What do you call your pastor?

Even though I'm now ex-Canadian-Reformed, a recent post by Yinkahdinay made me think a little bit more about an issue that was in the back of my mind for a while:

In our churches, we have this strange habit of referring to ministers as "Reverend." We criticize the Roman Catholic Church for calling their priests "Father." But when the exegetical rubber hits the road, there is more Scriptural defense for calling your pastor "Father" than there is for calling him "Reverend" or (much, much worse) Dominee (a Dutch title derived from the Latin dominus, Lord)

Perhaps I've been contaminated by the academic world. I think that the average attitude in academia amongst Ph.D.s these days is to be annoyed or even offended if someone that they know even remotely were to drop a Dr. in front of their name. (Titles like Dr. and Sir. when used in a university setting seem often more than not an indication that someone's name has been forgotten).

For the moment my approach is to drop all titles and stick with just a name. (Pastor is a word that I see as more a role description than a title). To toss the question back to you: what do you call your pastor?


Rev. Lodder prefers to be address as "Pastor Lodder". While this is taking some getting used to, I slowly am making the transition. I, like so many others, am having a little difficulty not using "Reverend".

My one comment about using titles is that they are often used (at least by me) more as a sign of respect rather than because I forgot someone's name. Generally, I feel awkward calling those "in authority over me" (teacher, boss, professor, etc.) by their first name - it just doesn't feel right. That being said, there are a few exceptions. At work, I think my boss would look incredibly strangely at me if I called him "Mister ..." and there one or two profs that I had that I felt comfortable enough around to call them by their first name - and even only then when they particularly stated that they either had no problem with it, or prefered it.

The oddest example, though, was in my first semester at SFU. One of my profs (Dave will probably remember this) that we could call him [First Name] or Dr. [Last Name], but not Mr. [Last Name] - that was his brother. I found this rather amusing at the time, and he turned out to be one of the very few university profs that I felt comfortable calling by his first name. And yes, Dave, this was the prof that had...odd...woodworking hobbies.

You know... I don't think you want to know the things that I call my pastor. It's not all for the public ear. ;^)
I can call him almost anything... just not late for dinner.
He's My Man.
I always called my pastor either Pastor (first name), Pastor (last name) or just plain first name.

Been waiting for this topic to crop up...

Both "Reverend" and "Dominee" are terms of respect. The term "pastor" is still a little new to me too, but it seems like a synonym for minister, which as Dave mentioned is a role description.

I have no major issue with ministers calling themselves pastors, but they were ordained as ministers and their correct title is Rev. or Ds. depending on which language you're speaking, and I'll continue to call them as such whether they like it or not.

What makes matters even worse is this whole first-name-basis stuff, where they sign their e-mail messages with their first name and people call them by it. This practice is very disrespectful.

WRONG: Pastor Wes
RIGHT: Rev. Bredenhof

What do you think of yinkahdinay's argument that the title "father" is more scripturally defensible than either reverend or dominee? Would you consider "father" an appropriate title for your pastor?

Ds? Is that some sort of abbreviation of dominee?

Ds. = doctorandus -- this is the Dutch equivalent of a master's degree. You can be a doctorandus in all sorts of fields, not just the ministry.

If people's consciences are appeased by calling me Reverend, I'm not going to make a fuss over it. In my experience, the most highly critical people in the church, the ones who have roast minister for lunch, are the same ones who insist on calling him "Reverend" or "Dominee." To me that makes no sense. When I was a missionary, the Babine didn't have titles in their own culture and so I didn't insist on one. They called me "Wes" and most of them respected me as a pastor/missionary. The lesson? You can have titles and show absolutely no respect for the office or you can have no titles and show the utmost respect.

What do you think of yinkahdinay's argument that the title "father" is more scripturally defensible than either reverend or dominee? Would you consider "father" an appropriate title for your pastor?

I would say no because we call God our Father. Some might argue that's a similar situation to Dominee/Lord, but there's a difference between Lord and LORD. There was an actual feudal title of Lord in many countries.

Ds? Is that some sort of abbreviation of dominee?

So I've been told. My great-great-great-grandfather was a minister in the late 18th century and early 19th century and this was the title he put in front of his name. I don't know what level of theological education he had, but this webpage seems to agree with the interpretation. According to Wikipedia, the abbreviation for Doctorandus is Drs. so I guess that means I win?

What about Pastor Bredenhof? It's sort of a combination of both. I was raised using the Reverend title so it feels weird to use Pastor, but I could get used to it.

So, tell me. If you ever got a Ph.D or something like that, would you want to be called Dr. VanderMolen? Even by friends and peers?

I have heard of ministers who insisted even that their children call them "Reverend." That's sick. It's the old Dutch (human?) pride thing coming out. It has nothing to do with Christ or his apostles. Note how Paul signs all his letters: Paul.

No, but the situation is a little different. I don't call ministers with doctorates Doctors either.

I suppose I call one of the elders "Uncle", as he is my Uncle-in-law...

Pastors includes all the elders, including the minister(s). I call them all by their first names, including Wes, but not Rev. Visscher. When speaking about Wes to the children, I refer to him as Rev. Bredenhof.

r0sigma - http://r0sigma.blogspot.com/

I've found that in Prebyterian circles there is more talk of teaching and ruling elders, which seems to more emphasize the commonality in the roles.

For those who insist on calling their pastor Rev. LastName, do you also call your elders Elder Lastname?

Same as with minister, elder is the name of the office, not a title (except in Amish culture where it refers to the head of the household).