Some have suggested that the Book of Church Order (BOCO) requires every candidate for ministry in the PCA have both a Bachelor and Master degree. This paper seeks to demonstrate the error in that view of BOCO 21.4 and to provide a correct interpretation of same article.
— Brian Kelso

Serving the Lord Jesus Christ as an ordained Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) is a great honor and privilege. The following seven steps, based on the PCA Book of Church Order (BOCO) chapters 18-21, are required for ordination in the PCA. 

Seven steps to ordination in the PCA:

  1. Church Membership:  Before beginning the ordination process, a candidate must be a member in good standing of a PCA church for at least six months.
  2. Coming Under Care of the local Presbytery: An applicant for the ministry must place himself under the care of the local Presbytery with the recommendation of the session of the church of which he is a member.  A candidate to come under care will be examined by the Presbytery regarding his experiential religion and motives for seeking the ministry.  While under care, the candidate’s ministry preparations will be under the oversight of the Presbytery and will include leading public worship, preaching, and other forms of Christian work.
  3. Licensure: Prior to eligibility for ordination, a candidate must be licensed by his presbytery. This requires an examination, including a personal statement of Christian experience and inward call, basic knowledge of biblical doctrine as outlined in the Confession of Faith and Larger and Shorter Catechisms, practical knowledge of the Bible, and basic knowledge of PCA church government as outlined in the Book of Church Order.
  4. Internship: The candidate must serve an internship of at least one year, which may occur during or after the candidate’s theological education.  During the internship, the candidate will have the opportunity to test his gifts and calling within the full range of ministerial activities.
  5. Call: A candidate or licentiate can be ordained only after receiving a call to a specific work.  This call comes from a church, presbytery, or General Assembly.
  6. Ordination:  A candidate must have completed formal theological training and be able to present evidence of the satisfactory completion of his internship.  He must then be examined on his experiential religion, personal character, and family management, knowledge of Greek and Hebrew, Bible content, theology, the Sacraments, church history, the history of the PCA, and the principles and rules of the government and discipline of the church.  He must also prepare a thesis on an assigned theological topic and prepare and preach an exegetical sermon requiring knowledge of the original languages.  
  7. Installation: Once the candidate has satisfactorily completed all the ordination requirements, he is eligible for installation into the office of minister at the church that has called him.


See the sidebar for a reading of Teaching Elder Brian Kelso’s insightful explanation of  the BOCO 21.4 for more information about the educational  and  constitutional  requirement  for  ordination  in  the  PCA.

Fill out this form to receive information about becoming an ordained Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).

Name *

We will protect your information and will not send you unwanted email.