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How to Become an Assembly of God Pastor
With more than 12,000 locations across the United States, the Assembly of God church is a great choice for those who are interested in leading a faith. Before you can meet the minimum requirements to be a pastor in any denomination, though, you’ll need to be a practicing member of a church in that denomination for a reasonable period of time. To become an Assembly of God pastor, you’ll need to satisfy the education requirements, then successfully interview with the leadership committee in your district.
Assembly of God Ministers Jobs
You may think of a pastor as the person who gives the sermon on Sunday morning, but they actually oversee all the functions of the church. Assembly of God ministers serve as leaders for their congregation, running the church as though it were a business. This includes planning and delivering sermons, but it also means managing human resources functions and ensuring the church can pay its bills.
In larger churches, there may be more than one minister, with one appointed as senior pastor. There may also be ministers assigned to specific areas, such as music or youth. The entire leadership team of a church must be prepared to work unusual hours, with nights and weekends often busier than weekdays.
Assembly of God Credential Levels
There are three levels of credentials for Assembly of God ministers, each with its own privileges and qualifications. They are:
- Certificate of Ministry – This level is for those who plan to only perform part-time ministry. Certification requires fewer classes than licensed status, but you can get certified and continue to pursue your license while you work.
- License – This is for early-level Assembly of God ministers who can demonstrate they meet the minimum qualifications for a career as a church leader. Some pastors will remain at this level, while others will seek the next phase of credentialing.
- Ordination – Ordained ministers are typically full-time pastors who have some experience leading Assembly of God congregations. You will need additional coursework to qualify for ordination, including a class on church administration, finance and law, plus an advanced ministerial internship.
Assembly of God Degree Requirements
To meet the requirements to be a pastor in an Assembly of God church, you’ll need to be able to demonstrate that you have the necessary education and background. However, as with many religious leadership types of occupations, you’ll likely find your district prioritizes a degree from a denominational institution of higher learning over a degree from a state college or other private universities. If you’re considering pursuing an education for a future career in an Assembly of God church, a four-year degree from an Assembly of God college or university will be the best option.
For those not interested in pursuing a full degree from one of these schools, though, you can get the courses you need in other ways. Go through your local Assembly of God church to find a postsecondary school that is approved by the district credentials committee. You may even be able to complete coursework online. Discounts on tuition are also available for those who qualify.
Certification for Assembly of God Ministers
In addition to the specific coursework necessary to be considered, Assembly of God ministers must also pass an exam that demonstrates biblical knowledge. If you have a degree that isn’t specific to the Assembly of God church, you’ll need at least 24 additional units in Bible and Theology to qualify to become an ordained Assembly of God minister.
Once you have your education requirements in check, you’ll go in front of the Sectional Leadership Committee to discuss your credentials. In addition to satisfactorily answering questions and demonstrating your suitability for the job, you’ll also be required to pass a background check before your application can be approved.
Faith-Based Restrictions on Employment
One thing setting religious occupations apart from other fields is that your personal life comes into play. If you have a divorce in your past, you’ll need to look into the requirements to be a pastor in an Assembly of God church in your district before pursuing any coursework. Generally speaking, if you are divorced and your spouse is still living, you’ll be prohibited from being credentialed as an Assembly of God pastor.
There are exceptions to the divorce prohibition, though. You may qualify for an ecclesiastical annulment if the reason for your divorce has to do with scriptural issues. For instance, if your spouse cheated or the divorce happened before your conversion to the faith, annulment may be an option.
Assembly of God Pastor Calling
Religious organizations believe that church leadership is a calling, not a choice. This means you must have felt compelled to pursue a career as a pastor by God. To be considered for a leadership role, you’ll need to be able to provide some type of proof that you were called to this occupation.
Proof of salvation often comes from other ministers. You’ve presumably been a member of an Assembly of God church for a while, which means you should have a pastor who can serve as a reference for your journey. You’ll also need to have been baptized, as well as having experienced the initial speaking in other tongues that is an important milestone in any Pentecostal journey.
Protestant Pastor Job Outlook
If you’re looking for a career with rapid job growth, the life of a minister may not be for you. Declining church attendance has led to a reduction in the demand for pastors across all Protestant faiths. This means some pastors find themselves having to work multiple jobs to supplement the part-time work they end up getting in a church.
Like other organized religions, Assembly of God pastors’ salaries rely on contributions from church attendees. Religious giving has dropped 50 percent over the past two decades, leaving churches to scramble to try to pay employees. Churches are not only dealing with a reduction in church attendance, but also a drop in giving.
Assembly of God Pastors’ Salaries
Overall, pastor salaries average just under $50,000 a year, with entry-level salaries starting at $40,000 a year. However, some ministers may begin as associate pastors in larger churches, which can start as low as $31,000. The pay for any pastor can vary dramatically depending on the location of the church and the size of the congregation.
Average Assembly of God pastors’ salaries are lower than overall pastor salaries, with senior pastors making between $21,000 and $85,000. This averages out to $48,980. Presbyterian pastors report the highest salaries, at an average of $74,000 a year.
Assembly of God Minister Benefits
In addition to pay, pastors are typically provided benefits that add to their annual earnings. One is the housing allowance the IRS gives credentialed ministers. You can set aside a portion of your income for housing, as long as the church signs off on the amount you’re setting aside.
Unfortunately, many ministers find that’s where benefits end. Unless you’re with a larger church, perks like health insurance and retirement savings accounts may not be an option. Before you pursue this career, check in your local area to ensure you’ll be able to find a position that provides these benefits in addition to a living wage.
- Pushpay: Church Giving Statistics, 2019 Edition
- Northern California & Nevada Assemblies of God: Become an AG Minister
- Payscale: Average Senior Pastor Salary at Assembly of God
- Payscale: Average Pastor Salary
- Payscale: Average Associate Pastor Salary
- PBS: Diminishing Job Prospects for Protestant Pastors
- IRS.gov: Topic No. 417 Earnings for Clergy
- Arkansas Assemblies of God: Housing Allowance Request for Arkansas Assemblies of God District Affiliated Churches
- Thom S. Rainer: Ten Fascinating Facts About Pastor and Church Staff Compensation
- Aged Ministers Assistance
- Many times you have to serve as a junior or assistant pastor before becoming a senior pastor of a church.
Stephanie Faris is a novelist and business writer whose work has appeared on numerous small business blogs, including Zappos, GoDaddy, 99Designs, and the Intuit Small Business Blog. She worked for the State of Tennessee for 19 years, the latter six of which were spent as a supervisor. She has written about business for entrepreneurs and marketing firms since 2011.