Pastor
Overview
The word pastor usually refers to an ordained leader of a Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 congregation. When used as an ecclesiastical styling or title, this role may be abbreviated to "Pr
PR
PR commonly stands for* Public relations, a field concerned with maintaining public image* Puerto Rico* Proportional representation, a property of some voting systemsPR, P...

." or often "Ps".

In some countries the term is used in relation to Protestant churches. It can also be used in reference to priest
Priest
A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

s and bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

s within the Catholic
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox churches. The word itself is derived from the Latin word which means "shepherd
Shepherd
A shepherd is a person who tends, feeds or guards flocks of sheep.- Origins :Shepherding is one of the oldest occupations, beginning some 6,000 years ago in Asia Minor. Sheep were kept for their milk, meat and especially their wool...

".
Encyclopedia
The word pastor usually refers to an ordained leader of a Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 congregation. When used as an ecclesiastical styling or title, this role may be abbreviated to "Pr
PR
PR commonly stands for* Public relations, a field concerned with maintaining public image* Puerto Rico* Proportional representation, a property of some voting systemsPR, P...

." or often "Ps".

In some countries the term is used in relation to Protestant churches. It can also be used in reference to priest
Priest
A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

s and bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

s within the Catholic
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox churches. The word itself is derived from the Latin word which means "shepherd
Shepherd
A shepherd is a person who tends, feeds or guards flocks of sheep.- Origins :Shepherding is one of the oldest occupations, beginning some 6,000 years ago in Asia Minor. Sheep were kept for their milk, meat and especially their wool...

". The term "pastor" is also related to the role of elder
Elder (Christianity)
An elder in Christianity is a person valued for his wisdom who accordingly holds a particular position of responsibility in a Christian group. In some Christian traditions an elder is a clergy person who usually serves a local church or churches and who has been ordained to a ministry of Word,...

 within the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

, but is not synonymous with the biblical understanding of minister.

Present-day usage of the word is rooted in the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

. The Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

 (or Old Testament) uses the Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

 word . It is mentioned 173 times and describes the feeding of sheep, as in Genesis 29:7, or the spiritual feeding of human beings, as in Jeremiah
Book of Jeremiah
The Book of Jeremiah is the second of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, following the book of Isaiah and preceding Ezekiel and the Book of the Twelve....

 3:15, "Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding" (NASB
New American Standard Bible
The New American Standard Bible , also informally called New American Standard Version , is an English translation of the Bible....

).
In the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

, the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 noun (poimēn) and verb (poimaino) are usually translated shepherd or to shepherd. The two words are used a total of 29 times in the New Testament, most frequently referring to Jesus. For example, Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 called himself the "Good Shepherd" in John
Gospel of John
The Gospel According to John , commonly referred to as the Gospel of John or simply John, and often referred to in New Testament scholarship as the Fourth Gospel, is an account of the public ministry of Jesus...

 10:11. The same words are used in familiar Christmas
Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

 story (Luke
Gospel of Luke
The Gospel According to Luke , commonly shortened to the Gospel of Luke or simply Luke, is the third and longest of the four canonical Gospels. This synoptic gospel is an account of the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. It details his story from the events of his birth to his Ascension.The...

 2) referring to literal shepherds.

In five New Testament passages though, the words are referring to church workers.
  • John
    Gospel of John
    The Gospel According to John , commonly referred to as the Gospel of John or simply John, and often referred to in New Testament scholarship as the Fourth Gospel, is an account of the public ministry of Jesus...

     21:16 - Jesus told Peter: "Shepherd My sheep" (NASB)
  • Acts
    Acts of the Apostles
    The Acts of the Apostles , usually referred to simply as Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; Acts outlines the history of the Apostolic Age...

