The process to become a female pastor varies depending on the denomination of Christianity, and there may be multiple options for becoming a pastor within the same denomination. In the United States, there are more than 200 denominations of Christianity in operation; many of these are well-known groups such as the Catholic Church or the United Methodist Church, but some are small organizations like the Unity School of Christianity or the Social Brethren.
The specific steps to become a pastor might change depending on which denomination you hail from, but there are three main steps that you can typically expect:
- Receiving a call to become part of the clergy
- Acquiring an education in order to learn the profession
- Becoming ordained by your chosen church
Apart from those primary steps, you may be asked to gain valuable life experience as well as a need to attend church meetings and services. Some denominations may also ask that you embark on fieldwork or missions before you can become ordained.
Discerning the calling
When you want to become a pastor, you need to discern a call to the ministry; some churches may refer to this process differently. Each organization has a different system in place in which to offer support and spiritual guidance to those who feel they may have received a call to become a pastor.
It is expected that you pray on it when you first feel interested in becoming a pastor. Once you have done that, you need to make an appointment to speak to your pastor or the spiritual leader of your community; the spiritual leader or pastor will help you discern the calling.
Some congregations only ordain men as pastors. If you are a member of a church that does not ordain women and you do not want to change churches, you may still be able to find rewarding work for your calling within other areas of the church.
Becoming a pastor
Recognizing the characteristics that make a good Christian leader is the most crucial step in becoming a pastor and developing into a competent and compelling leader. Many future pastors experience discernment early in life but don’t develop the necessary life experience or characteristics until much later as they become adults.
The characteristics and skills you need may vary depending on the denomination. Still, it is generally accepted that the most important characteristics are having a deep level of faith and spirituality that transcends the traditions of the church.
An empathic personality is also essential in becoming a good pastor. Communication is a vital skill for a pastor as you will be responsible for writing compelling and relatable sermons for your church.
You will often need to act as a conduit for your congregation’s faith by delivering comprehensible tenets of the Bible for the average church patron. Acting as a teacher of the Bible and sharing the meaning of God’s words will become a part of your day-to-day life, and you must have the drive to share your faith with the congregation inside and outside of the church’s services.
It is essential for a pastor to understand how to grow their congregation. If you’re unsure how you can do this, it is best to start small and use these church growth tips to expand your community.
As will all the steps in becoming a pastor, the educational requirements vary depending on the denomination. However, all future pastors can benefit from training and having a college education to become successful pastors. Become involved in all your church’s activities and attend any Bible education sessions they may offer.
Engaging in Bible classes before you begin a degree is a great advantage, but you could also benefit from having one-on-one sessions with your church leader. Some denominations require that pastors be approved by the congregation before they can be ordained. So, becoming an active member before you attend college can help you connect on a personal level with the other members of the church.
If you need help with your English grammar, spelling, writing, or reading, then taking some online classes before you begin your degree will help you achieve the goals you desire. You may need to make adequate preparations to be accepted onto a degree program for pastors, as many begin at the graduate level. Some require you to enroll in a bachelor’s degree program, as many church leadership positions expect a Master of Divinity.
Becoming ordained as a female pastor
Becoming ordained is not automatic when you complete a degree or course in most church denominations. Some organizations will provide ordinations that are recognized by the U.S. government without training is necessary. Other churches, however, have a panel that screens and recommend potential pastor candidates for ordination.
To administer the sacraments or perform weddings, you usually need to be ordained. Although in some church denominations, interns or those preparing to be ordained are allowed to teach, preach, and lead other activities within the church.
Duties outside the Church
Your role as a female pastor often extends outside of church services that you may offer each week. Many church denominations require pastors to make home visits to those in the congregation that are unable to attend services, typically due to age or medical issues. You will also be expected to conduct funerals for the recently deceased and perform marriages.
As a pastor, you may also need to act as a teacher in a seminary to provide instruction for future members of the clergy, and you may also teach the children of your congregation in Sunday school each week. On occasion, a pastor might work jobs outside of the church if they wish to earn an extra income; this is especially prevalent within smaller churches or Christian denominations with only a few members and that do not have the finances available to pay a pastor a salary.
Finally, you might also ‘church plant’ for your denomination; church planting is when you create a new church for the local region where there isn’t already a church presence. When church planting, you may be involved in building a new worship center or developing a new congregation.