3 Common Myths About Ordination
By Raul Rivera
Here is a surprising fact: ordination is one of the most misunderstood subjects for pastors and ministry leaders. This is why one of the most common questions ministers ask is, “How do I become an ordained minister?”
Unfortunately, many ministers have bought into some “myths” concerning ordination.
For this reason, I want to take some time to address three of the most common ordination myths, and then we will discuss how you can become a legally ordained minister.
3 Myths About Ordination Ministers Believe
Myth 1: “Once ordained, always ordained.”
One of the most common myths surrounding ordination is that it never expires. This could be true, but only if the church from which you received your ordination purposefully keeps your ordination and license valid.
It is important to know that the ordaining organization has the right to revoke your ordination without your knowing. In addition, if the ordaining organization dissolves, then your ordination can become invalid.
In other words, if the church or ministry that ordained you was forced to close its doors or no longer exists, then the ordination that you received can be invalid.
You may be surprised to learn there are reasons and benefits for ordinations to have an expiration date.
a) The benefit to the ordaining church body:
Including an expiration date on one’s ordination allows the church an opportunity to ensure that ministers ordained in the church’s name continue to uphold the lifestyle and doctrines that are consistent with that of the church.
Having a “renewal process” allows the church, and minister alike, to reaffirm an ongoing relationship with one another.
The last thing any ordaining body wants is for one of the ministers it has ordained to preach messages and adhere to doctrines with which it does not agree.
b) The benefit to the ordained minister:
In the same manner that it is essential for ministers you ordain to agree with your church's doctrines and teachings, your church must show that an ongoing relationship exists between you and the ministers you ordain.
In Cramer v. Commonwealth, a case about the validity of mail-in and online ordinations from a group of ministers, the Supreme Court of Virginia determined that the relationships between the ordained ministers and the ordaining body were nearly nonexistent.
Therefore, when an ordaining church body includes expiration and renewal dates along with the ordinations and licenses it issues, the church is in some manner able to maintain a relationship with the ministers it ordains.
Myth 2: “I am ordained; I can now ordain others.”
Many ministers are under the impression that once they are ordained, they have the sole authority to ordain others. However, that is simply not true.
In fact, the courts have ruled, and the IRS has followed, that no one person has the right or power to license an individual.
The authority and power to ordain lie with the ordaining body, such as a church or ministry.
This does not mean that you cannot conduct an ordination ceremony and lay hands on a newly ordained minister.
What it does mean is that you, as a minister or an authorized individual of the ordaining church, can lay hands on a person of God and legally ordain him/her so long as it is done under the authority of the church according to its doctrines, beliefs, and bylaws.
Myth 3: “I cannot be ordained by my own church.”
At StartCHURCH, our team has spoken with hundreds of pastors and ministry leaders with a calling to start a church. We’ve learned that many of these leaders were hesitant when it came to answering the call God had placed on their life.
Many of these leaders believed that they could start a church only after they had been ordained or licensed as a minister of the gospel by another more well-established church.
That, however, is not true.
In fact, one can start a church, establish it on a solid legal foundation, and then become ordained through the very church that they started.
With our StartRIGHT Service, we will help you accomplish these tasks. If you have questions or would like to get started launching your church, click the link below or call us at 877-494-4655 to speak to a church planting specialist today.
This is good news for all churches, both large and small. However, there is one requirement that every church will need to meet.
How to become a legally ordained minister
We know that you can become ordained through the very church you start, no matter how big it is or how long it has been established. Yet, what are you supposed to do to make that happen?
In Cramer v. Commonwealth mentioned earlier, the court also noted in its ruling that the selection of a minister must be a “considered, deliberate, and responsible act."
In other words, in order to ordain ministers of the gospel, your church needs to implement an ordination program.
There are ten steps that every church should implement in its ordination program. Although we discuss each of the ten steps in depth in our video course Equipped to Ordain, I want to briefly share with you 3 of the ten steps to implement in your ordination program.
- Make sure you have the necessary ordination language in your church’s governing documents (i.e., your articles of incorporation and bylaws).
- Require an application with a fee.
- Require an exam to be taken and passed with a minimum requirement score. (We provide an exam template in our Minister’s Suite.)
The Next Step for Your Church or Ministry
Becoming ordained is a special moment in the life of every minister. To be recognized by your peers and church as one called to preach the gospel is a day that a minister will never forget.
If you have any questions or are ready to implement an ordination program, please give us a call at 877-494-4655 or click the link below to schedule a call with a church planting specialist. It would be our honor and privilege to serve you in any possible way.