The Process from Call to Ordination
What Everyone Called to the Ministry Needs to Know/Do
Called to Ministry and Local Minister’s License
- If you sense that God is calling you to ministry, talk to your pastor about it. He/she will be a support and encouragement to you and guide you in the process of identifying and answering God’s call on your life. You and your pastor will want to familiarize yourselves with the Handbook for Christian Ministry and PART V- Ministry and Christian Service in the Church of the Nazarene Manual.
- As he/she begins to identify gifts and graces you have for ministry, your pastor may want to have you apply to the church board for a Local Minister’s License. This license is for a one-year period (renewable) and is designed to help you and the church to continue to identify your gifts and graces for ministry. The local church is not required to grant you a local license or renew it. The District Board of Ministry relies on the local church to candidly evaluate all candidates for vocational ministry and to only recommend for a district license (see below) those it deems called of God and recipients of the gifts and graces needed for ministry. Upon being licensed you should register your call to ministry with the District Board of Ministry via this online registration form.
- Once you have received your Local License, you will be expected to identify your Local Ministry Advisor. This person will likely be your pastor but may be another ordained Nazarene minister in your local church (retired minister, associate staff member). When requesting the pastor or other ordained Nazarene minister to be your local advisor you will ask them to sign the Local Advisor Covenant; you will bring this signed covenant to your first interview with the District Board of Ministry (more about that below). You will meet with this local advisor on at least a quarterly basis (unless you are on the ministerial staff of the church; church staff meetings will then suffice) for prayer, mentoring, accountability. He or she will also complete an annual Local Advisor report that you will provide to him/her and then take to your annual interview with the District Board of Ministry. A person who is serving as the pastor of a local church will have the District Superintendent as the Local Advisor. One who is serving in an ethnic, multi-cultural or cross-cultural ministry (Hispanic/Latino ministry, for example) will be advised by the Anglo pastor in which his/her ministry is being held and/or the District Ministry Leader/Coordinator.
- With the call to ministry comes the call to prepare for ministry. The local minister is expected to begin biblical, theological, practical and historical training through the Nazarene Course of Study for Ministers, a curriculum requiring the completion of 24 particular modules. These courses are offered through our district (see "Our Course of Study") or they can be taken through a Nazarene college or university on-campus or on-line such as Point Loma Nazarene University, Nazarene Bible College, or Fresno Pacific University. Graduation from approved degree programs at Nazarene institutions fulfills the requirements of the Nazarene Course of Study for Ministers.
- A local license cannot be renewed after two years without the written approval of the District Superintendent if you have not completed at least 2 modules in the Course of Study.
- Once you have received your local license, begun your ministerial education, entered into covenant with your local advisor and registered your call to ministry with the Board of Ministry, you will begin receiving correspondence regarding an annual interview (held in March of each year) with a small group of the Board of Ministry. The early year(s) of this annual interview will be to get to know you, ascertain that you are on the right track with your local advisor and your plan for ministerial education, and guide you in the upcoming process of development and credentialing (District License and Ordination). Each year you will bring your Local Advisor’s Report with you to your interview.
District Minister’s License
- The next step in the preparation and credentialing process for ministry will be for you to apply for a District Minister’s License. In order to apply for a district license you will have held a local license for at least one year; you will have completed at least one-quarter of the modules in the Course of Study (to include the History and Polity of the Church of the Nazarene module); you will have been recommended for a district license by your local church board (A recommendation form will be provided to the church board; in the case of licensed ministers who are serving as pastors, the recommendation is made by the District Advisory Board); and you will submit the application for a district license provided by the District Secretary. You will also, if you have been divorced at any time, be required to work through a process of removing this “barrier” to receiving a district license (see Manual 429.1(8) and talk with the District Secretary). This must be done before you can be considered for a district license. It is incumbent upon you to notify your small group interview team (see below) if you have ever been divorced.
- The District Minister’s License provides a number of results:
- a. If you are serving in an appropriate role (see Manual 429.7), you are vested with authority to administer the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper in your own congregation and to officiate at marriages.
- b. If you receive financial compensation for your ministry from a church, you become “Self-Employed for Income Tax purposes”. The church is no longer required to withhold taxes from your compensation, particularly for social security. You move from the FICA system to the “self-employed” system where you will pay your social security taxes on a quarterly basis. More information is available through the district office.
- c. Any compensation that you receive for housing is not subject to income taxation.
- When you apply for a district license you will interview with a small group of the District Board of Ministry (in March) and will be expected to be progressing in your understandings of ministry, the Bible, theology, etc. You can expect the interviews to become progressively deeper and more intense as you progress toward ordination. You will be required to bring your Local Advisor’s Report to your interview. Upon recommendation of your small group the Board of Ministry will recommend you to the District Assembly to receive your District License. The District Assembly then votes whether or not to grant the district license.
- Before you are granted a District License you will be required to complete an appropriate background check as required by the Church of the Nazarene Manual and as administered by the Central California District.
- The district license may be renewed annually via the same process as outlined above for receiving your first license.
- In order for your district license to be renewed you must complete at least 2 modules each year in the Course of Study.
- You will be expected to report to the District Assembly annually via a report form provided to you by the District Secretary.
- When/if you become a pastor of a local church, an associate pastor in a local church, or serve in another approved ministry (see Manual 429.7), you are considered to be serving “in an assigned ministry”, whether that is on a full-time or part-time or a paid or unpaid basis (see Manual 404-425 for what roles qualify for “assignment”.). In order to be ordained, you will be required to serve the equivalent of three years full-time in an assigned ministry. If the ministry assignment is less than full-time, the Manual requires that there be an extension of the consecutive years of in-service time.
Preparation for Ordination
- The next step is to prepare for ordination. As you near the completion of the Course of Study and the completion of your service time in an assigned ministry, you will want to be interviewed to enter a year of mentoring by a member of the District Board of Ministry (or their designee). The year of mentoring is designed to better prepare you for ordination as a minister in the Church of the Nazarene. In your year of mentoring, you will meet with your mentor six times to work through any issues that arise in the pre-year of mentoring interview and to otherwise prepare you for ordination. There will be a covenant that you will sign with your mentor. You will also provide the Local Advisor’s Report at your pre-mentoring interview as well as at the mid-point of your year of mentoring.
- At the completion of your year of mentoring, if he or she deems it advisable, your mentor becomes your advocate to the District Board of Ministry during your ordination interview. Upon completion of a successful ordination interview the Board of Ministry will recommend you for ordination as an Elder or a Deacon to the Central California District Assembly. Upon the Assembly’s vote and the General Superintendent’s examination and approval, you will be ordained as a minister in the Church of the Nazarene.