     20:17 - the Apostle Paul
    Paul of Tarsus
    Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

     summons the elders
    Elder (Christianity)
    An elder in Christianity is a person valued for his wisdom who accordingly holds a particular position of responsibility in a Christian group. In some Christian traditions an elder is a clergy person who usually serves a local church or churches and who has been ordained to a ministry of Word,...

    or presbyters of the church in Ephesus
    Ephesus
    Ephesus was an ancient Greek city, and later a major Roman city, on the west coast of Asia Minor, near present-day Selçuk, Izmir Province, Turkey. It was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League during the Classical Greek era...

     to give a last discourse to them; in the process, in Acts 20:28, he tells them that the Holy Spirit
    Holy Spirit
    Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

     has made them bishops, and that their job is to shepherd the flock of God among them.
  • 1 Corinthians 9:7 - Paul says, of himself and the apostles: "who tends a flock and does not use the milk of the flock?" (NASB)
  • Ephesians 4:11 - Paul wrote "And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers" (NASB)
  • 1 Peter
    First Epistle of Peter
    The First Epistle of Peter, usually referred to simply as First Peter and often written 1 Peter, is a book of the New Testament. The author claims to be Saint Peter the apostle, and the epistle was traditionally held to have been written during his time as bishop of Rome or Bishop of Antioch,...

     5:1-2 - Peter tells the elders among his readers that they are to, "shepherd the flock of God among you" (NASB)


Arguably from the earliest centuries of Christian history, the church had three orders which were considered divinely ordained: bishops, priests and deacons. Each was only considered authoritative and able to administer the sacraments if one had valid apostolic succession
Apostolic Succession
Apostolic succession is a doctrine, held by some Christian denominations, which asserts that the chosen successors of the Twelve Apostles, from the first century to the present day, have inherited the spiritual, ecclesiastical and sacramental authority, power, and responsibility that were...

 (i.e., traceable lineage of ordinations back to the original bishops, the Apostles themselves). However, Protestant communities since the Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 generally understood the "apostolic" nature of ordained ministry as meaning subscription to the apostolic teaching, that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, proclaimed in the New Testament Bible and hold the notion of a literal "apostolic succession" as extrabiblical if not spurious.

Historical usage

Around 400 AD, Saint Augustine
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

, a prominent Roman
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

, described a pastor's job:
Disturbers are to be rebuked, the low-spirited to be encouraged, the infirm to be supported, objectors confuted, the treacherous guarded against, the unskilled taught, the lazy aroused, the contentious restrained, the haughty repressed, litigants pacified, the poor relieved, the oppressed liberated, the good approved, the evil borne with, and all are to be loved.

Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican

Roman Catholic, Orthodox
Orthodox Christianity
The term Orthodox Christianity may refer to:* the Eastern Orthodox Church and its various geographical subdivisions...

 and Anglican churches typically refer to their local church leaders as "parish
Parish
A parish is a territorial unit historically under the pastoral care and clerical jurisdiction of one parish priest, who might be assisted in his pastoral duties by a curate or curates - also priests but not the parish priest - from a more or less central parish church with its associated organization...

 priests". The term pastor may be used, in a more casual way, particularly in North America. However, Anglican churches do not formally use the term "pastor"; rather, they frequently use the terms "rector
Rector
The word rector has a number of different meanings; it is widely used to refer to an academic, religious or political administrator...

" or "vicar
Vicar
In the broadest sense, a vicar is a representative, deputy or substitute; anyone acting "in the person of" or agent for a superior . In this sense, the title is comparable to lieutenant...

" as alternatives to "parish priest".

Each Catholic parish is normally entrusted to the care of a single pastor, who must be a priest according to the 1983 Code of Canon Law. The associate pastor is called a parochial vicar and also must be a priest. In U.S. Catholic parishes, a lay ecclesial minister
Lay Ecclesial Ministry
Lay ecclesial ministry is the term adopted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to identify the relatively new category of pastoral ministers in the Catholic Church who serve the Church but are not ordained...

 who fulfills many of the non-sacramental functions of an associate pastor is often called a "pastoral associate", "parish minister", or "pastoral assistant".

A bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

 is canonically given full-fledged pastoral responsibilities within his diocese, and a priest is held to pastoral obedience with regards to his bishop. The term universal pastor refers to the pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

, per the declaration Pastor aeternus of the First Vatican Council.

Jesus Christ is commonly referred to as the "Good Shepherd" or "Good Pastor", the former a phrase found in the Gospels.

Protestantism

Many Protestants use the term pastor as a title (e.g., Pastor Smith) or as a job title (like Senior Pastor or Worship Pastor). Some Protestants contend that utilizing the appellation of pastor to refer to an ordained minister contradicts the Protestant doctrine of the priesthood of all believers
Priesthood of all believers
The universal priesthood or the priesthood of all believers, as it would come to be known in the present day, is a Christian doctrine believed to be derived from several passages of the New Testament...

