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What is the difference between a licensed minister and an ordained minister?

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    An authorised individual must preside over the ceremony during a wedding. A wedding can be officiated by a justice of the peace or a licenced or ordained minister in the majority of states. Different states have different requirements for clergy.

    The terms "ordained" and "licenced" are used interchangeably across faiths to describe clergy members, but the specific differences between them are not standardised. The tendency, however, is towards licencing for ministry work that includes conditions and possibly a time limit. A priest who has been ordained, on the other hand, is firmly established in the clergy.

    What is Ordained?

    One's standing in the church can be elevated through ordination. There are many paths to ordination as a pastor, from filling out a brief online form to spending several years in formal education. An ordained minister is authorised to lead worship, give sermons, and baptise members of the congregation.

    Those who have a significant preaching/teaching ministry in a church, parachurch, mission organisation, school, or other institution, including military chaplains, are good candidates for ordination, It is possible for the local church to confer a licence or ordain a person for a specific ministry that does not involve preaching and teaching.

    If a pastor or other church leader wants to recommend someone for ordination through Transformation Ministries, he or she should get in direct contact with the Developing Pastors Lead or the Executive Operations Specialist.

    Ordination Recognition

    All pastors of Covenanting Transformation Ministries Churches should seek official recognition of their ordination from Transformation Ministries.

    What Does Recognition Mean?

    According to the teachings of Transformation Ministries, a pastor is responsible to God and is consecrated by the church through the sacrament of ordination.

    • It is appropriate for Transformation Ministries to recognise the ordination of a pastor who has been called by a Covenanting Church but who was ordained by another Christian body.
    • The validity and transferability of a pastor's ordination beyond a local congregation is at stake in the recognition debate.


    What is Licensed?

    A minister's credentials are required for legitimate marriage ceremonies in several jurisdictions. The minister will need to submit an application for his licence to the appropriate local or state authority. Only marriages are considered legal events, hence a minister needs a licence to legally perform them.

    Throughout Christian history, ordained clergy have led worship services in churches. Such individuals are often recognised by the state as authorised to perform ceremonies with both legal and religious importance, such as marriages, baptisms, and burials. Pastoral care is another service they offer to their congregations. The burden of being looked to for spiritual direction by the congregation can be heavy on ministers' hearts, yet they may also find fulfilment in witnessing the growth of their flocks. In May 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that clergy in the 10th-90th percentiles earned $26,160 and $85/month, respectively.

    Through the licencing process, the local church can recognise, authorise, and validate an individual's qualifications for ministry. Churches within the Covenanting Transformation Ministries regard a licence as more evidence of a person's gifts and abilities.

    In most cases, a church's membership will approve a licence once it has been recommended by the church's board. It's not necessary to restrict licencing to pastors who only preach to recognise the many other types of ministry workers that need the same recognition. Like with ordination, the licence must be issued by the local church and not through Transformation Ministries.

    Typically, a layman with the gift and skill to preach, educate, or minister, as defined by the church issuing the licence, will be granted a licence. It's possible that the licence is a stepping stone towards ordination, or that it's simply an acknowledgement of a skilled layperson's ability to minister within the church.

    For example, a "Certificate of License for the Gospel Ministry" or "License to Preach" are common names for the same thing. Pastoral service places a premium on preaching, although other talents may be acknowledged through licensure.

    State Variations

    In states where this is not the case, any religious leader who possesses a valid ordination certificate from any denomination is free to officiate weddings. A licence, which comes with additional criteria, is necessary for this ministry in some states.

    Ordained Vs. Licensed Ministry

    Some churches and groups have a formal system of distinguishing between ordained and licenced preachers. Religious groups often regard ordained ministers to be permanent clergy, while this distinction is left to the discretion of each denomination. It is only after a minister has been ordained that he or she is legally authorised to preside over religious ceremonies such as baptisms, weddings, and funerals. Licensed ministers, on the other hand, may only serve as clergy within the context of a local congregation, but they may be authorised to conduct some ministerial functions in general. In contrast to the permanence of ordination, ministerial licencing may expire after a set number of years. The IRS considers licenced ministers to be the same as ordained ministers for tax reasons. However, it may use different criteria when deciding whether or not a minister is exempt from paying regular income tax.

