Once the domain of men, religious leadership is more inclusive than ever before. Women feeling the call to be a spiritual leader have ample opportunities open to them. As a spiritual counselor, you are responsible for assisting individuals in their faith walk. When members encounter a crisis of faith, or need help in their everyday life, you will be the touchstone for them. Additionally, ordained ministers conduct religious ceremonies such as weddings, funerals and worship services. Just as there are multiple religious denominations, there are disparate routes to becoming an ordained minister.
One of the more common routes to minister ordination involves enrolling in the seminary and progressing through the courses to receive a degree in divinity. Divinity degrees are master’s degrees, so a four-year college degree is a prerequisite to entering a program. Obtaining a degree in divinity allows you to apply to a church as a pastoral candidate. Upon acceptance, a church will ordain you as a minister. Dual programs such as the Master of Divinity/Master of Social Work offering at Baylor University prepares students to become counselors in addition to ministers.
Becoming an ordained minister may be as quick as clicking a few buttons on your computer. Online church ministries offer ordained minister status for a price. Many states recognize online certification as legal and obtaining status online gives you the right to perform religious ceremonies and make money as an ordained minister. The process allows you to print off a certificate so you can begin practicing as you wait for the hard copy. Before choosing this route, check with your local county or city agency to see if they recognize online minister licenses as legal. Becoming a counselor will take longer as you will need to enroll in a college program to become licensed.
If you are already a member of a church and you feel led to be a minister, talk to your church elders. Some churches do not require rigorous training or college degrees of their ministers. Some ministers start as church deacons and train in the ways of the church. They may also attend classes while undergoing this training, but not as structured as a master’s track program. Eventually, deacons may perform a worship service in front of the congregation. The elders may decide to ordain them as a church minister at this time. This may be the case in nondenominational churches while churches of a denomination have a set ordination process maintained by their governing bodies.
Although women are more accepted as church leaders than in the past, some faiths such as the Catholic and Jewish still bar them from serving as leaders. Other religions such as the Baptist allow women to lead in secondary roles such as music or youth ministries. Another stumbling block women may run into is the high cost of pursing a theological degree. Additionally, some programs require experience in ministering before applying for the Master of Divinity program. Some programs such as Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary admit women, but not to programs that lead to ordination.
Adele Burney started her writing career in 2009 when she was a featured writer in "Membership Matters," the magazine for Junior League. She is a finance manager who brings more than 10 years of accounting and finance experience to her online articles. Burney has a degree in organizational communications and a Master of Business Administration from Rollins College.