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How does a Person Become a Reverend?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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The steps to becoming a reverend depend much on the sect of Christianity to which one wishes to belong. Many sects of Christianity use the title reverend, suggesting reverence, for their preachers. This includes Catholic and Greek and Eastern Orthodox priests. One is used to hearing them referred to as “Father,” but their official title for purpose of address is “Reverend.”

Most becoming a reverend will attend divinity school or a seminary and study religion from a Christian perspective. This perspective can be different depending upon the sect. For example, Catholics study from a bible that includes the “Apocrypha,” several books not belonging to the King James Bible. Other sects of Christianity may also examine the “Apocrypha” but feel it does not contain the same sacred value of those books contained in the King James Version.

In all Protestant denominations, a reverend can be married. In many, either a man or woman can become a reverend. Like Catholic priests, most Protestant denominations ordain ministers. They may also be subject to background checks and psychological examinations prior to becoming a reverend. This is also the case of Anglican denominations. Most who wish to become a reverend must submit to checks by the church to ensure the safety of the parishioners.

Some churches require a four-year college degree, and then post-graduate study in theology before granting one the title of reverend. Others require merely study with the leader of a church. Not every Christian sect has a paid reverend position. For example the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Saints, also called the Mormon Church, does not pay a minister, but instead a person from the religion leads church meetings, and oversees the operations of the local ward or branch of the church. The Bishop, as he is called, usually maintains an occupation outside of the church. Most Bishops have significant theological training, however, and have participated in intensive bible study, and at least one two-year mission, although this is not required.

In the Jehovah’s Witness religion, anyone baptized is essentially a minister. The ministers at church services can be both men and women. Women do quite a bit of preaching, but tend to be less involved in administrative work, and answers directly to the elders of the church.

The quickest way to become a reverend is to sign up on the Internet for a license. This can legally give one the right to perform marriages. It requires little to no education, and some people do it simply as a joke, or to perform the marriage ceremony for a friend. It is certainly no guarantee of holding a job in any church, unless one starts a congregation.

Some people who are not specifically of any religion become a reverend if they are good speakers and would like to perform marriage ceremonies for a living. Most Christian sects, however make significant distinction between a person who has been educated and ordained as a reverend, and someone who has simply spent a few minutes filling out forms to gain the title.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Practical Adult Insights contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By anon977092 — On Nov 07, 2014

I want to be a Reverend of Satanism. Why is this just about xtianity?

By anon937438 — On Mar 05, 2014

The title "Reverend" is used only one time in the Bible and it's in reference to God Almighty.

I find the term "reverend" used by man very offensive as does God, I'm sure.

By anon310911 — On Dec 27, 2012

Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. They filled out the paper work, paid a fee, and instantly became licensed blabbermouths.

By anon296111 — On Oct 09, 2012

''Some examples: Allah, Jesus, and Hitler.'' Do you mean the Muhammad? I thought Allah is translated as god. Come on man, get it together.

By anon255483 — On Mar 17, 2012

Al Sharpton was given that phone title when he was 9 or ten years old by an equally undeserving con artist.

By anon143589 — On Jan 17, 2011

Al Sharpton became a Reverend because he recognized at an early age that most of "the revered" were wealthy and held in high esteem without having given much effort besides talking and claiming they were a chosen voice of a higher power.

He discovered at a very young age, that basically, as long as you convince other people you know something they don't, they will give a lot of money and defend you to the death.

Some examples: Allah, Jesus, and Hitler.

By anon141239 — On Jan 09, 2011

Some of the first ministers were apostles of Jesus. What exact "degrees" did they have is what I would like to know? According to the United States Constitution, we still have freedom of religion, so unlike "millwrights," we can be Christians without any formal training!

By anon112699 — On Sep 21, 2010

Our pastors have earned the honorific, Reverend, by completing a four year college program followed by an advanced degree in theology. They have passed ordination exams to do so.

To claim this honor without completing the proper course of study is offensive. This is true of any title that is conferred after completion of appropriate course like being an educator. Don't use the titles unless you have the appropriate letters after your name.

Just because I can swing a hammer with the best of them, doesn't entitle me to call myself a millwright! Thanks for letting me air my pet peeve.

By anon110964 — On Sep 14, 2010

One cannot become a "reverend" anymore than one can become an "honorable" or a "sir".

"Reverend" is an honorific for a pastor, minister or priest. It is also always preceded by "the" -- The Rev. John Doe.

By anon108288 — On Sep 02, 2010

Rev. Al Sharpton became a reverend as a child. How is this possible? Does anyone know?

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Practical Adult Insights contributor...
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