In most denominations, ordination refers to the process of being officially recognized and established by an ecclesiastical authority like an elder, a bishop, or a cardinal to be a minister. Given the independent nature of most baptist churches, it's unclear who is doing the ordination and what it means.


2 Answers 2


According to an article on one of the ABC-USA's regional websites, "ordination is the process that a church enters to affirm the calling, giftedness, and service of the candidate, ordination cannot be detached from a place of service," and it is "a public affirmation of what God has already done."

The article, as well as the SBC FAQ, says that ordination is done by each local congregation, and each congregation decides for itself what the requirements and prerequisites are, and may or may not consult other churches before doing so. Some don't even require ordination of its pastors.

  • Interesting, so being an "ordained baptist minister" means that someone somewhere has decided that you are now a baptist minister? Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 20:58
  • @Ben It would seem so, but more specifically, that the governing body of some Baptist church somewhere has decided it. Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 20:59
  • @Mr.Bultitude Although almost any group of people can declare themselves to be a Baptist church. Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 0:04
  • It actually makes for a decently consistent approach. If you don't believe the sacraments are more than symbols, it's not that significant that they be administered by clergy. If you affirm the priesthood of all believers, there is not a strong distinction between clergy and laity. A pastor is someone recognized by the church to exercise their gifts. Finally, the internal/external distinctions they tend to draw means that if someone declares themselves to be a baptist church, they are either right or wrong in God's eyes, but it has nothing to do with formal recognition. Interesting really. Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 0:29

I have sat on an ordination counsel (as a layman) for an American Baptist Church. While other things that have been said are true, there is realistically a few more things, at least for that region at that time.

  1. Education. At least a Masters of Divinity at a recognized seminary.
  2. A character check based on people who know the candidate.
  3. A written document explaining your beliefs -- to see if they are generally compatible with the denomination (for Baptists that can be pretty wide).
  4. A question and answer time with the candidate.
  5. A frank discussion with the candidate out of the room as to how ready they are.

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