The church upholds scriptural qualifications for ministerial leaders, such as those found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9:
- living above reproach;
- exercising self-control;
- having the gift of teaching;
- living to be well thought of by outsiders;
- being a lover of goodness;
- living a life that is just, upright, spiritual, faithful, and dignified; and
- being a lover of hospitality.
In the Church of the Brethren, we call ministers through communal discernment and district processes. The calling process expects ministers to spend intentional time in prayer, scripture reading and conversation in their congregation and with other trusted friends and mentors as they listen for God's voice and direction.
The Church of the Brethren has two circles of credentialed ministry: the Commissioned Minister Circle and the Ordained Minister Circle.
A Commissioned Minister is called and credentialed for one specific ministry in one specific context, and this credential is not transferrable from one setting to another. Commissioned ministry exists because we value small congregations, and specific kinds of calls to ministry among God's people, and the rich processes of calling leadership from among the gathered body of a worshipping community.
An Ordained Minister is called and credentialed for broader ministries. This credential is designated for those ministers called to serve the church in ministries beyond on specific setting. Ordained ministry exists because we value connectedness between congregations and districts and we need broad and trans-local leadership for the denominational Church.
When someone experiences a call to ministry, they begin to walk through a calling process that engages their congregation, the district, and a special accountability group called a “calling cohort.” These gathered bodies affirm a person discerning a call toward ministry as a “licensed minister.” Licensing is not a credential, but is simply a recognition that a licensed minister is entering a process of discernment and education toward credentialed ministry.
See fuller explanations of each circle of ministry in the Ministerial Leadership 2014 paper.