    The Church Board minutes must include the licencing approval. Both the Church and the licenced individual should keep a record of the proceedings. It's important to note that there are two distinct kinds of permits:

    • For the ministry, while affiliated with the licensing church.
    • For the Gospel ministry from the date of licensing forward.

    If "for the gospel ministry from the date of licencing onward" is chosen, the church retains the ability to cancel the licence for reasons including heretical teaching and moral failing. If that happens, the licensee must be notified by letter that their privilege to operate must be immediately terminated. These two sorts of certifications are available for Christian book businesses. ** If the pastor's principles are in line with the exemption statement, he can apply for an exemption from Social Security within two years of receiving his licence or ordination. Consult with a tax expert and proceed with caution.

    Although a leader chosen by God to the Gospel ministry is at the centre of the ordination process and where it will end. The congregation the leader now serves also needs to acknowledge the leader's call. However, the Converge family of churches and its leaders are also actively engaged in guiding the church and helping the ordination candidate. Here, then, is a rundown of the ordination procedure for Converge congregations and leaders:

    What the Church and the Candidate Think About It

    • By holding a formal vote, the church can let the Converge regional leadership know that it wants to ordain a certain person.
    • The candidate and their ordaining church receive a copy of the ordination manual from the Converge regional office.
    • The candidate fills up the reservation form and sends it in via regular mail to the local Converge office.
    • A written confirmation of the reservation is mailed to the applicant by the Converge region.
    • Six copies of the candidate's doctrinal statement are sent to the Converge regional staff at least one month before the interview. It's fine to use email.
    • A hard copy of the doctrinal statement is sent by the Converge region to each active member of the relevant Ordination Guidance Committee.
    • Candidates for ordination are interviewed by the Ordination Guidance Committee, which then provides recommendations to the church that will be performing the ordination and sends a copy to the candidate.
    • In the event that the candidate is advised to wait before convening an ordination council, he or she may request another interview at the next regularly scheduled Ordination Guidance Committee meeting.
    • The ordaining church sets a date for the council and sends invitations to delegates from sister churches after receiving a letter of instruction to do so.
    • The Council discusses the ordination process and makes a recommendation to the church.
    • In the View of the Committee to Provide Direction on Ordinances
    • The Converge region confirms the interview time.
    • The candidate prepares and sends a doctrinal statement.
    • The Converge region distributes the doctrinal statement.

    Marriage Officiating

    Even though the credentials required to legally perform marriages vary from state to state in the United States, the distinction between licenced and ordained ministers is frequently mentioned as the deciding factor in cases of conflict. Different states have different requirements for who can perform a legally binding marriage ceremony; in some, only ordained ministers are allowed. In the state of California, for instance, anyone can petition for the right to legally marry a couple; however, this right lasts for only a single day.

    State laws may require the wedding officiant to be a member of the clergy, even though many religious groups only allow licenced ministers to perform weddings. Clergy in the United States should make sure they are allowed to lawfully officiate weddings in their own state.

    Education Level

    Ordination serves as a means of differentiation between ministers of different educational backgrounds and experience levels in many religious traditions. For example, the Evangelical Covenant Church and the Unitarian Universalist Association usually expect their ordained pastors to have a Master of Divinity. There are three "tracks" to ordination in American Baptist Churches, each requiring a different level of education and ministry experience.

    There are certain religious groups that require a higher level of education of its ordained ministers than their licenced ministers. Ordinands in many Christian congregations are expected to have a Master of Divinity degree, although licenced ministers may only need a bachelor's degree. The Evangelical Covenant Church of the United States, for example, expects its ministers to have completed a full seminary curriculum. The United Methodist Church is one such organisation that provides funding for educational opportunities for ordained clergy.