. United Methodist, for example, ordain to the office of deacon and elder; each of whom can use the title of pastor depending upon their job description. The use of the term "pastor" can also be regional in some denominations, including some parts of the Methodist, Presbyterian, Seventh-day Adventist, American Churches of Christ, and Baptist
Baptist
Baptists comprise a group of Christian denominations and churches that subscribe to a doctrine that baptism should be performed only for professing believers , and that it must be done by immersion...

 traditions.

The use of the term pastor to refer to the common Protestant title of modern times dates to the days of John Calvin
John Calvin
John Calvin was an influential French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism. Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church around 1530...

 and Huldrych Zwingli
Huldrych Zwingli
Ulrich Zwingli was a leader of the Reformation in Switzerland. Born during a time of emerging Swiss patriotism and increasing criticism of the Swiss mercenary system, he attended the University of Vienna and the University of Basel, a scholarly centre of humanism...

. Both men, and other Reformers
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

, seem to have revived the term to replace the Catholic priest
Priest
A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

 in the minds of their followers. The pastor was considered to have a role separate from the board of presbyter
Presbyter
Presbyter in the New Testament refers to a leader in local Christian congregations, then a synonym of episkopos...

s. Few Protestant groups today still view the pastor, bishop, and elder as synonymous terms or offices; many who do are descended from the Restoration Movement
Restoration Movement
The Restoration Movement is a Christian movement that began on the American frontier during the Second Great Awakening of the early 19th century...

 in America during the 19th century, such as the Disciples of Christ and the Churches of Christ
Church of Christ
Churches of Christ are autonomous Christian congregations associated with one another through common beliefs and practices. They seek to base doctrine and practice on the Bible alone, and seek to be New Testament congregations as originally established by the authority of Christ. Historically,...

.

The term pastor is sometimes used for missionaries in developed countries to avoid offending those people in industrialized countries who may think that missionaries go only to less developed countries.

In some Lutheran
Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

 churches, ordained clergy are called priest
Priest
A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

s, while in others the term pastor is preferred.

Leaving the ordained ministry

Observers such as clergy
Clergy
Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. A clergyman, churchman or cleric is a member of the clergy, especially one who is a priest, preacher, pastor, or other religious professional....

 counselor
Christian counseling
Christian counseling is counseling which draws upon psychology and Christian teaching. Efforts to combine counseling with Christian or other religious perspectives or approaches are sometimes called "integration."...

 Rowland Croucher
Rowland Croucher
Rowland Croucher is an Australian pastor, counsellor and author.Brought up in the Open Brethren in Sydney, following a five-year career as a high-school teacher, Croucher began training in 1964 for the Baptist ministry in New South Wales...

 suggest that the numbers of "ex-pastors" roughly equals that of serving clergy throughout the Western world. This would mean people who have left the ministry number in the six-figures. More pastors and priests may be leaving parish ministry than are lost to most other professions. Until the early 1990s, there were few cross-denominational ministries serving this group. Croucher collected data-based questionnaires of ministers of Protestant denominations.

The first writers to explore this research area used questionnaire surveys to look at factors such as age, education and family relationships as contributing factors to decisions to leave the ministry. Other writers have explored ex-pastors within particular denominations and/or focused on particular related issues such as burnout
Burnout (psychology)
Burnout is a psychological term for the experience of long-term exhaustion and diminished interest. Research indicates general practitioners have the highest proportion of burnout cases; according to a recent Dutch study in Psychological Reports, no less than 40% of these experienced high levels of...

, stress
Stress (medicine)
Stress is a term in psychology and biology, borrowed from physics and engineering and first used in the biological context in the 1930s, which has in more recent decades become commonly used in popular parlance...

, marital stress, sexual abuse
Sexual abuse
Sexual abuse, also referred to as molestation, is the forcing of undesired sexual behavior by one person upon another. When that force is immediate, of short duration, or infrequent, it is called sexual assault. The offender is referred to as a sexual abuser or molester...

, celibacy, loneliness, organisational factors, and conflict. One common cause of conflict occurs when differing approaches to ministry compete in the minds of clergy, congregation and community, as Norman Blaikie found in Australian clergy from six Protestant denominations.

