. Other possible requirements include interviews with church committees and oral and written examinations. Candidates may need to be members of their churches for a set period of time and volunteer their services. Prospective Christian ministers may also work under the guidance of an ordained minister until they gain enough experience and are able to complete the process of ordination.
Here's a success tip: continue your education. Denominations may specify professional development requirements and other expectations that ordained ministers need to meet on a continuous basis. Some ministry boards provide continuing education programs for ministers, and such programs are also available through national ministry organizations.
The steps towards becoming a Christian minister include choosing a denomination, earning a bachelor's degree, graduating from divinity school and completing the ordination process.