Thinking Out Loud

September 10, 2016

Quick Ordination to Perform a Wedding or Two

Filed under: Christianity, marriage — Tags: , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:52 am

Wedding RingsMatt Marino is an Episcopal Priest who in a previous lifetime spent 17 years with Young Life. He blogs at The Gospel Side.  Several months ago — admittedly at the start of the wedding season in North America — he posted this article. At one time I tried to pursue ordination through an independent organization, and never went through with it because every organization I contacted assumed I was just another guy wanting to perform weddings…

No. You don’t want your uncle Jimmy to get ordained online to do your wedding.

It is trendy to have someone you know buy an online ordination and do your wedding ceremony. Every year I have multiple (otherwise solid) Christians contact me to ask where and how to find the “least weird” way to be ordained. Here is my response:

It is an honor to be asked, and good on you for wanting to make it as right as possible. Unfortunatelywhat you are asking just isn’t. Would you ask a teacher help you get a “less weird” online teaching certificate? Or a doctor to help you get a “less weird” online medical license? Getting ordained through Billy Bob’s Online Church of the Twenty-Buck Blessing may seem like a good idea, but it overlooks the training and experience needed to do a wedding well. A teacher does more than pull off classroom management as a one-time substitute, and a doctor more than demonstrate mastery of the tongue depressor in a routine visit. In the same way, a pastor does much more than simply read a wedding service.

Your friend will be putting someone who has never done a wedding in charge of the single most expensive and important party of their life. Will they also be asking a friend who takes nice Instagram pics to be photographer? A minister is air-traffic control. They make all of the many parts and people move in coordination. Brides are under a lot of stress. They do not need a rookie at the helm.

More than that, a non-ordained friend doing the ceremony is a bad setup for the marriage. Marriage is a sacred act originating in the mind of God. Marriage is tough. It needs God’s participation to have more than a Powerball player’s chance of making it after you scratch the ink off and see what resides below the surface of each of us. There are important roles in a wedding a friend can handle, but when it comes to making the vows, you want to have every bit of oomph possible behind those promises. You want a couple, even ones without faith involvement, to say, “I promised God and God’s representative in front of all of my friends and family in that church that I will love this girl/boy no matter how bad a time I am having of it. I’d better make good on this!”

Do them a favor, ask them to find someone duly ordained. Probably not what you wanted to hear.🙂

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March 5, 2013

Online Ordination Organizations Offer Sketchy Screening

Filed under: Church, education, ministry — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:58 am

Wanna become an ordained minister in the next 24 hours?  If you do, the odds are that you’re doing it so you can perform weddings and funerals and enjoy the financial windfall that comes from officiating at those rites. Furthermore, a lot of people looking to do weddings are getting into the biz just so they perform same-sex ceremonies.

But what if you’re looking for something that at least suggests it might have credibility?

Decades ago, there was a classified ad in Rolling Stone where, for $2.00, I could become ordained in something I think was called the “Mother Earth Church.” On Sunday night, I was ready to respond to that, or any other solicitation if it meant acceptance into the secret club.

Well, one secret club. We were talking about how recently certain people had gained admittance  into a generally closed meeting based on some past certification and credentialing.

I have an unfilled wish to be in vocational ministry. And I also have a wish not to be in pastoral ministry. In many respects I am in full-time ministry, albeit absent the paycheck. I should be content with that, right?

But it goes unrecognized. Even the church I lay-pastored for nearly two years was never officially sanctioned by the clergy establishment of that town. I don’t want to perform weddings. I don’t want a title. I just want to see people in lay-ministry recognized for what they do. Without having to learn the secret handshake.

So I spent an hour online researching various Evangelical Christian groups that recognize the work people are already doing. Originally out of frustration. Just to dream about this was the most energized hour of my entire week. There are some good organizations that aren’t looking to make a fast dollar, and want to see some kind of statement of faith and testimony before they ship you the certificate.

My calling from God?  It’s in the mail.

And then there was this one, which got me as far as starting to click on some online forms. For this one, you had to establish a login, create a password and… well it was the verification hint that got to me:

Online Ordination Form

…And here’s the thing: I’m pretty sure the right answer is squirrel.*


For those who don’t get the last line…

* One Sunday a pastor was using squirrels for an object lesson for the children. He started, “I’m going to describe something, and I want you to raise your hand when you know what it is.” The children nodded eagerly.

“This thing lives in trees (pause) and eats nuts (pause)…” No hands went up. “And it is gray (pause) and has a long bushy tail (pause)…” The children were looking at each other nervously, but still no hands raised. “It jumps from branch to branch (pause) and chatters and flips its tail when it’s excited (pause)…”

Finally one little boy tentatively raised his hand. The pastor quickly called on him. “Well,” said the boy, “I know the answer must be ‘Jesus’ … but it sure sounds like a squirrel!”

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