For some of the estimated 10,000 ex-pastors from Australian Protestant churches, their transition was a normal mid-career move, voluntarily entered into like many of the role exits described in the classic study by sociologist (and ex-nun) Helen Ebaugh. Yet for many the transition out of parish ministry was premature. Clergy, churches and training bodies need a solid basis for understanding and action in order to reduce the attrition rate and enhance clergy, congregational and community health. Some denominations experience particularly high rates of attrition.

Key recommendations to help alleviate stress in clergy exit situations may revolve around the development of professional supervision and continuing education. Professional supervision for ministry is a method of reflecting critically on ministry as a way of growing in self-awareness, cultural and social awareness, ministry competence and theological reflection skills. Supervision that includes an element of peer group
Peer group
A peer group is a social group consisting of humans. Peer groups are an informal primary group of people who share a similar or equal status and who are usually of roughly the same age, tended to travel around and interact within the social aggregate Members of a particular peer group often have...

 work has the potential to facilitate collaborative learning, enhanced group dynamic skills and ongoing supportive networks. Some denominations are encouraging their clergy to engage in professional supervision, as part of their mandatory requirement of professional standards, but the requirements and standards of clergy supervision are often haphazard or absent.

See also

  • Elder
    Elder (Christianity)
    An elder in Christianity is a person valued for his wisdom who accordingly holds a particular position of responsibility in a Christian group. In some Christian traditions an elder is a clergy person who usually serves a local church or churches and who has been ordained to a ministry of Word,...

  • Preacher
    Preacher
    Preacher is a term for someone who preaches sermons or gives homilies. A preacher is distinct from a theologian by focusing on the communication rather than the development of doctrine. Others see preaching and theology as being intertwined...

  • Clergy
    Clergy
    Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. A clergyman, churchman or cleric is a member of the clergy, especially one who is a priest, preacher, pastor, or other religious professional....

  • Minister of religion
    Minister of religion
    In Christian churches, a minister is someone who is authorized by a church or religious organization to perform functions such as teaching of beliefs; leading services such as weddings, baptisms or funerals; or otherwise providing spiritual guidance to the community...

  • Pastoral care
    Pastoral care
    Pastoral care is the ministry of care and counseling provided by pastors, chaplains and other religious leaders to members of their church or congregation, or to persons of all faiths and none within institutional settings. This can range anywhere from home visitation to formal counseling provided...

  • Pastoral counseling
    Pastoral counseling
    Pastoral counseling is a branch of counseling in which psychologically trained ministers, rabbis, priests and other persons provide therapy services...

  • Rabbi
    Rabbi
    In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. This title derives from the Hebrew word רבי , meaning "My Master" , which is the way a student would address a master of Torah...

  • Imam
    Imam
    An imam is an Islamic leadership position, often the worship leader of a mosque and the Muslim community. Similar to spiritual leaders, the imam is the one who leads Islamic worship services. More often, the community turns to the mosque imam if they have a religious question...

  • Murshid
    Murshid
    Murshid is Arabic for "guide" or "teacher". Particularly in Sufism it refers to a Sufi teacher. The term is used by other branches of Islam as well, e.g. by the Nizaris, the main school of Ismā‘īlī Shiites....

  • Herr Pastor
    Herr Pastor
    Herr Pastor is a stereotypical authoritarian pastor in an Ethnic German congregation. Herr Pastor, literally "Mister Pastor" in German, was a title often used even in English-speaking congregations with German heritage, such as Lutheran or Evangelical and Reformed Church.The leadership style of the...


External links

  • NewAdvent.org, The Catholic Encyclopedia's entry on the term pastor.
  • Gumpoint.com, A Pentecostal view on the term pastor.
  • ChristianityToday.com, "Personal Life of a Pastor". The personal life of pastors is often overlooked by their church. This link directs you to a collection of resources about keeping a pastor's personal life vibrant.
  • ChristianityToday.com, Pastoral Administration. Articles about a pastor's role as administrator of a church.
  • LifeWay.com, Articles to help the pastor in the roles of preacher, missionary, leader, shepherd, and person.
  • PaganChristianity.net, George Barna explores the roots of the modern pastorate and some of its effects.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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