Not Everyone is a Professional
My wife takes x-rays. The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists have certified and registered her every year since 1980. ARRT says
Certification and registration is the recognition of an individual who satisfies certain standards within a profession. Employers, state licensing agencies, and federal regulators look at the ARRT credential as an indication that a person has met a recognized national standard for medical imaging, interventional procedures, and radiation therapy professionals.
Her credentials do not guarantee that she is a “good” x-ray tech because that is measured by her behavior. We can ask her patients and co-workers if she is good. However, her credentials are necessary for her to be considered a professional in her field. Her good behavior does not negate her need to be credentialed.
I am an ordained minister with the General Council of the Assemblies of God. My credentials do not guarantee that I am a “good” pastor because that is measured by my behavior, by how I practice within my ministry. On the other hand, if I am a good pastor, it does not negate the necessity for me to carry credentials.
Everyone is a Minister
I have been told that papers and titles are meaningless in ministry. Perhaps this negative opinion is based on some positive principles found in the New Testament.
The Church is a priesthood of believers. It says, “…you also, as living stones, are being built up into a spiritual house as a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5)
Every Believer is a minister. If you are a follower of Jesus, you have been given the responsibility of ministry. “All this is from God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation,” (2 Corinthians 5:18)
The simple act of a financial offering is called ministry. “Meanwhile, through the performance of this ministry, they glorify God for the profession of your faith in the gospel of Christ and for your liberal sharing with them and with all others.” (Second Corinthians 9:13)
1. A church should be prudent about providing a housing allowance to employees that are not duly ordained, licensed, or commissioned ministers, even if that church calls that person “pastor”. The IRS is not likely to consider non-credentialed staff as eligible for a housing allowance (income that is excluded from taxable income). If the church is knowingly providing tax reductions to employees/contractors that are ineligible, this may be an issue that the IRS would consider worth investigating. Proper credentials would clarify much.↩
2. In Indiana, IC 31-11-6-1, indicates who is authorized to solemnize marriages. The legal code states that, in my case, I must be a member of the clergy of a religious organization. It does not say that I can merely be a verbally-designated pastor with authorized based upon my recognition by my local Christian fellowship. For example, when I was the pastor of an independent church located in Valparaiso, Indiana, the church was legally recognized as a church in the State of Indiana with a Constitution and By-Laws that made a provision for the church to choose and ordain their own ministers. Therefore, the church board and body ordained me for ministry within their body. In my current situation, in order to legally officiate at weddings, I would be required to be credentialed through the General Council of the Assemblies of God by the Indiana District Assemblies of God, the religious organization to which my local church belongs. If I were not credentialed appropriately, I would not solemnize marriages.↩