Difference Between Pastor and Reverend (With Table)

A leader of spiritual activities commands great respect from members of religious sects. However, the members may get confused as to how to address or call these admired leaders. Most importantly, there is a common confusion among the use of the terms “Pastor” and “reverend” and their appropriate use regarding the relevant spiritual authorities.

Pastor vs Reverend

The difference between Pastor and reverend is that Pastor is a noun and refers to a priest entrusted with the management of a church, while Reverend is an adjective and refers to the honorary title of the clergyman.

However, the above is not the only difference. A comparison between both the terms on certain parameters can shed light on subtle aspects:


Comparison Table Between Pastor and Reverend (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of ComparisonPastorreverend
MeaningPastor refers to the person entrusted with the overall administration of the church. Pastor means a person who is considered as the head of the church.Reverend refers to a title of respect for a member of the clergy
Noun/AdjectivePastor is a nounReverend is an adjective
Person/TitlePastor refers to the person (i.e. parish priest)Reverend refers to the title of that person (i.e. parish priest)
Function/OccupationPastor can be considered as a function or occupationReverend can be considered as an honorable title
AttributePastor does not denote any title being given to the head of the churchReverend denotes a title for a priest of the Christian church
Religion TypePastor is a term commonly associated with Christian religionReverend style may be used to refer to members of the priest in other religions
OriginationThe word “Pastor” originated in the 14th century before the word reverend came into beingThe word “reverend” originated in the 15th century i.e. after the word “Pastor” came into being


What is Pastor?

Pastor is derived from the Latin word Pastor meaning “shepherd”. This means “to lead to pasture”. This word and meaning has been adopted to religious aspects. Pastor from a religious perspective means the minister of the church. The term “Pastor” was first used in the 14th century.

Pastor as used by Catholics is known as a parish priest. Pastor denotes the head clergyman of the Catholic church or a minister or priest in charge of a church. Pastor is a person who exercises spiritual guidance over several people or members of the church. Pastor is the person who is in spiritual and jurisdictional charge of a parish, church, congregation, or community.

Pastor has the necessary power and control to lead and guide religious services. Pastor will enable the management of church services and also help and direct others on the worshipping aspects. Pastor is often looked for advice by churchgoers and the pastor commands great respect as such.

Pastor is a person who has been appointed as such or being conferred holy orders to conduct holy and prayerful services. Pastor will lead Sunday mass and other types of religious or solemn ceremonies.

Pastor may be used as a religious title also such for example Pastor John but this may be rare. The reason is the pastor is more used as a noun and not as a title or adjective.


What is Reverend?

Reverend is derived from the Latin word “reverendus” which means “to stand in awe of” i.e. a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder. In other words, something which is worthy of honor and respect. Reverend was first used in the 15th century.

Reverend means a title for a member of the clergy. As Pastor means the head of the clergy, reverend means a title which is given to such clergy. This may be synonymous with a title that is provided to someone from military or defense such as a major or colonel. For example, it may be stated that “The service was led by the reverend John Davies.”

Reverend can be considered as a title implying or expressing high status, politeness, or respect conferred on a member of the clergy. Reverend can be added at the beginning as a prefix or introduction to the first name or initials and last name. Reverend with a surname alone such for example “reverend Davies” or using in a letter such for example, “Dear Rev. Mr. Davies” are considered as wrong or inappropriate usage of the title. The correct usage would be using “reverend John Davies” or “reverend Mr. Davies.”

Reverend title denotes that the person has a substantial mastery and exposure in religious services of the church. A clergy which has a title of reverend will be able to solemnize more services than clergy/pastor who doesn’t have such title.

Main Differences Between Pastor and Reverend

  1. Pastor means a clergyman serving a local church or parish. Reverend is an honorary style placed before the name of the Christian clergy.
  2. Pastor refers to a parish priest. Reverend refers to a title being provided to a parish priest.
  3. Pastor is a noun. Reverend is an adjective.
  4. Pastor does not signify any title being provided to the head of the church. Reverend denotes a title which is being provided to the head of the church.
  5. Pastor is a term originated before the word reverend was used. The word reverend was used after the word pastor came into being.
  6. Pastor is a type of function or occupation. Reverend is not a type of function or occupation.



Pastor and reverend are two important terms that are most often used in religious aspects. Pastor refers to the head of the church, whereas reverend denotes the title being provided to such head.

The usual title is provided for example, Rev. Antonio. Again this may depend on the religious denomination. In certain denominations, the head of clergy could be called as Father or in protestant faith, it may be called as Pastor or minister.


  1. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Pastor
  2. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/reverend
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