【June 2015 No.383】Ministerial Qualifications within the Kyodan

There are two levels in the Kyodan’s ministerial qualification process: “licensed preacher” and “ordained minister” (literally, “minister-in-full-standing”). Generally speaking, an “ordained minister” is called a “pastor,” and the administration of the sacraments of communion and baptism is limited to this level. So the process begins with a lay person first becoming a “licensed preacher” and then later becoming an “ordained minister.” The Kyodan’s Commission on Ministerial Qualifications is the entity that implements the examinations for both licensed preachers and ordained ministers.


One necessary qualification of eligibility to take the licensed preachers’ exam is to have been a Kyodan lay person for at least three years. Likewise, the applicant must be recommended by the pastor of his or her church or by the district (and to apply for ordained status, the person must also be recommended by her or his district). The specific exam that a candidate will take depends on which seminary that person has graduated from and whether all requirements have been met.


The details are listed in Article 3 of the ministerial examination regulations, but simply stated, those who have fulfilled all the requirements of Tokyo Union Theological Seminary Graduate School, Doshisha University Graduate School, or Kwansei Gakuin University Graduate School and have received a master of theology degree generally take the A-course exam. As they have been deemed to have completed all of the necessary course work the Kyodan requires, the exam consists of a sermon and testing on the Kyodan’s Constitution and Bylaws as well as on the legal status known as “Religious Juridical Person.”


The B-course exam is generally taken by candidates with undergraduate degrees from the theological departments of the three schools mentioned above or from other theological schools recognized by the Kyodan, including Japan Biblical Theological Seminary, Tokyo Bible Seminary, and The Theological Seminary for Rural Mission. Besides the items included in the A-course exam, exams on Old Testament theology, New Testament theology, Old Testament exegesis, and New Testament exegesis are added. Persons from other schools are considered on a case-by-case basis, with additional exams included, depending on the contents of the candidate’s studies.


There has been an increase recently in the number of people seeking ordination who have not attended a seminary or theological school; they are referred to as C-course candidates. Exams are given each year on specific aspects, and C-course candidates are required to pass all of these exams within a certain number of years after beginning the program.



Recently there has been an increase in the number of people seeking to be qualified as licensed preachers or ordained pastors who have not attended a seminary or theological school; they are referred to as C-course candidates. Exams are given each year on specific aspects, and C-course candidates are required to pass all of these exams within a certain number of years after beginning the program. The number of candidates for ordination as licensed preachers following graduation this spring (2015) is:

• 22 from Tokyo Union Theological Seminary Graduate


• 5 from Japan Biblical Theological Seminary,

• 5 from Tokyo Bible Seminary,

• 4 from Kwansei Gakuin University Graduate School,

• 2 from The Theological Seminary for Rural Mission

• 1 from Doshisha University Graduate School, and

• 3 from other schools.


A candidate in any of the three courses who has passed all the exams is then licensed at the district assembly where he or she is located and becomes a licensed preacher. After completion of at least two years of ministry, she or he can then take the exams for becoming an ordained minister. There are no separate courses for these exams, so with only a very few exceptions, all candidates take the same exams. The requirements consist of a sermon, tests on the Kyodan’s Constitution and Bylaws and on the legal status known as “Religious Juridical Person,” a theological dissertation, and another dissertation on systematic theology as well as tests on Old Testament theology, New Testament theology, Old Testament exegesis, New Testament exegesis, and church history.


Everyone hopes to pass all the exams on the first try, but of course, some are unable to do that. Passing grades on each section of the exams, however, are valid for three years, and since these exams are offered in both spring and fall every year, a candidate who does not pass the exam for a particular subject is able to try again when the tests are offered six months later.


An interview is also conducted at both levels of the ministerial qualification process, and this is an important opportunity for the candidates to reconfirm their calling. When a candidate has passed all exams for ordained status and been approved by the Kyodan, she or he is voted on at the district assembly and, through the laying on of hands, formally becomes an ordained minister—in other words, a new pastor.


When an ordained person from another denomination applies to transfer his/her credentials to the Kyodan, the Commission on Ministerial Qualifications considers factors such as whether or not the Kyodan has a mission agreement with the denomination the candidate is transferring from and the candidate’s particular training to determine her or his admission as a licensed preacher or as an ordained minister and whether exams in any particular area are necessary. A candidate deemed for some reason to lack proper qualifications at the time of application is recommended to pursue the licensed preacher ordination level by taking the necessary exams.


