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How to Become an Independent Ordained Christian Minister

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Christian ministers serve their congregations as either paid or unpaid leaders, in a variety of roles including preaching, counseling, leading staff members and volunteers, participating in church life and interacting with other churches. Nondenominational churches usually ordain independent ministers. Depending on the denomination, some churches still run independently of the denomination and may choose their own pastors. The steps outlined below refer only to the Methodist denomination and will not all apply to ordination through other congregations.

Question and explore a call to ministry by contacting the local pastor. Talk to him about the church, responsibilities, doctrine and address relevant questions at this time. See if you can shadow him for a day or volunteer to help him in the office.

Write to the district superintendent to request admission to the program and a mentor to start the candidacy process. Candidates must adhere to the doctrine of the church and be a member, in some cases for one year. According to the Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, the applicant must pay a $75 fee and study a candidacy manual. The mentor will assist her as she pursues God's call on her life.

Declare your intent to your local pastor and seek his recommendation. After the applicant is interviewed, the pastor and committee will submit their findings to the board, who must approve the candidate.

Interview with and be approved by the committee. Submit the following to the committee: a written summary of God's call and his beliefs, credit and background check, psychological test, any information regarding prior convictions and other information as required.

Apply for license as a local pastor, after completing the required education, up to a Master of Divinity degree from an approved school of theology. The candidate must complete the following classes: Old and New Testament, United Methodist doctrine, worship, theology, mission, evangelism and church history. Complete licensing studies as required.


Some of the listed steps may not be necessary, depending on the church or denomination. The above steps represent a more elaborate case scenario. Some congregations, especially smaller ones, may just vote on a minister, elect him, and require no additional education or qualifications. In addition, according to the website World Christianship Ministries (WCM), people can become ministers online with no formal training but by merely paying a fee of $32 to WCM.


A church minister, as many of the helping professions, can suffer burn-out due to the stress and demands of the position. Taking breaks and vacations, turning off the cell phone and learning to set boundaries help prevent burn-out.