A pastor is an official person within a Protestant group of people, and related to the positions of priest or bishop within the Anglican, Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The word itself is derived from the Latin word _la. "pastor" which means shepherd. The term pastor is also related to the role of elder within the New Testament, but is not synonymous with the biblical understanding of minister.

The usage of "pastor" comes from its use in the Bible. In the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament), the Hebrew word _he. רעה Unicode|("raʿah") is used. The word is used 173 times and can describe the feeding of sheep as in Genesis 29:7 or the spiritual feeding of human beings as in Jeremiah 3:15, "And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding" (KJV).

In the New Testament, the Greek word polytonic|ποιμήν ("poimēn") is used and is normally translated "pastor" or "shepherd". The word is used 18 times in the New Testament. For example, Ephesians 4:11, "And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastor(s) and teachers" (KJV). Jesus also called himself the "Good Shepherd" in John 10:11.

Sometimes "pastor" was used in the New Testament as a reference to presbyters, but it was used mostly as a title for Bishops (episkopos). For example, in Acts 20:17, the Apostle Paul summons the "elders" of the church in Ephesus to give a last discourse to them; in the process, in Acts 20:28, he tells them that the Holy Spirit has made them "bishops", and that their job is to "shepherd" their church. Peter uses much the same language in 1 Peter 5:1-2, telling the "elders" among his readers that they are to "shepherd" not "lord over" the flock in their charge, acting as "bishops" willingly.

Paul also gives a list of characteristics that men serving in this capacity ought to possess. In 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Paul gives a list for those serving as "shepherds". In Titus 1:5-9, a remarkably similar list is given, this time directed to "elders" which may lead some to believe them to be the same.

Arguably from the earliest centuries of Christian history, the Church had three orders which were considered divinely ordained: Bishops, Priests (or Presbyters) and deacons. Each was only considered authoritative and able to administer the Sacraments if one had valid apostolic succession (i.e., traceable lineage of ordinations back to the original bishops, the Apostles themselves). However, Protestant communities since the reformation generally disregard this practice, or deny the existence of apostolic succession.

Historical usage

Around 400 AD, Saint Augustine, a famous North African bishop, 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.cite web | title=Augustine, Sermo CCIX | url= | accessdate=2006-08-08]

Current usage

In 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, and, therefore, reject the use of the term "pastor" for their leaders. These include some parts of the Mennonite, Methodist, Presbyterian, American Churches of Christ, the Assemblies of God, and Baptist traditions.

The use of the term "pastor" to refer to the common Protestant title of modern times dates to the days of John Calvin and Huldrych Zwingli. Both men, and other Reformers seem to have revived the term to replace the Catholic priest in the minds of their followers, although the Pastor was still considered separate from the board of presbyters. 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 in America during the 1800s, such as the Disciples of Christ and the Churches of Christ.

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

In Scandinavian Lutheran national Churches, ordained clergy are called also priests.Fact|date=September 2008

In some churches,Clarifyme|date=October 2008 the senior pastor's spouse is also called "pastor" by the congregation.Fact|date=October 2008

Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican

Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican/Episcopalian churches typically refer to their local church leaders as parish priests (although the term "pastor" may also be used, particularly in North America). However, Anglican/Episcopalian Churches rarely use the term "pastor", preferring the words rector and priest.

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

Leaving the Ministry

Observers like clergy counselor Rowland Croucher suggest that the numbers of 'ex-pastors roughly equal that of serving clergy throughout the Western world. [ [ How Many Ex-Pastors? ] ] This would mean there is a six-figure number of these people. And more pastors and priests may be leaving parish ministry than are lost to most other professions. [ [ Ex-pastors ] ] Until the early 1990s there were very few cross-denominational ministries serving this group. In his research, which he started towards a PhD, Croucher collected data-based questionnaires of ministers of Protestant denominations. [Croucher, R. (1991). 'Ex-Pastors: What Happens When Clergy Leave Parish Ministry?' Unpublished manuscript. Melbourne: Monash University.] [Croucher, R. (1991b). Questionnaire for Ex Pastors. Accessible at [] ] [Croucher, R. and S. Allgate (1994). ‘Why Australian Pastors Quit Parish Ministry.’ Pointers: Bulletin of the Christian Research Association, 4(1, March).]