    There are additional limitations on the kind of services and responsibilities that ordained pastors can perform in some faith traditions. Most ministerial licences allow the holder to preach. A minister's responsibilities may be limited to just weddings, or they may not include funerals and baptisms at all.



    Reasons for Distinction

    Different religious groups have different reasons for distinguishing between ordained and licenced preachers. The initial step towards ordination for certain religious groups is serving as a licenced minister at seminary. Moreover, if there is a shortage of educated clergy in a certain location, a denomination may decide to issue licences to local ministers in order to fill the void. It is common practise in these churches to grant ministerial licences to engaged laypeople who have no formal training in the ministry. Lastly, some religious groups want ministers to have licences so that they may be held accountable for their work in the church, whether it's full-time or volunteer.


    For the purpose of describing clergy, the terms "ordained" and "licenced" are often used interchangeably across religions. An ordained minister has the authority to preside over services, preach to the congregation, and baptise new members. Once a priest has been ordained, he has a permanent place in the church. An individual's qualifications for ministry can be recognised, authorised, and validated through a licencing process within the context of a local church. The median annual salary for clergy was $26,160 in May 2018, with the top 10 percent earning $31,880. The bottom 10 percent earned $87.

    Only within the context of a local congregation are ordained ministers permitted to perform the role of clergy. A minister may, however, be delegated authority over certain non-ministerial tasks. Ministry licences, in contrast to ordination, may expire after a certain number of years. Licensed ministers are treated the same as ordained ministers by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). To be ordained, a person must receive a majority vote from the church's governing body, known as an Ordination Council.

    Who can legally perform a marriage ceremony varies from state to state. Clergy in the United States who wish to perform wedding ceremonies should verify that they are authorised to do so in their home state. Differentiating ministers with varying levels of education and experience is important in many faiths, and ordination is one way to do this. Many Christian churches require a Master of Divinity from their ordained ministers, while those seeking a licence to preach only need a bachelor's.

    Content Summary

    • A wedding cannot take place without a valid officiant.
    • Ordinarily, a member of the clergy leads Christian worship services in churches.
    • A person's qualifications for ministry can be acknowledged, authorised, and verified by the local church through the licencing process.
    • The local church, not Transformation Ministries, is responsible for issuing the licence, just as it is with ordination.
    • The following is a summary of the steps involved in the ordination process for Converge churches and pastors:
    • The Opinions of the Church and the Candidate
    • The church can signal to the Converge regional leadership that it intends to ordain a particular individual by means of a formal vote.
    • The Converge regional office will send a copy of the ordination manual to the candidate and the church that will be ordaining them.
    • Differentiating ministers with varying levels of education and experience is important in many faiths, and ordination is one way to do this.
    • There are some faiths that expect more from their ordained ministers than they do from their licenced ones in terms of academic credentials.
    • In some faiths, ordained pastors are restricted from performing certain services and carrying out certain duties.
    • Ministerial credentials typically include the freedom to preach.
    • Arguments for Separation
    • The distinction between ordained and licenced preachers is important to some religions for different reasons.

    FAQs About Minister

    Ordination permits the minister to perform church rites and sacraments, such as baptisms, legal marriages and funerals. ... Unlike ordination, which is usually considered to be a one-time event, the credentials for licensed ministers may only be valid for a specific period of time.

    It is important to get a license to preach the gospel when you sense the call of God to minister to people spiritually. As a licensed minister you have the right to preach, teach, and officiate weddings.

    The main difference between the two is that the wedding officiant owns a degree that allows him to officiate a wedding. On the other hand, an ordained minister gets ordained from any particular church and is allowed to do other church activities as well along with officiating a wedding.

    Role. Most ministers are in charge of a government department or assist in the administration of a department, such as the Department of Defence, Department of Health or Treasury. A government department is an organisation of people employed in the Australian Public Service.

    In Christianity, a minister is a person authorised by a church or other religious organization to perform functions such as teaching of beliefs; leading services such as weddings, baptisms or funerals; or otherwise providing spiritual guidance to the community.

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