How to Become an Ordained Clergy


Becoming an ordained minister or clergy is easy to do in our modern day world. There are many programs that are offered online. Some offer training programs but many ask only that you fill out an application and offer a small fee and others do it for free. The choice is up to you and depends entirely upon how much training you desire to have.

Things You'll Need

  • Legal name
  • Phone number
  • Legal address
  • IRS Publication 517
  • IRS Form 4361
  • State registration form
  • Decide which denomination you wish to become ordained in. There are Christian
    and non-denominational based programs. Go online and locate the church or religious order that you wish to align with. Many may have a simple application that you need to fill out and send in and others may require more study and training. Those programs which involve more study and provide you with course materials will require a bigger investment of your time and money.

  • Fill out the application and/or membership form with your legal name, legal address of residence, date of birth and contact phone number. Make sure all the information is correct as it will not be considered legal if it is not.

  • Submit your application and any applicable fees to the organization you have chosen. If you have chosen a more in-depth training program you will receive the course materials and assignments to do. You will be able to do the course work at your own pace. After you have finished your course work and have completed your program you will be given a certificate of ordination. If you choose the simpler way of being ordained, you will receive your certificate of ordination right away by email or regular mail. In both cases the organization will keep a record of your ordination that is legal proof of your status. Your certificate is a receipt and the only other proof of your legal status as an ordained member of the clergy.

  • Call your local courthouse and speak with the County Clerk's office. Ask if there is anything else you need to do in order to legally perform a wedding or any other religious ceremony in your state. Every state is different and there may be strict time lines for submitting a copy of the marriage license. If this is not done within the time frame required by the state the marriage could be null and void.

  • Go to the IRS website and download Publication 517, Social Security and Other Information for Members of the Clergy and Religious Workers. Read over all the material carefully so that you understand the IRS's requirements for filing for clergy. If you have any questions call the IRS.

  • Download the latest version of IRS Form 4361, Application for Exemption from Self-Employment Tax for Use by Ministers, Members of Religious Orders and Christian Science Practitioners. Become familiar with this document. You won't have to file right away but when you do you will be more familiar with it. As these forms do change yearly be sure to get the most recent form before you file your income taxes.

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