Difference Between Pastor and Reverend

Pastor vs Reverend

Pastor and Reverend are two of the Christian honorifics and titles that show some difference between them in usage. Once you are inside a Church, how do you decide what the title to be used for a particular person belonging to the clergy? They are all men of religion, chosen to serve in different capacities in a church, aren’t they? But the nomenclature used for people being members of clergy keeps confusing an ordinary person. If you too do not know how to address people inside a church or how is a pastor different from the reverend, read on as this article attempts to highlight their differences.

There is a clear division of the faithfuls in Christianity between the clergy and laity. Men of religion or those chosen to serve the religion inside a church are referred to as clergy while the remaining faithfuls form the laity. In Roman Catholic Church, there is again a distinction within the clergy. Those clergies belonging to the lower order are simple Cleric while those belonging to the higher order are Priest.

Who is a Pastor?

Pastor is a title that is reserved for the leader of a church. It is a title used for a member of the clergy, who is in-charge of a congregation. The term pastor actually originated from the Latin word pastor that means shepherd. Pastor being the head of a church ensures that it runs in a proper way.

If the church is a small one and has just one priest, he is normally the pastor. If the church is large with many priests, the priest in charge is called the pastor. Priests belong to the higher order of clergy but one rung below the Bishops.

Difference Between Pastor and Reverend

Who is a Reverend?

Reverend is used just as an adjective to refer to any member of the clergy whether higher or low in the hierarchy. The term reverend is not a title like the term pastor. You simply refer a cleric as reverend when talking to him inside a church. But, you also include the name of the cleric when talking about him with another person inside or outside the church. Reverend is just to show respect to a member of clergy. You can call any priest inside a church as reverend.

As reverend is a form of address, it is possible for a priest or a pastor to be called as reverend. There are other qualifications that precede this adjective such as The Right Reverend or the Most Reverend. Using reverend when addressing a pastor or a priest just means showing respect to the person. This is akin to referring to Pope as His Holiness.

We mainly see the term reverend being used as a term to address the clergy of Christianity. However, clergy of other religions can also be called by using the term reverend. For example, the clergy of Buddhism are also addressed by using the term reverend.

 Pastor vs Reverend

Reverend N. H. Grimmett

What is the difference between Pastor and Reverend?

• Definitions of Pastor and Reverend:

• Pastor is the head of the church and when there is just one priest, he is the pastor too. In a large church with many priests, the priest who is in charge is called the pastor.

• Reverend is not a title that shows power in the church hierarchy but an adjective to show respect to a member of the clergy.

• Refer to Whom:

• You can use pastor to refer to the head priest of the church.

• You can use reverend for any ordained clergy or minister and certainly for the pastor too.

• Church Hierarchy:

• Pastor is a title that is used to show church hierarchy.

• Reverend is a term that does not show any church hierarchy. That is why you can use it without any problem to address any priest.

• Religion:

• We find pastors only in Christianity.

• However, the term reverend can also be used to refer to members of clergy in other religions too.

As you can see, both pastor and reverend are terms used to address the clergy. However, pastor is a term that can be used only for a certain type of priest. However, reverend can be used for any priest without a regard to his position in the church.

Images Courtesy: Pastor Dr. Arthur Schmidt (1866-1923)  and Reverend N. H. Grimmett via Wikicommons (Public Domain)