What is a pastor?

To many people, a pastor, often called a minister, stands at the pulpit once a week and delivers a message. Some will ponder and talk about the message later in their homes.

Some people see pastors as the person who directs the church’s vision. Therefore, they associate everything that goes right (or wrong) in the church with him.

To some people, a pastor is a counselor or a coaching minister. They meet with the pastor because they are hurting. They go because they need help.

Some people see a pastor as a chaplain. This pastor may be a volunteer who works at a local fire department. He prays with the firefighters and brings the presence of Christ, offering sacraments at the fire station.

A pastor or minister can also be a wedding officiant who helps couples get married.

Pastor in the Bible

The word pastor is taken from the metaphor of shepherding. A spiritual shepherd is a pastor. Ephesians 4:11 mentions that God gave some Christian leaders “to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, shepherds and teachers.”  The word shepherd comes from the Greek word “poimane.”  The word “poimane” appears 17 times in the New Testament. It literary means “shepherd” and figuratively means “pastor.”

What is the connection between Pastor and Minister?

People often call the pastor the minister. Christians are called to the office of a minister. The minister’s office comes from the New Testament word “diakonos,” which means a server, waiter, or steward, and spiritually, a server as a deacon or minister. 1 Timothy 3:8-13 talks about the qualifications of ministers.

In other words, a pastor is usually a person with the spiritual or church office of “minister.” They are licensed or ordained ministers who function as “pastors” in the lives of their congregation or sphere of influence.

How Does One Become a Pastor?

Christian religious societies license or ordain the minister who functions as their pastor. Christian societies can be ancient organizations like the Catholic Church or Greek Orthodox Church. Christian religious societies can be reformation denominations, like Lutheran, Baptist, Reformed, Presbyterian, or Episcopal. Recent religious societies like pentecostal or local non-denominational churches have “minister credentialing programs.”

Some societies, like the Christian Reformed Church, have extensive education standards, and most of their ministers or pastors serve in full-time positions. The Catholic Church requires priests to be male and to live a celibate life.

Some societies, like the Christian Leaders Alliance, have online ministry training appropriate to the ministry role. For example, the Christian Leaders Alliance has minister credentialing programs for volunteer, part-time, or full-time ministers. Christian Leaders Alliance also maintains local societies called Soul Centers. 

How Do I know if I am Called to Be a Pastor?

A pastor is a Christian who walks with God in their personal life. They feel they are called to serve others in their spiritual and physical needs as ministers. This inner calling speaks to their soul. They believe it is God calling them to service. They also notice that God gives them interest and gifts to serve in ministry. Finally, they notice that people begin seeing them as Christian leaders. Some may even say to them, “You should be a minister or pastor.”

So What About You?

There are many pastoral or minister opportunities.

You could be a volunteer, part-time or full-time pastor in a local church, a community, or online.

You could be an officiant, licensed, or ordained minister who takes on a ministry role.

Have You Heard of the Christian Leaders Institute?

Christian Leaders Institute offers tuition-free online ministry training courses in various ministry topics of interest to pastors. See Recommendation

Bible Courses – Pastors need a working knowledge of the Old and New Testament – Christian Leaders Institute offers dozens of mini-courses and complete courses covering books of the Bible and methods of Biblical interpretation.

Christian Theology, Philosophy, and History – Pastors need deepening knowledge of what Christianity teaches. Christian Leaders Institute has been recognized as a world leader in tuition-free Biblical systematics courses.

Ministry Studies – If someone is called to become a pastor, there is much to learn. There are over 50 courses that study the science of ministry, such as Preaching, People Smart, Youth Ministry, Overcoming Addictions, Sexuality Studies, Women in Ministry studies, Navigating Conflict, and much more.

Minister and Pastor Skills – Some of the most popular courses at Christian Leaders Institute are pastoral skills courses that assist newer pastors or ministers in gaining ministry skills. The “Christian Wedding Officiant Skills” course is the most popular ministry skills course. This course is ideal if you are asked to perform a wedding and hear the call to minister that way. This is a one-credit course on how to guide a couple to be married. You will be prepared to perform the wedding ceremony with confidence.

Have You Heard of the Christian Leaders Alliance?

The Christian Leaders Alliance has credentialed pastors as a grassroots program since 2014. In addition, Christian Leaders Alliance recognizes the tuition-free ministry training of the Christian Leaders Institute and oversees a minister credentialing program including five core minister roles.

Minister Roles

Christian Leaders Alliance offers five minister/pastor roles. What are the pastor roles offered?

Christian Wedding Officiant – The first role is the Christian Wedding Officiant. You must complete the Wedding Officiant Skills course and submit one endorsement that you are fit and called to this role.

Commended Minister – The commended minister role is ideal for a volunteer minister at a local church. This pastor role includes many mini-courses and is highly popular with local church elders and deacons.

Licensed Minister – This licensed minister role is ideal for someone starting new in ministry or someone who has never been formally recognized as a minister. The ministry training includes mini-courses and more full-credit courses. This program is popular with part-time ministers. Two local endorsements are needed in this program. See Testimony

Ordained Minister – In many churches, the ordained minister is the pastor or senior pastor. This Christian Leaders Alliance program requires more Bible and Ministry study courses, including such topics as Old and New Testament Survey classes. You will also need to complete studies in theology. The ordained minister program may be the right fit for you if you want to serve as a full-time pastor. You will need three recommendations for this program.

Coaching Minister – The coaching minister program is becoming more and more popular. Coaching ministers are trained as pastors and also as coaches. You will need recommendations for this program as well.

Minister Specializations

How many types of pastors are there? In the early church, there were many types of pastor roles. Those roles were reduced to fewer as the Catholic church grew. Recently, more and more roles are being added as the needs of Christians have increased, and there is more of a willingness to hear what the Bible says about specific topics.

Christian Leaders Institute offers over 150 ministry courses that allow for specific specializations. Right now, over 30 specializations can be the five minister roles. Here is a sample of some of these roles:

  • Prayer
  • Senior Adult
  • Matchmaking
  • Marriage and Sex Education
  • Overcoming Addictions

Often, a pastor will get licensed or ordained as a general minister and then study the specializations that fit their interests and gifts.

How Do I Become a Pastor?

Maybe you have read this article and are interested in becoming a pastor. What should you do?

  1. Pray and talk to your spouse, pastor, or other Christian leaders. What is God saying to your spirit? Does your spouse or pastor see you as a future minister?
  2. Sign up for ministry training. Some denominations require you to complete your ministry training at their seminaries. Christian Leaders Institute may fit you if you need a tuition-free ministry training option.
  3. Complete ministry training and talk to an organization that credentials you. If you complete courses at the Christian Leaders Institute, those courses are recognized by the Christian Leaders Alliance.