Pastors by degree

Evolution of a vocation
There is no state regulation for the profession of pastoral ministry. Although you need a license to practice medicine or law, or to open up shop as a massage therapist, you don’t need one to be a minister. There are expectations about what qualifies people for ordination, of course, but these expectations are changing. The forms of regulation that once required a master of divinity for ordination have been weakening, with congregations and judicatories becoming more interested in effectiveness than in credentials.

For several decades the M.Div. degree has been the necessary credential for ordained ministry among most U.S.-based denominations. Without state regulation, it’s only a working norm, yet it’s been an effective norm because church bodies have had the social power to regulate who can be ordained.


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