These, then, are the various ways that a person can become a pastor in the Kyodan. There are likely differences in the process for becoming a pastor in the various overseas churches, but hopefully this gives KNL readers a general idea of the Kyodan’s procedures. (Tr. TB)

—Hattori Osamu, secretary

Commission on Ministerial Qualifications

Pastor, Banzancho Church, Okayama

Nishi-Chugoku District



今回は「教団の牧師になるまでの過程」について報告いたします。日本基督教団の教師 は「補教師」と「正教師」に分けられます。一般的には「正教師」を「牧師」と称しますので、牧師になるまでの過程と言えば、信徒から 補教師になり、そして正教師になるという過程を経ることを意味します。教団には教師検定委員会が置かれており、教師検定委員会によっ て、「補教師検定試験」「正教師検定試験」が実施されます。

「補教師検定試験」を受けることができるのは、日本基督教団で3年以上信徒であるこ とが大前提となります。また、所属教会の教師の推薦および教区の推薦が必要になります(教区の推薦は正教師試験でも必要となりま す)。実際の試験にあたってはどの神学校を終了、または卒業しているかで違いがあります。詳しくは教師検定規則第3条にありますが、簡単に言えば、東京神学大学大学院、同志社大学大学院、関西学院大学大学院を終了した者 が、一般的にAコース受験者と呼ばれ、各々の神学校で必要な学びは終了しているとみなされ、試験科目は「説教」と「教 憲・教規および宗教法人法」が課せられます。

一般的にBコース受験者と呼ばれるのは、東京神学大学神学部、同志社大学神学部、関西学院大学神 学部、教団立神学校の旧専修科(東神大の前進の学校で今はないため今回英訳は省きます)、日本聖書神学校、農村伝道神学校、東京聖書 学校、または教団が認可した神学校の本科(今は存在しないので今回英訳は省きます)を卒業した者たちであり、先の試験 科目に加え、「旧約聖書神学」「新約聖書神学」「旧約聖書釈義」「新約聖書釈義」が課せられます。「認可神学校を出ていない人には、Bコースに準じて取得単位により、試験科目が課されます。(まだ翻訳されていません)」

近年、神学校を経ないで牧師になることを希望される受験者が増えてきましたが、これ ら受験者は、いわゆる「Cコース」受験者と呼ばれます。Cコース受験は、年次ごとに受験科目が定められており、決められた年数の間に全ての試験に合格することが求 められています。

ちなみにこの春の補教師検定試験における各神学校の卒業者、修了者の割合は最終学歴 で見た場合、東京神学大学大学院22名、同志社大学大学院1名、関西学院大学大学院4名、日本聖書神学校5名、農村伝道神学校2名、東京聖書学校4名、その他3名(その他の学校で認められる単位をとった人2名、Cコース1名)でした。

いずれかのコースによって合格した者が教団の承認を得た後、教区総会の議決を経て准 允を受け補教師となります。補教師は2年以上伝道に従事した後に正教師試験を受けることが可能になります。また補教師であり、キリス ト教系学校の教師として2年以上働いた者については教師検定委員会の認定によって、試験を受けることができるようになります。

正教師試験にはコースの違いはなく、ごく一部の例外を除けば、全ての者が同じ試験を 受けることになります。試験科目は「教憲・教規および宗教法人法」「説教」「神学論文」「組織神学論文」「旧約聖書神学」「新約聖書 神学」「旧約聖書釈義」「新約聖書釈義」「教会史」となります。

一度ですべてを合格することを誰もが願いますが、全員がすべて合格点に達するわけで はありません。しかし、合格点を得た科目については3年間有効であり、試験は秋と春に行われるので、不合格科目があった場合には、半年後から再試験に臨むこと ができます。

また、補教師試験、正教師試験ともに面接も試験として行われています。面接試験は召 命を問い直す貴重な試験となっていることを追記しておきます。

こうして正教師試験に合格した者が、教団の承認を得た後、教区総会の議決を経て按手 礼を領し、日本基督教団の正教師、すなわち牧師となります。

最後に他教派からの転入について短く記します。他教派からの教師転入の場合には、教団と宣教協約を結んで いるか否か、どのような経歴であるかを総合的に判断して転入審査を行います。その判断によって、補教師転入、正教師転入のいずれかと なり、どの科目を受験するかは、教師検定委員会が判断することになっています。教師転入が認められなかった場合には、補教師試験を受 けることから始めるように勧めています。

教団の牧師になるまでの過程についてはおおむねこのような過程を経ることになります。各国それぞれの教 団、教派で差はあると思いますが、今回、日本基督教団の状況を報告できましたことを幸いに思います。教師検定委員会書記 服部修