Reverend Vs. Minister Vs. Pastor (How are they Different)

Last week with my family, we celebrated my uncle’s new position in the church as pastor. Having been raised in a Christian family and ministered for fifteen years, it is not new to hear of such appointments.

During the celebration, some guests called him minister, others reverend. The three terms may seem similar, but there are differences between reverend vs. minister vs. pastor.

There are various titles that different churches give to their leaders. The three common titles reverend, minister, and pastor differ in meaning and function. A reverend is a title, not a position given, while a minister plays a specific role in the church, and a pastor is ordained by God, who leads a congregation through shepherding and bringing the Word to them.

You may still need clarification on the differences between the three positions. Worry not; the write-up below will inform you of all you need to know.

Understand and distinguish the roles of a reverend, pastor, and minister. You will be informed of any similarities and differences between these positions and titles.

Keep reading to learn this and much more.

Who is a minister?

According to various churches, a minister is a Christian given authority and ordained by God to carry out various religious functions.

Based on scripture, we see Paul serving as a minister to the Gentiles; Romans 15:16, “To be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”

In this context, we understand a minister to be someone who carries out religious services to followers of Christ guided by God.

According to Christian Leaders Alliance, a minister is someone who evangelizes to build up the body of Christ. Therefore, we can conclude the meaning of a minister is a person ordained by God to take His Word to the people through evangelism.

Who is a reverend?

Based on scripture, reverend refers to a holy and sanctified being. The term reverend appears only once in the King James version.

In Psalm 111:9, the term reverend refers to the mightiness and holiness of the name of God. The bible says, “He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name!”

Sadly, what we have going on in religious institutions are the leaders misappropriating the term reverend. Some leaders do not match the meaning of reverend as the Bible implies, which refers to holiness and sacredness.

Some Christian leaders and followers do not agree with the reverend title as they consider it self-proclaimed.

In 2 Thessalonians 2:4, the verse suggests that it is wrong for people to exalt themselves, which has always brought the debate on using the term reverend: “Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.”

Who is a pastor?

According to scripture, it implies that a pastor is one who teaches and guides followers of Christ into living according to the Word.

Paul writes in Ephesians 4:11, “And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors, and teachers.” In this verse, we get the mention of the pastor chosen by God.

And as the scripture proceeds in verse twelve, To equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ.

Here we get insight into the description of a pastor, which the scripture suggests is a person who prepares and equips followers of Christ with spiritual leadership.

Reverend Vs. Minister Vs. Pastor: How are their roles different?

Reverend Vs. Minister Vs. Pastor 
Reverend Vs. Minister Vs. Pastor. Image source: Pinterest

Each of the three positions carries out different roles. However, some denominations may give similar duties to reverends, ministers, and pastors.

Let’s look into the different functions starting with a pastor.

The scripture in different verses, Ephesians 4:11 and Timothy 1:9, imply a pastor’s role as teaching the Word of God to followers of Christ. Pastors are in charge of spiritual leadership in a church.

They prepare weekly sermons that they deliver to congregants and interpret Biblical sermons.

Pastors may counsel their church members since being right in spirit involves emotional and psychological aspects. Also, pastors conduct worship services such as leading in praise sessions.

Outside preaching, pastors conduct special services such as baptism, officiating weddings, and funerals.

On the other hand, there is a limit on the duties of ministers. Through ordination, ministers lead people to live in accordance with the will of God.

They teach the Word of God and lead in worship.

Also, they offer guidance outside the religious scope and teach people how to live according to God’s ways.

Reverends’ main roles are to teach the Word through delivering sermons. They lead congregants in prayer. Also, they offer counsel to church members on how to lead a purposeful life according to God’s teachings.

In certain denominations, they may assign reverends duties of overseeing religious events.

Are there any similarities between Reverend, Minister, and Pastor?

There are similarities between a reverend, minister, and pastor, especially in the roles. First, the three titles are linked through service to God. A pastor, minister, and reverend work in fulfilling God’s Word.

They administer and teach the Word to His people by interpreting biblical scripture and making it understandable to any follower of Christ.

These titles represent some of the highest ranks in the church. If you worship in a church, you can admit that the congregants highly regard those holding these positions.

In most churches, the minister and pastor carry out similar tasks except for a few, such as officiating certain events such as baptisms and weddings.

Comparison summary between Reverend, Minister, and Pastor

Parameter of comparison





A church leader ordained to carry out various duties of the church.

A person ordained to lead in worship and administer evangelical duties.

A title given to a person who carries out spiritual leadership in a church.


The name pastor is a noun

Minister is a noun

Reverend is an adjective


A pastor may be an occupation or function

A minister may be a function or occupation

Reverend is better described as a high title.


