Independent Baptist churches don't participate in a larger, organized body. Each is self-governing and autonomous. As such, each has its own say in whether it will accept a minister's ordination or not. An independent Baptist who feels the call to ministry should understand what it means to be an independent Baptist minister as well as how to get there.
Answering the Call
Independent Baptists believe God calls on individuals to enter the ministry. Independent Baptist churches expect that before the individual expresses interest in ministry, the potential minister will prayerfully consider the vocation. Being an independent Baptist minister can be a hard life, and congregations expect a lot from their leaders. It's essential that the potential minister consider the call carefully and be ready to devote a lifetime to answering that call.
Without denominational guidelines to steer the way, an aspiring independent Baptist minister needs to do some legwork to find out what a given local church wants from its ministers. The path to ordination as an independent Baptist minister typically involves review by the local church pastor, deacons or board of administration. Usually, the candidate will be expected to preach some sermons in the church. Educational requirements are common, and at a minimum, the candidate will need to complete some basic theological studies. After the requirements are complete, the candidate can be ordained.
Independent Baptist churches typically have a long list of qualifications they expect from their ministers. They want ministers that are morally upright. They usually exclude women as well as divorced men from ministry. An independent Baptist minister is expected to avoid alcohol, foul language and other visible misconduct. An independent Baptist minister is also expected to be the leader of his home, have obedient children and a submissive wife. Finally, there is usually a doctrinal requirement that the prospective minister must adhere to.
The Life of an Independent Baptist Minister
Weekly duties of an independent Baptist minister usually include preaching the Sunday morning sermon and possibly a Sunday evening sermon, as well. He may be expected to teach a Sunday School class and one or more midweek Bible-study classes. Independent Baptist ministers regularly visit those members of the congregation who are sick, in the hospital or otherwise in need. Independent Baptist ministers perform wedding ceremonies, baptisms, funerals and serve Holy Communion on a semi-regular basis.
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