How Do I Become a Pastor?

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  • Written By: Daphne Mallory
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Images By: Ryan Basilio, James Steidl, Michael Flippo, Lisa F. Young, Photographmd
  • Last Modified Date: 24 February 2020
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The method to become a pastor depends partly on the denomination of church to which a person belongs. Someone who wants to become a pastor will often attend a private seminary to receive a four-year degree in church doctrine, preaching, or other subjects. Churches usually expect a pastor to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. A pastor is also able to obtain a master’s or doctoral degree in a subject related to theology, but this is usually not required. More traditional denominations will simply elect a man from the congregation to be their pastor based on the recommendations found in the Bible. If the person accepts the duty, he often becomes responsible for serving as the church pastor, but whether he attends a seminary for a degree is not an issue.

Seminaries offer college-level coursework that will allow a person to become a pastor. Different church denominations often have their own seminaries, which teach their individual version of Christian doctrine. The student usually learns theology, counseling, and sermon preparation. Seminaries are often accredited by the government in order to give out diplomas. Some seminaries choose not to seek accreditation, on the belief that governments should not have authority over works carried out for their religion.


Upon the completion of a bachelor’s or master’s degree from the seminary, a person can become a pastor. Seminaries often have church placement programs, which will help the new pastor find a church in which to serve. Once a pastor arrives at the new church and gets settled in, there will usually be a ceremony to allow him to become an ordained leader, or pastor, of the church. If a denomination has too many pastors for churches, the graduate can sometimes choose to serve as a missionary to a new community or even a new country. That person can then start a church from the ground up in the new location.

Some traditional denominations choose to follow the direction of 1 Timothy 3:1-7 to ordain a minister. Using the guidelines from that passage, the elders of the church will select a member to become a pastor. The guidelines include that the man must be married and must have children, that he shouldn’t be greedy, and should have a hospitable character. Once the man accepts the responsibility, he’ll often be ordained by the church. He then becomes responsible for preaching and ministering to the church. Even though it’s often not required in these denominations for the pastor to attend seminary, he will usually still choose to do so for the additional training.


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