Does Seminary Prepare for Ordination?

February 22, 2024

Seeking theological education is a vital and foundational step in the journey towards becoming an ordained pastor. Westminster Theological Seminary strongly emphasizes this pursuit, and offers a distinctive approach to ministerial preparation that blends rigorous theological study with robust practical training. As we delve into the question, "Does seminary prepare for ordination?" we will explore Westminster’s unique perspective on equipping future ministers for the challenges and responsibilities of ordained ministry. In this article, we aim to outline Westminster’s position on ordination and our effectiveness in shaping individuals for the sacred vocation of ministry.

We will cover what ordination is, whether you need to be ordained for the ministry you plan to pursue, how Westminster prepares students for ordination, and whether or not Westminster, as an institution, ordains people.

What is Ordination?

Westminster believes ordination holds a profound significance rooted in the sovereignty of God and the authority of Scripture. Ordination is a solemn and sacred act where the church sets apart individuals for specific roles of leadership and service, according to the principles outlined in the Word of God.

Ordination emphasizes the priesthood of all believers as well as the calling of pastors to exercise ministerial functions within the context of the local church. Ordination does not bestow any inherent holiness or power. Instead, it is a recognition and affirmation of God's gifting and calling upon individuals for particular tasks within the body of Christ.

The reformed tradition emphasizes the principle of "good order" within the church, stemming from 1 Corinthians 14:40 (“all things should be done decently and in order”) where ordained ministers are authorized to preach the Word, administer the sacraments, and exercise oversight in accordance with the principles of biblical governance. Ordination reflects the accountability of ministers to both the church and the Word of God. This is intended to ensure faithful adherence to sound doctrine and the proper administration of the church.

In essence, ordination underscores the primacy of God's Word and the vital role of ordained ministers as servants of Christ and stewards of His gospel within the covenant community. It is a solemn affirmation of God's calling, the recognition of gifts, and a commitment to faithfully serve God's people in accordance with His revealed will.

Do I Need to be Ordained for Ministry?

This should raise the question, “Do I need to be ordained for the ministry role that I am seeking to pursue?” The answer to that question, of course, depends upon the type of ministry that you are seeking to enter. 

Pastoral Ministry

Pastoral ministry typically requires ordination, though some denominations and traditions forego that requirement. For more information on this topic, read this article [link the Should I go to seminary if I don’t need to be ordained article]. It’s safe to say that most pastoral positions will require some form of ordination in order to serve there.

Other Ministry Roles

Some Academic Faculty, Campus Ministers, and Missionaries

Other forms of full-time ministry may also require ordination. For instance, every full-time voting faculty member at Westminster is required to be ordained in a Reformed Presbyterian denomination. Additionally, in the OPC and the PCA, full-time missionaries are often required to be ordained. Another example is the official campus ministry of the PCA, Reformed University Fellowship, also requires their full-time campus ministers to be ordained.

However, that is not to say that every ministry position will require ordination.

Counseling, Lay Leadership, and Part-Time Ministry Positions

Many biblical counselors are not required to be ordained. Almost no lay leaders in the church will be required to be ordained and very few part-time ministry positions require it either. With that said, just because you may not be required to undergo ordination does not mean that you should neglect seminary. To understand why seminary is still a good choice for practically any form of ministry, read this article.

How Does Westminster Prepare Students for Ordination?

To answer the main question of this article: Yes, Westminster does prepare students for ordination. Westminster is dedicated to meticulously preparing students for ordination, ensuring they are thoroughly equipped to assume the responsibilities and privileges of ordained ministry.

Central to preparation for ordination at Westminster is a comprehensive theological education that delves deeply into the Scriptures, theology, and church history. Through rigorous study of biblical languages, systematic theology, and the distinctives of the Reformed tradition, students develop a robust theological framework that undergirds their ministry.

Westminster also places a particular emphasis on practical ministry training tailored specifically to the demands of ordained ministry. From homiletics and pastoral counseling, to leadership development and church administration, students engage in hands-on experiences that hone their skills and prepare them for the challenges of pastoral ministry.

On top of the academic and practical training, Westminster also provides invaluable mentorship and pastoral guidance to students as they navigate the path towards ordination. Through one-on-one mentorship relationships with experienced ministers and faculty members, students receive personalized support and encouragement as they discern their calling and prepare for the solemn responsibilities of ordained ministry.

Ultimately, Westminster’s holistic approach to theological education and practical ministry training ensures that students graduate fully equipped and prepared to faithfully serve as ordained ministers within the Reformed Presbyterian tradition and beyond.

Does Westminster Ordain People?

As stated above, ordination is a function and process of the church, not of the seminary. So, while Westmisnter students graduate with skills, knowledge, and abilities that uniquely situate them in a place to succeed in their ordination exams, as well as the day to day functions of ordained ministry, we as an institution are not endowed with any ecclesiastical ability to ordain. We have no formal connection to any specific denomination and our graduates serve in a wide array of denominations and theological traditions. That being said, we are a Reformed Presbyterian Seminary and those who attend Westminster from other traditions may need additional courses on their particular tradition in order to be considered for ordained ministry there.


Westminster graduates have gone on to serve as notable faculty, pastors, ministry leaders, missionaries, and scholars around the world. They tend to be very well set up for success in the ordination process of many denominations and traditions. We also prepare students for various ministry roles that don’t require ordination.

If you have any questions about the ordination process, the theology behind it, or whether you will need to be ordained, please reach out to one of our admissions counselors at They would love to talk through these issues with you. If you think that Westminster is a good fit for you and for the ministry that you are seeking to enter, we encourage you to apply now!

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