What it means to be legally ordained

The word “ordained” or “ordination” often conjures up the thought or idea of a spiritual act or religious ceremony that involves the “laying on of hands” of one individual to another; a spiritual act that consecrates an individual as a minister of the gospel. This spiritual act is generally modeled after the “ordination” of Barnabas and Saul in the Book of Acts, which reads,

“One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Dedicate Barnabas and Saul for the special work I have for them.’ So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid hands on them and sent them on their way.” Acts 13:2-3 (NLT)

This act is commonly practiced throughout many churches and ministries today, but is this act alone enough for a minister to be legally ordained? Although one’s “spiritual ordination” will not be questioned by the state or federal governments, many ministers are unaware that their ordinations do not meet the requirements of ordination for legal purposes. To be recognized as legally ordained, a more thorough process is necessary, and we will examine that process later in this portal. But first, to better understand the reasoning behind that process, it is necessary to understand the definition of a minister for legal purposes. In essence, for legal purposes, there are three main definitions of a minister, which are: 1) a minister for the purpose of solemnization of marriages, 2) a minister for employment purposes, and 3) a minister for tax purposes. We will examine each of these next.