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The differences between Commission, License and Ordained Minister

Distinctions between licensed and ordained ministers vary by the religious organizations that issue these credentials. In some organizations, ministerial licensing may be an initial step in the path to full ordination. Ministerial licensing can also be a way for a denomination to sanction the ministry of someone who does not meet its ordination credentials, but who is nonetheless engaged in an active ministry in a local parish.

Ordained Vs. Licensed Ministry

Some religious denominations and congregations make distinctions between different types of clergy, classifying them as ordained or licensed ministers. Each denomination sets its own policy for distinguishing between the two, but in many cases, religious organizations consider ordained ministers to be permanent clergy. Ordination permits the minister to perform church rites and sacraments, such as baptisms, legal marriages and funerals. Licensed ministers, on the other hand, are usually authorized to perform some ministerial functions, but may be required by the terms of their license to only act as clergy in the context of a local congregation. Unlike ordination, which is usually considered to be a one-time event, the credentials for licensed ministers may only be valid for a specific period of time. For tax purposes, the IRS recognizes both licensed and ordained ministers as clergy, although it may apply additional standards when determining whether a clergy person is subject to special tax rules for ministers.

Reasons for Distinction

The reasons for making distinctions between ordained and licensed ministers vary by denomination. In some denominations, seminary students or candidates for ordination must first undergo a probationary period as a licensed minister. Another reason why a denomination might license ministers is to address a lack of trained clergy in a specific geographical area. These denominations license active laypeople who lack ministerial education to serve as pastors of congregations. Finally, some denominations license ministers as a way of providing accountability and support to those who perform specific ministries in a church on either a full- or part-time basis.

Differing Levels of Authority 

Some denominations restrict the activities of a licensed minister to performing certain clergy duties, such as preaching, while not permitting him to officiate at weddings or funerals. Other denominations may allow licensed ministers to perform any rite or sacrament, but only within a local church.

Education and Training

Some religious organizations set different educational standards for licensed ministers and ordained ministers. Many Christian churches require ordained clergy to hold a Master of Divinity degree prior to ordination, but may have minimal standards for licensed ministers. Some denominations, such as the Evangelical Covenant Church in America, require licensed ministers to complete a sequence of seminary-level courses. Others, such as the United Methodist Church, sponsor educational programs specifically for licensed ministers.

But it is a known fact, no one can truly bless you as a minister, but the father above, he knows your calling, and he is the one granted you your gifts. Think about it, becoming a minister is not easy work, but when one truly begin to share the word of God, it is like driving a sports car, things begin to move fast, and if you are not careful and not following the rules of Christ, may end up crashing.

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