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. [Jud, G. J., E. W. Mills and G. W. Burch (1970). Ex-Pastors: Why Men Leave the Parish Ministry. Philadelphia: Pilgrim Press.] Other writers have explored ex-pastors within particular denominations [Parer, M. S. and A. Peterson (1971). Prophets and Losses in the Priesthood: In Quest of the Future Ministry. Sydney: Alella Books.] [Rice, D. (1992). Shattered Vows: Priests Who Leave. New York: Triumph Books. Schon, D. A. (1983). The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. New York: Basic.] [Ballis, P. H. (1999). Leaving the Adventist Ministry: A Study of the Process of Exiting. Westport, CT: Praeger.] and/or focused on particular related issues such as burnout, [Kaldor, P. and R. Bullpitt (2001). Burnout in Church Leaders. Adelaide: Openbook Publishers.] [Evers, W. and W. Tomic (2003). ‘Burnout among Dutch Reformed Pastors.’ Journal of Psychology and Theology 31: 329-338.] stress, [Pryor, R. J. (1982). High Calling, High Stress: The Vocational Needs of Ministers, an Overview & Bibliography. Bedford Park, SA: AASR.] [Pryor, R.J. (1986). At Cross Purposes: Stress and Support in the Ministry of the Wounded Healer. Newtown, VIC: Neptune Press.] marital stress, [Merrill, D. (1985). Clergy Couples in Crisis: The Impact of Stress on Pastoral Marriages. Carol Stream, IL: Word.] sexual abuse, [Ormerod, N. (1995). When Ministers Sin: Sexual Abuse in the Churches. Alexandria, NSW: Millennium Books.] celibacy, [Della Cava, F. A. (1975). ‘Becoming an Ex-Priest: The Process of Leaving a High Commitment Status.’ Sociological Inquiry 45: 41-49.] loneliness, [Whetham, P. and L. (2000). Hard to Be Holy: Unravelling the Roles and Relationships of Church Leaders. Adelaide, SA: Openbook Publishers.] organisational factors, [Seidler, J. (1979). ‘Priest Resignations in a Lazy Monopoly.’ American Sociological Review 44: 763-783.] [Knust, J. L. (1993). ‘A System Malfunction: Role Conflict and the Minister.’ Journal of Psychology and Christianity 12(3): 205-213.] and conflict. [Dempsey, K. (1983). Conflict and Decline: Ministers and Laymen in an Australian Country Town. North Ryde: Methuen.] 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. [Blaikie, N. W. H. (1979). The Plight of the Australian Clergy: To Convert, Care or Challenge? St Lucia: University of Queensland.]

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. [Ebaugh, H. R. F. (1988). Becoming an Ex: The Process of Role Exit. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.] 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. [Kaldor and Bullpitt (2001), p. 13]

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. [Pohly, K. (2001). The Ministry of Supervision: Transforming the Rough Places. Franklin, TN: Providence House, pp. 107-108.] [Paver, J. E. (2006). Theological Reflection and Education for Ministry: The Search for Integration in Theology. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, pp. 81-100.] Supervision that includes an element of peer-group work has the potential to facilitate collaborative learning, enhanced group dynamic skills and ongoing supportive networks. [Skaggs, B. (1989). Group Supervision. In The Supervision of Pastoral Care. Ed. D. A. Steere. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, pp. 172-182.] 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.

ee also

*Minister of religion
*Pastoral care
*Pastoral counseling
*Herr Pastor


*cite book
author=Bercot, David W.
title=Will The Real Heretics Please Stand Up
id=ISBN 0-924722-00-2
publisher=Scroll Publishing

*cite book | author=Dowly, Tim (ed.)
title=The History of Christianity
id=ISBN 0-7459-1625-2
publisher=Lion Publishing


External links

* [ New Advent] . The Catholic Encyclopedia's entry on the term "pastor".
* [ Gumpoint] . A Pentecostal view on the term "pastor".
* [ 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.
* [ Pastor's Role] . A collection of articles about the role of a pastor in a church.
* [ Pastoral Administration] . Articles about a pastor's role as administrator of a church.
* [ Pastor's Area of] . Articles to help the pastor in the roles of preacher, missionary, leader, shepherd, and person.

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