Do You Need Formal Training to be a Minister?

Throughout history brave men and women entered the ministry with nothing more than a desire to spread the Gospel. While it’s not necessary to have formal training before becoming a pastor or minister, obtaining some type of degree or certificate is a good idea. Below is a basic outline to help you decide if official ministerial training is right for you.

Do you have a mentor?

  • While formal training is recommended, finding a pastor, minister or church leader to mentor you is the most effective way to learn.
  • Timothy was mentored by and served Paul (Acts 16:1-4).
  • If you have been faithful in another person’s ministry, God may give you your own (Luke 16:12).

Do you belong to a denomination?

  • You must have a spiritual covering. Find a denomination, church or fellowship you are familiar with.
  • You don’t have to be controlled by a formal group to start a church, but you do need someone to hold you accountable.
  • Find an organization that is able to license and/or ordain you.
  • Only affiliate with organizations whose beliefs line up with yours.

Do you need formal training?

  • Pray. Ask God if you should seek formal training or start your ministry or church without it.
  • Being in the ministry is a calling not a job. If you don’t feel God has called you, don’t do it.
  • Are you confident in your abilities? If you have little experience in your area of ministry you need some type of on-the-job or formal training.
  • How much does it cost? Look for free courses and scholarship opportunities. The most expensive is not always the best.
  • If you decide you need formal training, find reputable sources. The wrong degree can hurt more than help.
  • Protect your reputation. Avoid “credential mills” willing to give you a license or ordination for a “pay now” fee.
  • Whether a pastor, worship leader or evangelist, be faithful to your local church. Serving others is the best way to learn how to become a good minister (Luke 16:12).

Being in the ministry can be a joyous thing but it’s also very challenging. If you’re not called, no amount of training will minimize the conflict, grief and trouble coming your way. Make sure you’re called!