What Is the Proper Way to Refer to a Preacher?

Adapted from an article by Clem Thurman
via Gospel Minutes, Vol. 58, No. 34, Aug. 21, 2009.


My denominational friends refer to their preacher as "Pastor" or "Reverend." What is the proper way to address the preacher, or how do you refer to him as you speak of him to others?


For me it is easy to answer what I call the preacher who preaches for our congregation. He is about fifty years my junior so I call him David for that is his given name.

David is not a 'pastor', so I don't refer to him in that way. Nor do I call him 'Reverend' for God is the only One who is called 'Reverend' in the Bible and I dare not give that title to a mere man. Even though I respect David for what he does, he preaches the gospel regularly in our assemblies. He also teaches classes in our Bible class assemblies.

It may seem odd to some when they hear you call the preacher by his first name. But why not? If Peter could refer to Paul as 'Paul,' and Paul could refer to Timothy as 'Timothy,' then why can't we use the same terminology when we speak to or of the person that preaches in the congregation of which we are members. I firmly believe that we can, and should. Now, if David happened to be a person that was several years older than myself, I would respectively refer to him as 'Brother' Deason. This is done with respect to age, but not to put him on a pedestal in a spiritual way. We, as Christians, refer to our brothers and sisters in Christ, as brother so and so or sister so and so.

With regard to the term "Pastor," as it is used in the Bible, it refers to a shepherd or elder of the flock, or church. A plurality of pastors, elders, or bishops are those men who meet certain qualifications as are given in I Timothy 3 and Titus 1. They then are appointed to oversee the congregation, especially in Spiritual matters. They can only oversee the congregation of which they are members and not several congregations.

The preacher is not to be referred to as "Pastor" "Reverend" nor "Father." In most cases the preacher is not one of the 'elders' in the congregation. And certainly, he is not in a position to be called "Reverend" because that term is only applied once in all of the Bible and then it refers to God. Then, one is not to be referred to as 'Father' in a religious sense because we are told not to be referred to in that sense Matthew 23:9.

Preachers are referred to as 'evangelists' in the Bible (Acts 21:8; II Timothy 4:5), because he brings the 'good news' (the gospel) to us. The preacher is also referred to as 'minister' which basically means 'servant' (Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 4:7). So, it is
proper to refer to the preacher by these Scriptural terms. But the terms used to denote the preacher are never designed to "put him on a pedestal" above the other members of the congregation. A preacher's work is done under the oversight of the elders of the congregation for which he preaches. They are responsible to be sure that he preaches the truth as it is found in the Bible, the Word of God.