How to Become an Ordained Minister Online
Introduction / Overview
Believe it or not, becoming ordained online can be as easy as simply signing up for an account on a website, and paying a small enrollment or registration fee. There are sometimes additional fee’s (optional) for additional products or services the site offers.
Ordination is a process whereby individuals are “set apart as clergy” to perform certain religious ceremonies (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ordination).
When someone is Ordained, it means they have been granted with ministerial or priestly authority (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ordain).
Once you become an ordained minister, you can then officiate for wedding ceremonies, funerals, baptisms and certain other religious ceremonies.
Having said that, while the majority of States do recognize online ordination, unfortunately, there are some that do not.
You will want to ensure to check the laws where you live before performing a specific ceremony to ensure it is legal (We provide more information on this including where to check in your area to see which ceremonies it is legal for you to perform, and what the requirements are to perform them. In some areas, a special license and small fee are required).
STEP NUMBER ONE – #1
CONDUCT ORDINATION RESEARCH
The first step in your journey to becoming ordained online is to conduct a little research to ensure you can legally become a minister in the area you want to practice, and for the types of ceremonies, you want to conduct. In most cases that will Be A County within A-State.
The reason this step is so important is the fact if you intend to perform things like wedding ceremonies, you want to make sure that wedding is legally recognized. There are some states that recognize online ordination as legally binding, whereas there are some states that will only consider you to be an official minister if you actually have a congregation.
You will need to lookup your State laws & county laws to find out what your state requires. The best way to do this is to contact your local County Clerk and have them explain the legal requirements in your State & County, and have them provide you with the necessary registration forms and explain any required fees.
Will Online Ordination affect your religious standing?
If you are already a member of an existing church, there is a chance that getting ordained online could affect your religious standing within that church.
The 2 churches that frown on becoming a minister in another religion are the Holy Catholic Church and the Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS). The term they use for this is “Apostasy”, and believe it or not it is grounds for excommunication.
You will want to conduct some research online, as well as your local clergy for advice on this matter.
Consider Online Ordination Seriously
Online ordination is a serious matter and should not be taken lightly. You will want to think long and hard about becoming an ordained Minister and the implications that go along with that. You are making a serious commitment.
Although online ordination is considered by some to be a “lesser” form of ordination, the commitment you are making is the same regardless the method. If you feel you’ve truly been called to become a pastor, you want to consider all of your options for ordination, including the more traditional route of attending a Bible College or Religious University.
If you do attend Bible College or Seminary school, it will require a substantial investment of time & money. If your calling is to become a Pastor in a traditional church, then this is probably the recommended way to go. If on the other hand, you are more interested in performing religious ceremonies then online ordination is probably the preferred method.
If you are interested in opening your own church, you will want to give this serious thought as well. Although online ordination will provide you the legal right to do so, it will not provide you with the necessary religious education & training you will need.
Spend adequate time to allow you to do a complete search of the various online options available to you to become ordained.
Study the pro’s and cons of each option to determine which one best suits your particular needs
STEP NUMBER TWO – #2
Once you have found an organization that best suits your needs and your personal beliefs, use the website’s resources and training to the fullest. On some sites, it’s simply a matter of filling out an online form and paying the websites fee.
They will then send you your paperwork, or in some cases, it can be immediately be downloaded from their site for you to print yourself. Some sites may require you to go through some brief training on some concepts and provide training on how to perform religious ceremonies like weddings.
You’ll notice that some sites are quite religious, while some remain neutral or refer to themselves as “nondenominational”.
We recommend a service that provides you a printed copy of your religious credentials with some type of official Signature and seal. Ask also if they can provide you with what is known as “A Letter of Good Standing”, and some type of identification you can carry in your wallet such as a “Wallet ID Card”.
Most of the “Free” Ordination options will require you to print your own documents. They will then offer an option to “upgrade”
to a paid option that will print & mail hard copies of your documents to you. If you can afford the more formal printed documents with official seal it is recommended. Just be careful to read what you are paying for. Some sites only charge a nominal fee, while some others try to talk you into buying some overpriced packages that include services you don’t necessarily need.
Before you proceed with the ordination or pay a site any fee’s, be sure to contact the site via email or phone (If they provide a phone number) with any questions or concerns you might have and to ask them any questions about the process. Double check to ensure that the ordination option you choose will be adequate to perform the religious ceremonies you are interested in performing. You can also ask them if they can provide you with the laws for your particular State & County as far as acting as a minister and performing religious ceremonies. Chances are they will do so.
ONLINE ORDINATION SITES YOU MAY WANT TO AVOID:
While we are not going to list the names of any particular site, some signs that are definite “red flags” of online ordination sites to avoid would be:
– If the site you are considering does not prominently list their content information on their site.
– If when inquiring with the site they fail to respond or are extremely slow to respond.
– Sites that charge exorbitant fees.
– Sites that try to “Hard Sell” you on additional services you do not need or want.
Remember that it is ultimately your responsibility to determine the ordination a site provides you will allow you to perform weddings or other religious ceremonies in your State & County. That is why you must speak with the county clerk where the wedding is to be performed to ensure you meet all of their criteria. You also want to ask the clerk if there are any annual renewal fee’s that need to be paid.
Which reminds us you will also want to ask the website if their ordination is for life or whether it is only valid for one year. If it is only valid for one year, you will want to find out what the annual renewal fee is.
STEP NUMBER THREE – #3
COMPLETE THE ONLINE PERSONAL INFORMATION FORM AND PAY YOUR FEE
All websites will require you to fill out a short form with your personal contact information. At a minimum, they will ask for Name, Address, City, State Zip, Phone number and email address.
You will also be required to pay their fee(s). Most sites will allow you to pay online with a credit or debit card or PayPal. Some may allow you to mail in your payment with a check or money order.
STEP NUMBER FOUR – #4
RECEIVING YOUR OFFICIAL ORDINATION PAPERWORK
The processing of your official ordination paperwork typically takes from 1 to 2 weeks after you have paid for the services and submitted your personal information.
Double check all of the documents you receive to ensure there are no mistakes and you have received everything you ordered. Once you are sure you have everything, go ahead and contact your county clerk and submit any local paperwork required, and pay any fee’s the county requires.
Congratulations! You are now an ordained minister, and You should now be ready to perform weddings and other religious ceremonies.