Become Ordained as a Presbyterian Minister

The Presbyterian church believes all members of the church are called to ministry and expected to be a living example. Some, however, are called to take on leadership roles within the church. This call to leadership contains three parts. The first part is the inner sense of calling every minister should have. The second part involves the church community testing that call to ensure its validity. The final part is the church community calling you to take on a leadership role.

Tell your church's governing body or Session that you feel you are being called to ministry. For the Session to consider your request, you must have been an active member of the church for at least six months. You must also be either married or chaste. The ordained life is not open to sexually active singles or homosexuals.

Make sure your request is sent on to the Committee on the Preparation for Ministry of the church's Presbytery. The presbytery is the regional governing body. Once the request is in the hands of the presbytery, you go into the "inquiry" period. The inquiry lasts approximately two years, and during that time you are expected to discuss the implications of becoming an ordained minister with the Session and the presbytery.

Prove to the presbytery that you have a strong personal faith, an understanding of church traditions and a clear understanding of what your responsibilities will be. Once you do this you'll officially become a "candidate." Once you become a candidate you will undergo intensive training and preparation under the guidance of the Session and the Committee on Preparation for Ministry.

Complete your schooling. During the time you are a candidate, you are expected to finish your schooling. Candidates should have a undergraduate degree and a seminary degree, which generally takes three years.

Pass the national examine covering theology, the Bible, church polity, and worship and sacraments.

Go before the Committee on Preparation for Ministry to present your personal statement of faith and a sample sermon. If the Committee approves you, you'll receive a valid call to ministry and be ordained by the presbytery.


  • Take full advantage of the time you have to work with leaders of the church and to finish your seminary degree. Even if you decide not to pursue becoming an ordained minister, that time will be a great opportunity for you to learn and grow in faith.


  • Becoming an ordained minister takes years or work and study. It is not a decision you can make today and be a minister tomorrow. Only the presbytery can ordain a minister; not a congregation. Just because you feel called to be a Presbyterian minister does not mean you will be ordained. The committee on Preparation for Ministry must approve you and invite you into the ordained life.