Religious minister

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Related faiths:
Abrahamic religions

In most Protestant churches, a minister is a member of the ordained clergy who leads a congregation or participates in a role in a parachurch ministry; such a person may also be called a Pastor, Preacher, Bishop, Chaplain or Elder.

Ministers are generally seen as set apart from the community to which they minister through ordination. They are often provided a stipend rather than a wage or salary.

All denominations make some claim to finding their model of leadership (or church governance) in the New Testament. However the variety of relationships is large, ranging fom the low church view of a minister as one of the people to that of the minister as priest, set apart and with special authority.

Ecclesiology is the area of theology that relates to church structures and ministry.



There are contrasting views on the level of remuneration given to ministers relative to the religious community. There is often an expectation that they and their families will eschew ostentation. However there are situations where they are well rewarded for success, whether measured through drawing people to their religious community or enhancing the status or power of the community.

There is some disagreement between denominations and within some denominations as to whether women, and/or people who are homosexual can be ministers to their churches.


Ministers may, by themselves or with others:

  • research and study religion, Scripture and theology
  • plan and conduct services of public worship
  • provide leadership to the congregation, parish or church community, this will often be done as part of a team with lay people in roles such as elders
    • build a community of faith
    • work on developing relationships and networks within that community
    • supervise prayer and discussion groups, retreats and seminars and provide religious instruction
    • assist in co-ordinating volunteers and church community groups
    • train leaders for church, community and youth leadership.
  • provide pastoral care
    • provide personal support to people in crises, such as illness, bereavement and family breakdown
    • visit the sick and elderly.*engage in welfare and community services activities of communities
    • may refer people to community support services, psychologists or doctors
  • pray and promote spirituality
  • keep records as required by civil or church law

Training and qualifications

Depending on the denomination the requirements for ministry vary. All would require that the minister have a sense of calling. As regards to training, denominations vary from those that emphasise gifts and abilities and place little emphasis on book learning to those that require advanced tertiary education qualifications for example from a seminary or university. See the discussion

References to leadership roles in the New Testament

There are are range of references to leadership in the New Testament.

One of the clearest references is found in 1 Timothy 3:1-16, it outlines the requirements of a minister or bishop (Episcopay Επισκωπη (Greek)):

(1) This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. (2) A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; (3) Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; (4) One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (5) (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) (6) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. (7) Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. (8) Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; (9) Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. (10) And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. (11) Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. (12) Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. (13) For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. (14) These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: (15) But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (16) And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

Related titles


The Roman Catholic, Orthodox churches and some Anglican or Episcopal churches refer to their ordained clergy as priests with higher ranks being bishopsminister is not a title used by the ordained clergy (e.g. priests) nor is it a form of address for them, see Catholic minister.


The term Pastor tends to be used in Lutheran, Baptist and Pentecostal churches.




Forms of address

Depending on the church many ministers would be addressed as Reverend, however as above some use the term pastor and others do not use any specific form of address, in which case it would be Mr, Ms, Miss or Mrs as the case may be.

See also: Political ministerja:大臣


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