New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: What Does It Take to Become a Pastor?

Uganda is blessed with countless pastors. Many people have woken up overnight and declared themselves pastors, but what does it take to become the leader of a flock? Is it a special annointing from God or simply possessing the art of public speaking.

If you are stuck in traffic jam, especially around Entebbe Road, Jinja Road and Wandegeya roundabouts, there preachers giving sermons in the morning, lunch time and in the evening.

Regardless of their age, some of these preachers call themselves pastors and in most cases, when they are preaching, they point fingers.

Some harass people if they notice that you are not paying attention to what they are saying.

According to the Anglican and Catholic faith, it is not a piece of cake to become a bishop or archbishop. In fact, it takes years for one to become a priest or reverend. For example, in the Catholic faith, in order to become a bishop, you have to be an ordained priest.

This implies that you have passed through the seminary, and have attained academic papers in areas such as philosophy, theology or pastoral counselling and also have a good reputation as a priest.

Basically, a bishop is the chief executive and pastoral leader of a diocese. However, since there are so many preachers on the streets who claim to be pastors, what then does it take to become a pastor?

Judith Babirye, a pastor, argues that becoming a pastor is not one man's idea, though recently that is what it has become.

"In the born-again faith, you find that most people, especially young girls and boys preach and call themselves pastors even before getting relevant qualifications from Bible schools," she says.

Besides that, Babirye discloses that in the born-again faith, there is no authoritative board that apprehends a person if they misbehave. Most people just wake up and feel pastors.

In born-again circles, if a person is convinced that he is a pastor, it is very hard to change his mind because some do not know what leadership involves.

Babirye recommends born-agains to have a formal theological foundation like that of Anglicans and Catholics, which will give every person a better ethical understanding of the code of conduct, public speaking and behaviour.

This will also give pastors a better professional standing in the society.

"Some people go to Bible schools and become pastors, while others are just called by God to do a specific job. For example, I never went to a Bible school, but I am a pastor because I was called by God," says Wilson Bugembe, a pastor at Light the World Church, Nansana.

Bugembe further explains that when he started preaching, he was a believer, though at that time, people called him a pastor.

He says some people call street preachers pastors but if you stop and ask them, they will not introduce themselves as pastor so and so.

Bugembe says since he did not go to a Bible school, he does his best to learn a lot, read books, attend seminars and also ask questions to acquire more knowledge like people who went to the Bible schools.

Bugembe says if a person went to a Bible college, he or she will have a difference in understanding the source, depth and the original meaning of the scripture.

"However, if you did not go to a Bible school, and you truly lean and depend on the Holy Spirit without manipulating the scriptures, preach the truth without fear or favour, you can be as good as the people who went to the Bible schools," Bugembe says.

David Kigganda, a bishop at Christian Focus Ministries, says: "You have to be born-again to become a pastor. This implies that you have to be pastored and mentored by a trained pastor. For example, I am a bishop, and being a bishop means you guide pastors. In other words, a pastor of pastors regardless of how many they are."

He discloses that not all people who call themselves pastors are pastors; some are masqueraders who pretend to be pastors in order to ruin their reputation.

If you notice any preacher who is misbehaving, it is important to find out his name and the address of his church in order to know his whereabouts.

Kigganda says it is not only the Bible school which produces pastors, even some churches train pastors.

For example, Omega Healing Centre, Victory Christian Centre, among others. These churches have a ministry training programme.

"If the person has gone to a Bible school, he or she has acquired more knowledge and knows what he or she is talking about. Therefore, if you desire to be a minister, you go to ministry school or a Bible training centre where you can get some training especially in areas where your pastors never trained you. Basically, from the training school, you can be ordained to become a pastor," concludes Kigganda.

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