Reverend vs Pastor: Differences, Similarities & Definitions

There are many different roles that a reverend or pastor can play in the lives of believers. The difference between these two can be a little tricky to understand, especially if you have never thought about it.

This article will attempt to help you understand the difference between a reverend and a pastor, why having one is important for your church, and how those roles fit together.

Who is a reverend?

Reverend is a respectable title. It’s a title that clergy members use to describe who they are without necessarily outlining their specific duties or interests.

A reverend might oversee a church, act as its administrator, deliver sermons to congregations, instruct, or carry out various other duties.

A pastor may also use the term “Reverend,” which indicates their ministry education and expertise level. A person having the title “Reverend” is qualified to perform extra tasks at their places of worship, such as sermons and officiating at marriages, funerals, and baptisms.

Instead of a title or position, “Reverend” is a way of addressing a pastor who has been ordained. A priest, minister, deacon, or pastor can be called “Reverend.”

For example, calling a priest “Rev. John Fisher” just like you’d call a Ph.D. holder “Dr.”

Who is a reverend father?

The title “Reverend Father” is commonly used to address a catholic priest. On paper, the title Reverend Father should be used while in person, “Father” should be used. 

The official title of a priest in the English-speaking Catholic and Orthodox churches is “Reverend,” or in certain Orthodox circumstances, “Reverend Father.”

All Catholic priests are granted the honorific title “Reverend Father,” which is most usually used before the clergy member’s name after ordination.

SEE: The Differences Between Parochial Schools and Catholic Schools

Who is a pastor? 

A person known as a “pastor” is someone who God has chosen to take care of His flock and nourish them spiritually through teaching and preaching.  

A pastor is mainly referred to as a church’s spiritual leader. You can also refer to a pastor as a senior minister in a group of clergy who oversees or takes charge of a congregation or parish. 

According to their denomination, you can refer to a pastor as the “Senior Pastor,” “Associate/Assistant Pastor,” “Youth Pastor,” “Worship Pastor,” or “Pastoral Associate,” etc.

Do protestant churches have reverend fathers?

No, protestant churches do not have reverend fathers. While some protestant churches may refer to their ministers as reverends, this is not the same as an ordained catholic priest with the title “reverend father.” 

Despite the fact that many religions use priests, most Protestant churches condemn the notion of the priesthood as a spiritually special group from the average member.

They reject the idea that a special class of believers called “priests” mediates interactions with God and holds unique privileges concerning the grace-dispensing procedure. 

Compared to the Catholic Church, Baptist and Protestant churches have significantly fewer leaders. They address their chief religious figure as “pastor,” “minister,” or “reverend,” respectively.

You commonly refer to the clergy as “ministers” in Protestant denominations and can also use terms like “pastor” or “reverend.” This person conducts religious activities, leads church services, and counsels churchgoers on their faith.

What is the difference between a reverend father and a pastor?

Father is the title of the Catholic Priest while Pastor is the title of the Mainstream or Protestant church leader.

The priest or reverend father is the ordained preacher of any Catholic-based church. In contrast, a pastor is the spiritual head of all other types of non-catholic Christian congregations.

A pastor without the Reverend title has fewer pastoral duties to fulfill. For example, he might not be able to preside over the Eucharist or a wedding. 

Other differences between a pastor and a reverend father include the following;

1. Succession

Catholic priests are consecrated by a bishop who was consecrated by another, whose consecration can be traced back to Christ’s apostles.

This process is known as Apostolic succession. Apostolic succession is not available to Protestant preachers or pastors.

2. Intermediation

According to Catholicism, the priesthood is a crucial bridge between God and humanity. Protestants interpret the Bible to teach that Jesus is the only mediator we could ever need and that He fully and totally performs this duty.

3. Mode of Operation

Church services may be conducted differently in some cases. Mass is what Catholics use for worship. The Mass includes singing, communal prayer, the sacrament of bread and wine, and the proclamation of the word.

Protestants and other independent churches hold services that include singing, group prayer, worship, and word preaching. 

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Similarities between a reverend father and a pastor

Pastors and priests function similarly and share certain similarities. They serve both God and their church selflessly by devoting their time. Both hold church services and prayer meetings and offer to counsel and pray for the sick.

They assist their flock’s spiritual development while spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. Both also perform a variety of additional tasks, including conducting baptisms, weddings, and funerals.

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Is a reverend father higher than a pastor?

No, a reverend father is not higher than a pastor as far as rankings go. In protestant churches, a pastor holds most of the responsibility in a congregation or church and must preach to a certain community or region.

In a catholic setting, however, a bishop holds most of that responsibility, not the priest (reverend father). The bishop has the priests (reverend fathers), coworkers, assistants, and deacons serving as aides.

This means that while a pastor might have significant authority in a church, a reverend father still answers to a bishop. 

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Are all priests reverend fathers?

Yes, you can refer to all male priests as reverend fathers. While male priests are typically addressed as Father and by their last name (e.g., Father Joseph), the proper title for a priest is The Reverend or The Very Reverend.

Ranks of catholic clergy

There are six main levels in the hierarchy of the catholic clergy, and while some may rise to the top, very few will do so. In reality, the majority of catholic clergy members stop at level 2.

  • Pope
  • Cardinal (Level 5)
  • Archbishop (Level 4)
  • Bishop (Level 3)
  • Priest (Level 2)
  • Deacon (Level 1)

FAQs

Do pastors receive a salary? 

Yes, pastors earn wages that average about $103,020 annually. A pastor’s salary may come from tithes or donations.

Do reverend fathers earn money?

Priests in the US are paid a respectable salary and receive benefits (including housing). A priest’s salary averages under $30k, and total compensation is $45.5k.

Can reverend fathers have children? 

No, catholic priests are all men and are not allowed to procreate once they’ve been ordained. However, instances exist where married men with kids become priests and take a vow of chastity.

Conclusion

A priest is a religious leader who has been given the authority to offer prayers and other services in connection with specific religious catholic practices. A pastor is an ordained minister who oversees the spiritual life of a congregation or congregation members. 

A priest is ordained to serve the church, which is his life’s work. A pastor serves to come alongside other men and carry them through specific life seasons.

The respectable title ‘reverend’ is a title that even pastors can hold and typically denotes one who can oversee the activities of a church. A reverend father, however, is a title given to ordained priests in a Catholic system. 

I hope you found this article helpful. You can also learn more about being a priest and the benefits and roles associated with being one. 

Thanks for reading.