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What Do You Call Your "Pastor"?

from Thom Rainer:

...As local congregations across America continue to experience significant changes, we are seeing the more common term of “pastor” declining in favor of more expanded, or even totally different, terms. And I am not even speaking of all the others who serve on a church staff. The multiple terms for those different roles seem unlimited.

If you spent your entire life in one denomination or fellowship, you may think the names used for church staff are uniform. The evidence, though, points to much variety...

....let’s take a moment and look at the different names for the leader of a congregation. 

  • Pastor – still the most common term, at least for now.
  • Senior pastor – typically is used when the church has more than one minister or pastor on staff. The senior pastor oversees the other staff members.
  • Lead pastor – most of the time this phrase is used synonymously with senior pastor.
  • Teaching pastor – in some churches, the name refers to someone who preaches or teaches in a primary worship service, but who is not the senior pastor. In other cases it is synonymous with senior pastor.
  • Preaching pastor – same as teaching pastor
  • Teaching elder – same as teaching pastor in the context of a plurality of leadership.
  • Preaching elder – pretty much the same as teaching elder.
  • Vision pastor – already located this term in several churches; in all cases it is synonymous with senior pastor.
  • Campus pastor – typically used in churches that have more than one location. This person has leadership over one of those locations.
  • Minister – see pastor.
  • Teaching minister – see teaching pastor.
  • Preaching minister – see preaching pastor.
  • Bishop – in some cases it is synonymous with senior pastor; in other cases it is used to describe a leader over pastors in multiple congregations.
Any pastoral names/titles missing?  Does the title we use to identify the "pastor" really matter? Or does it?


I dont see it as mattering that much. For me I am the Senior Minister/Senior Pastor depending on who you talk to as the words are used interchangeably.

Many of our folks still address me as Brother Mark but when ever someone asks me what to call me I always tell them that Mark has worked well my whole life so I don't see the need to Change it.

I had the best compliment last week when a parent told me she tried to correct her daughter for calling me Mark and the Daughter replied "He told me I could call him Mark." The parent told the daughter that if I said she could then she could, I explained to the parent when I was told this that I choose to have the kids call me by my first name because I want to be accessible to them and not some scary authority figure.

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