Leadership, Authority, and Religious Roles

How are Christian religious leaders chosen, educated, and given authority?

Candidates for ministry and governance in most churches simply present themselves for admission to the appropriate educational branches of their organizations. Seminaries oversee the special ministerial training of church members. Many refer to the desire to enter the ministry as a “vocation” or a calling from God. In some cases members of many denominations take their ministerial theological education at non-or multidenominational seminaries or schools of divinity, generally emerging after three or four years with a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree or its equivalent. Some students may pursue further studies toward a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) degree or a Ph.D., hence the common appellation “Reverend Doctor.” Protestant ministers more often than not obtain their pastoral appointments at local churches of their denominations through the mechanism of the “call,” whereby a congregation interviews prospective pastors and then invites its first choice. Catholic bishops generally appoint priests of their dioceses to specific parishes without consulting the local congregations. Orthodox and other Eastern church administrators sometimes exercise a similar appointive authority.


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