There are many paths to becoming a pastor, minister, evangelist, or ministry worker. Many of the traditional ways to accomplish becoming a minister involve some sort of educational experience whether it might be a preacher training program, bible college, or a seminary. But, a number of American ministers have little or no formal bible college or seminary degree, so there are alternatives pathways to your goal. Here are several additional ways that people commonly become clergy.
Mentorship Programs with Christian Leaders
Many churches, associations, and denominations have established mentorship programs where a more experienced minister or one that has more advanced training assumes the role of mentor and the minister-in-training becomes the apprentice. This, usually elder, minister will show you the ropes through experimental learning, by accompanying him on his or her practice of ministry, and by assisting him in worship preparation.
Preacher Training Classes or Programs
Some prospective preachers attend training classes that are run by their own church or denomination. These training classes teach practical and useful skills like pulpit etiquette, basic doctrines of the church that they attend, preaching methods, how to interpret scripture, oratory and speech, how to conduct church services and special occasions like baptisms and funerals, etc.
Ministry Certificate Programs from Schools
A pre-service minister may elect to take a ministry certificate program that is conducted by a ministry school, college, or seminary. Often these ministry certificates are designed for those ministers who are transitioning from a career in the private sector to a second or continuing career in church service. These certificate provide some formal seminary education, but do not require as much course work as would a typical seminary degree or may be used later as coursework that counts toward a complete degree. The rules usually depend on the institution where the certificate is granted and well as what your church requires.
Approval Without Formal Training
Some churches do not require any specific classes or training so long as the prospective minister knows and understands the rules, doctrine, and Scriptures well enough to be approved by a committee of elders or other ministers. Those who are approved are generally asked tough questions about their beliefs, about ministry, and about the practices or traditions of the church. Once the minister satisfies the committee, then they are either commissioned, charged, licensed, or ordained according to the terminology used by the particular group.
Licensed Local Pastors
Some denominations have their own special rules for obtaining a status, lower than ordination, that allows a person to preach. It may or may not require specialized training, but most likely you will have to do some sort of studying and go before a board of ministers or a committee before you are allowed to preach in a church.
Regardless of what method that a minister uses to arrive at their goal, it is generally believed that all ministry is a calling. The most important element for a prospective pastor beyond what educational path they choose to pursue is whether they believe that they have received a Godly call to service. If you want to fulfill the commandment of the Great Commission to go out into all the world and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, then you should determine in your heart if you are willing to make the personal and familial sacrifices to answer the call of God to ministry.