  • Overall church leader
  • Preaching
  • Conducting worship and prayer
  • Counseling of church members
  • Officiate special services such as baptisms, officiating weddings, and funerals.
  • Leads the church in worship.
  • Deliver sermons
  • Interpret Biblical scripture
  • Spiritual leadership and bringing people into deeper faith.
  • Lead in worship and prayer.
  • Prepare sermons and spiritual talks.
  • Teaching the Word of God.
  • Work with other leaders in giving counsel to the congregants.

Religion Type

The term pastor is mostly present in the Christian religion

Different religions embrace the use of the term minister

Apart from Christians, other religions use the term reverend to refer to members of the clergy


A pastor does not indicate hierarchy in the church

A minister does not distinguish hierarchy in the church

Reverend sets apart levels of leadership in a church.


Latin origin from the 14th century.

Latin origin from the 15th century.

French origin from the 15th century.

Person/ Title




Where did the names pastor, minister, and reverend come from?

There are assumptions that the terms minister, pastor, and reverend come from the Bible. These terms appear in the scripture but in ways that don’t define their current roles.

For instance, the term reverend appears in Psalm 111:9, referring to God’s name. Some believe it comes from the term reverence.

In fourteen verses in the King James Bible version, the noun reverence appears to mean sacredness or holiness. In Hebrews 12:28, reverence implies the kind of worship and service the scripture describes that should be done to our Father.

The Lord’s sanctuary is to be reverenced, as implied in the scripture in Leviticus 19:30, 26:2, which means to be kept holy and respected. Also, in Mark 12:6, Luke 20:13, and Mathew 21:37, we get another meaning of reverence that refers to Jesus Christ.

The Word Reverend came into the world from a Latin name, ‘reverendus.’ It refers to the person who is to receive reverence which is respect. Christians began using the term to refer to church leaders in the 15th century.

Over the years, the term stuck and was given to clergypersons who performed specific roles in the church.

Pastor has a Latin origin from the word ‘pastor,’ which refers to shepherd. There have been debates arguing that the term pastor, as it appears in Ephesians 4:11, refers to gifts and not the role as people perceive it to be: “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers.”

Texas Baptists Committed implies that the term pastor appears in the Bible as a verb and compares a pastor to mean shepherd. In the 15th century, Christians began using the title pastor, referring to a church leader.

The title has since been used and given through ordination.

Regarding minister, it shares a similar Latin origin with the word pastor. However, it came to be later in the 15th century as it became popular among Christians who gave it to their church leaders.

In many denominations, such as Methodist, Baptist, and Calvinist, the term minister was given to people who have been ordained. Whereas in some, those referred to ministers would-be clergy members.

The term minister is common outside religious settings, as those holding high seats in governance may be referred to as ministers.

What do pastors, ministers, and reverends do today?

Reverend Vs. Minister Vs. Pastor
What do pastors, ministers, and reverends do today? Image source: Pixabay

In the current day, pastors, ministers, and reverends play a huge role in the spiritual leadership of churches of different denominations.

First, in most churches, to acquire either of the three positions and titles, one has to be ordained. From there, they carry out various roles in the church.

Pastors’ Job Descriptions

Pastors are the primary leaders in most churches. They are in charge of the church’s leadership, overseeing other leaders. The main role of a pastor in current churches is to administer the Word of God to believers of Christ.

Sometimes, pastors step in and lead in praise and worship.

The world has many challenges, from societal issues to looming hazards, and pastors counsel and guides their people during such periods. As church leaders, pastors officiate weddings and burial ceremonies and carry out baptisms for their church members.

Unlike before, many denominations allow both genders to be pastors.

Ministers’ Job Descriptions

Ministers have specific roles. They mostly handle evangelical duties, spreading the Word of God. You may know that not all denominations, such as Catholics, have ministers.

As for the other fraction, ministers also provide counsel and guidance to church members. They get this title and position through ordination.

Reverends’ Job Descriptions

There is not much difference between ministers and pastors. However, reverends are different. These days most denominations ordain reverends, unlike before when it was only a title.

Reverends preach and deliver sermons to congregants. Also, the term reverend may refer to pastor or minister, depending on the church.

1 Timothy 1:7, “Desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make assertions.” Sadly, in agreement with the verse, these titles have been misused.

Also, these titles may have been given to those who may not have the vision of spreading the Word of God.

In Isaiah 42:8, the scripture implies that Christians should refrain from giving glory and honor to church leaders as frequently done in present denominations. Rather, all glory is to God; they are just carriers and shepherds of the Word.

Currently, the world is run by greed for power and wealth, and some with these positions in churches use it to their advantage.

Despite the helpers God has ordained to spread the Word, Mathew 23:8 reminds us that He remains the main teacher. We should give little importance to any of these leaders as they are equal to us.

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