The Call to Ministry: How to Become a Pastor

The Call to Ministry: How to Become a Pastor

Are you feeling called to serve as a pastor and wondering how to start on this path? Becoming a pastor is a rewarding and fulfilling journey that requires dedication, education, and a strong sense of calling. In this article, we will explore the steps you can take to pursue a career in ministry and become a successful pastor. From obtaining the necessary education and training to honing your leadership skills and finding the right opportunities for ministry, we will guide you through the process of answering the call to ministry.

Education and Training Requirements

Becoming a pastor requires a combination of education and training to prepare individuals for the responsibilities of leading a church community. Here are the key steps to fulfill the education and training requirements:

Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree

One of the first steps towards becoming a pastor is to obtain a Bachelor’s degree. While the degree does not necessarily have to be in a specific field, many aspiring pastors choose to major in theology, religious studies, or a related discipline to build a strong foundation in biblical studies and theological concepts.

Complete a Master of Divinity Program

After obtaining a Bachelor’s degree, aspiring pastors typically enroll in a Master of Divinity (M.Div) program. This graduate-level program provides in-depth training in theology, pastoral care, church history, and other essential subjects for ministry. Many seminaries and divinity schools offer M.Div programs that are specifically designed to prepare individuals for pastoral leadership.

Participate in Internships and Field Experience

Hands-on experience is crucial for aspiring pastors to develop their skills and understanding of ministry. Participating in internships and field experience opportunities allows individuals to work closely with experienced pastors, engage in pastoral duties, and gain practical insights into the daily responsibilities of leading a congregation. Many M.Div programs include internships as part of the curriculum to provide students with valuable real-world experience.

Personal Qualities and Skills

When considering a call to ministry and pursuing a career as a pastor, it is important to possess certain personal qualities and skills that will enable you to effectively carry out the responsibilities of this role.

Strong Faith and Commitment

One of the most essential qualities for becoming a pastor is having a strong faith and unwavering commitment to serving others. A pastor is not only a spiritual leader but also a role model for their congregation. It is important to have a deep-rooted faith in God and a genuine desire to help others grow in their faith as well.

Effective Communication Skills

Effective communication skills are also crucial for a pastor. Being able to clearly convey messages, preach sermons, and counsel individuals requires strong verbal and written communication abilities. A pastor must be able to connect with people from all walks of life and effectively communicate the teachings of the Bible in a way that is relatable and understandable.

Leadership Abilities

As a pastor, you will be responsible for leading a congregation and guiding them in their spiritual journey. Strong leadership abilities are essential for overseeing the church community, managing staff and volunteers, and making important decisions that will impact the direction of the church. A pastor should be able to inspire and motivate others, delegate tasks effectively, and lead by example in all areas of their life.

Licensing and Ordination Process

Becoming a pastor involves a thorough licensing and ordination process that varies depending on the denomination. Here are the general steps to follow:

Meet Denominational Requirements

Each denomination has specific requirements that individuals must meet in order to become licensed and ordained as a pastor. These requirements may include completing a theological education program, gaining practical ministry experience, and obtaining approval from a local church or governing body.

Undergo Evaluations and Examinations

Prospective pastors often undergo evaluations and examinations to assess their theological knowledge, leadership skills, and spiritual maturity. These assessments may include written exams, interviews, and evaluations by experienced pastors and church leaders.

Receive Authorization from a Governing Body

Once all requirements have been met and evaluations have been successfully completed, individuals seeking to become pastors must receive authorization from a governing body within their denomination. This governing body typically oversees the licensing and ordination process and officially approves candidates for ministry.

Continuing Education and Professional Development

Continuing education and professional development are essential for pastors to stay current with the latest trends and best practices in ministry. Here are some ways to continue your education and development as a pastor:

Attend Seminars and Workshops

Attending seminars and workshops is a great way to learn from experts in the field and gain new insights and perspectives. Look for seminars and workshops on topics such as pastoral counseling, leadership development, and church administration. These events can help you enhance your skills and knowledge, and connect with other pastors who share similar interests and challenges.

Pursue Advanced Degrees or Certifications

Earning an advanced degree or certification in theology, pastoral counseling, or a related field can help you deepen your understanding of ministry and enhance your qualifications as a pastor. Consider pursuing a Master of Divinity, Doctor of Ministry, or other advanced degrees to expand your knowledge and skills. Additionally, obtaining certifications in areas such as pastoral counseling or chaplaincy can demonstrate your expertise and commitment to ongoing professional development.

Engage in Peer Support Networks

Joining peer support networks, such as local clergy associations or online forums for pastors, can provide valuable opportunities for networking, mentorship, and collaboration. Connecting with other pastors can help you learn from their experiences, share best practices, and receive support and encouragement in your ministry. Peer support networks can also provide a sense of community and camaraderie, which is essential for pastors who often face unique challenges and responsibilities.


In conclusion, becoming a pastor is a noble calling that requires dedication, education, and a strong faith. By following the steps outlined in this article, individuals can prepare themselves for a successful career in ministry. From obtaining the necessary education and experience to seeking guidance and support from mentors and peers, aspiring pastors can take the necessary steps to answer the call to ministry. Ultimately, becoming a pastor is not just a career choice, but a lifelong commitment to serving others and spreading the word of God.