In the recent incident in which a female reporter was slapped on the derriere (and arrested and charged with sexual battery, a misdemeanor), reports labeled the guy a “youth pastor,” “youth minister,” “youth group leader,” along with other various non-church related titles. The church says he is a volunteer worker.
So, how do we get to “pastor” for one of the many people in every church who volunteer and work with adults, children, students, or preschoolers?
I have no idea.
Was the man ordained? Was he a paid staffer at the church? Did the church formall install him in a position of youth minister or pastor?
Apparently, ‘no’ to all of those.
Another story, this one about criminal, felony sexual abuse of a minor, labeled the perp as “director” of one of the church’s ministries. Does that make him a “pastor?”
Depends, I guess.
I’m old school, old time, and just old. A church has a pastor. Yeah, I know, many churches have multiple ministers on staff. In those cases there is almost always a “senior” pastor, “lead” pastor, or some such other adjectival title for “pastor.”
In the SBC we go through periods where we change titles (associational mission strategist, anyone?) in churches. Associate, assistant, youth, student, etc. all modify pastor. People in my church generally prefer “pastor” when referring to any of the male staff. “You should talk to one of the pastors,” someone might be told.
Churches with multiple elders are confusing to folks. It has to be explained that there are elders but some (maybe just one) elders may also be a “pastor.” And some “pastors” aren’t on the elected elder board but are elders, at large elders who don’t oversee or serve, I suppose. No need to argue with me about it. I’m just pointing out what I see.
The old standby, Baptist Faith and Message, has “pastors” and “office of pastor” as the only mention using the word. “Elders” common in our day, was less common 20 years ago. I suspect if the BFM Committee had attempted to foist “elder” on the Convention, it would have been a problem.
You use what you prefer. I’ll use what I prefer. News media uses what they prefer and, apparently, they really like to label any church worker, volunteer or paid, as a “pastor” especially if he is a criminal.
You can call me “pastor.” You can call me “preacher.” You can call me “brother” (just don’t spit it out as an invective). Just smile when you say it. “William” works well too.
Don’t call me “elder” or “overseer.” The first calls attention to my age (come January 1, 2020 I will have lived in nine different decades). The latter doesn’t express my current situation, unless overseeing taking the trash out counts. In my patriarchal household no bag of garbage has ever made it outside the back door of my domicile unless I, the mighty pastor, Reverend, and trash guy personally took it.
But all of the young dude pastor/elder/overseer/preacher types go with first names anyway. So it doesn’t much matter. We’ve got Bubba, Chuck, Chip, Bo, and Biff. In 20 years we may have Liam, Aiden, and Mohammed (which just made the top ten in the US, so, what happens when Mo is saved and called to preach?)
If you want a scholarly treatment of all this ask Mark Terry.