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Becoming a licensed minister requires a commitment. That commitment is usually a calling to a particular religious faith or denomination. The process of becoming a minister in many denominations usually requires a combination of both education and experience. In the state of Texas, numerous opportunities exist for those called to the ministry to obtain the proper education, training and credentials needed to be legally recognized by the state to perform actions generally reserved for clergymen.
Consult with a minister in the denomination that you plan on serving in as a minister. If you want to be licensed as a minister in the state of Texas, you must do so through the church denomination in which you will serve in a ministerial capacity. This means that you will need to follow that denomination's blueprint for becoming a minister. Each denomination has its own set of requirements in terms of education and practical training. A minister already serving in your denomination in Texas will be able to get you moving in the right direction.
Obtain the proper level of education as required by your denomination. This will differ from one denomination to the next. A bachelor's degree is usually needed in less formal or liturgical churches such as the Pentecostal church, though sometimes no formal education is needed in these churches. Many churches require a Master of Divinity degree, which is generally considered the standard professional ministry degree in denominations such as the Methodist and Presbyterian church. Baptist churches, which are largely prevalent throughout Texas, will vary in what they require because church polity differs from one congregation to the next. Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary and Dallas Theological Seminary in the Dallas-Fort Worth area both provide ministerial training at the master's degree level.
Apply for entry-level positions as an assistant or associate pastor with a church in your local Texas community or in a community in which you would like to work. Gaining some practical experience under the tutelage of another qualified pastor can provide you with invaluable training. Your other option is to take a position with a small church as the pastor and learn as you go. Some small churches are willing to take on pastors fresh out of college or seminary if they feel that the candidate is a good fit for their congregation.
Obtain your ordination and licensing through the church for which you work. In Texas, no licensing is needed from a state or local agency. Instead, Texas recognizes the credentials provided to a minister as valid if they are provided by a Texas church. The ability to officiate weddings and funerals depends upon gaining this ordination and license from your church. In Texas, anyone officiating weddings with an expired license is guilty of a misdemeanor.
Apply for positions as a senior pastor after you have gained some experience. This only applies if you've decided to move on to bigger and better endeavors. Staying on as an associate pastor or serving as the pastor in a smaller church where you begin your career is also an option.
Jared Lewis is a professor of history, philosophy and the humanities. He has taught various courses in these fields since 2001. A former licensed financial adviser, he now works as a writer and has published numerous articles on education and business. He holds a bachelor's degree in history, a master's degree in theology and has completed doctoral work in American history.