Online Ordinations – Good or Bad?


You probably heard the argument. The apostles didn’t have degrees in theology or graduate from a seminary.

It started in the US with the Universal Life Church. They had court cases that went all the way, to the US supreme court. And they won that battle, on the grounds of freedom of religion. Since then, some interesting developments were made. They never trademarked or copyrighted the name Universal Life Church. Now two popular spinoffs have taken place, with the same name:

The Universal Life Church Monastery, headquartered in Oregon.
The Universal Life Church in Florida, which claims to be entirely Christian. But they seem confused on what they are. You can either be an independent Protestant minister or an independent Catholic priest, through them.

Anyway, other groups have since followed suit – both secular and Christian. Some of the Christian ones are sincere, like the United Christian Faith Ministries (i.e. UCFM). And some secular ones are sincere, like the American Marriage Ministries (i.e. The TV comedian Steven Colbert is ordained by them). I encourage folks to Google or Bing “Christian online ordination” or “online ordination”.

I also have ordinations from three sources, which I don’t use – but they are valid for life.

The original Universal Life Church in Modesto, California
World Christianship Ministries, which have a very flexible – but brief – statement of faith (which I’m in accord with, by the way).
American Marriage Ministries (i.e. I like the leadership, which includes a Jewish Rabbi and a Protestant minister).

None of these organizations will kick me out, for my views on this forum. But are online ordinations a good or bad thing?


NEITHER. They are useless. “Ordination” is a device of the various sects and denominations to ensure that they get an approved minister.

Unless you intend to be a pastor in a “Universal Life Church” (if such a sect even exists) or whatever other “organizations” you received ordination certificates, then of what value is your ordination certificates beyond “proving” that you are an “ordained minister” with several different groups?

Anyone has the religious freedom to claim to be a church and to issue ordination certificates at a price. Depending on the market, this could be a lucrative business! $$$$$


While it is true the Apostles didn’t have degrees, they were being formally trained by a rabbi (that would the Lord Jesus) they were His disciples, His students, and that meant at least they were in formal training to Him as rabbi (as Paul would have been a disciple of Gamaliel for example) the purpose was formal training to become as the one training you (the idea of informal training, or learning for fun was foreign to the ancient world, you learnt something to become proficient and professional in that craft). So the Apostles very much did have training and learning, interesting we see this with Mary and Martha in their dispute, when Martha is disturbed by Mary sitting at the Lord Jesus’ feet the frustration wasn’t just because Mary wasn’t helping out in the kitchen, but because in the ancient Middle East she was sitting at Rabbi’s feet while he as teaching, that was a disciple or student position, and as said the concept of learning for your own interest was alien at this time, so she was learning as a disciple (which is a big deal in ancient Mediterranean in general, and Jewish society in particularly, women didn’t do it, as it wasn’t seen as women’s role).

So the Apostles were themselves in over three years of formal and intensive training, and of course Paul was highly educated, so yes ministers and priests should definitely be trained and experienced before they begin (people can discuss how this should be done, but they definitely need training and understanding), and should spend time under another for a bit before pastoring a congregation in their own right (for example being a deacon before becoming a priest).

So online orientations will no doubt continue, but I wouldn’t consider them a good thing in general.


I don’t see them as good or bad. They’re useful should a family or friend request you to officiate their wedding. I have one but never really mention it. Besides, all Christians are called to be ministers of reconciliation and are a part of the royal priesthood. And I also feel that God doesn’t call the qualified, but rather qualifies the called. That said, I wouldn’t recommend trying to pass oneself off a Pastoral/marriage/etc counselor or a theologian with some certificate from the mail. It would be best to study and gain experience so you can better help people with deep issues…but for preaching the Good News, no, you don’t need a piece of paper. Sharing the gospel isn’t rocket science.


I agree with Paidion and TurtleJoy.

What’s the point? It reminds me of the dumb “star naming” offers we always hear (around her anyway), especially as Christmas approaches. For a fee, these innovative folks will name a star after your loved one. For a fee, you get a certificate and a star map showing the location of the namesake star. :unamused: Who gave them the authority to name stars after people? And who gives these guys the authority to ordain people? They do it in their own name. It means nothing. I might as well “ordain” myself. That at least would be free. :wink:


For the record, the ULC and WCM ordinations were done in the seventies. I did the AMM one in the last two years, only because my comic TV hero - Steven Colbert - did it. In none of these cases, did I pay a fee. Of course, they do sell certificates, if you wish to buy them. And I have never used any of these ordinations, but they are all good for life.


Speaking as a seminarian in a brick and mortar United Methodist seminary, online ordinations are to me, a mixed bag. The Christian Universalist Association (CUA) is one of many online ordination programs that requires study, discernment, prayer and hard work. Their program can be found at … n-program/. At some point during, or after completing seminary, I will seek to go through the CUA’s program so I can be a certified Christian Universalist pastor in the American Baptist-Disciples traditions. However, there are some programs that are what I call “ordination mills” where you pay to get ordained without any work or effort of any kind. This type of program is a slap in the face to all of us who went through legitimate ordination programs and who sought to discern the Lord’s call on our lives. To my brothers and sisters I say- discern, pray and consider your options before you settle on your program and ask the hard questions.


Think of it more as an apprentiship. to disciple is to train.

:mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: