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Should I call you "Reverend"?

"Should I call you 'Reverend'?" someone asked me recently. I paused for a moment, thinking a million thoughts at once. I'm not much of a fan of the "reverend" title, in part because of its problematic grammar but mostly because I don't want to be revered.

"Reverend" isn't actually a title at all; it's what's called a style. It's similar to calling a judge "the Honorable John Doe," and some grammarians get their stoles in a twist if "reverend" occurs without the officially correct "the" before it.

More importantly, "reverend" isn't a noun synonymous with "pastor"; it's an adjective that means "deserving reverence." When someone calls me "Rev. Adam," the absent definite article bothers me a lot less than the fact that I'm being called "revered" just because I happen to be ordained. I'd rather earn respect than be given it by default.

Maybe I wimped out, but I went ahead and told the person who asked that I'm happy just being called "Adam," but if she's more comfortable with "Reverend," that's fine too. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet--or as sour.

Do you call your pastor "Reverend"? Why or why not? And pastors, what do you prefer to be called?

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For almost forty years parishioners have called me Reverend. It never occurred to me to correct them, so I didn't, nor do I see any reason to do so. It's our tradition. Their choice. It serves to remind me that they look to me as a spiritual leader, that the office to which I have been ordained holds great responsibility in the care of souls, and that they can entrust their confidences with me. Does the title make one less approachable? That depends on how one "wears" the title. It can go to your head. Or it can go to your heart. As to grammatical correctness, I'm not a stickler about it in colloquial use. (Grammar? Read any Faulkner lately?)


Greenings in the name of our Lord,

I believe no one is eligible to receive reverence expect the almighty, the Father GOD. According to Psalms 111:9- "  Holy and reverend is his name. " The Father God is the only one who could receive the reverence, not any one. If we could observe the Bible very keenly then we can find one thing that no one, when i say no one, all the apostles, prophets and even Christ never combined with this word. On the entire Bible we could see this word only once and that is in 111:9 which regard to Father God.



The Bible clearly teaches us,

The Bible clearly teaches us, that a minister should not be called Revernd.  We call our pastor simply Bro. He has his doctoral degree, so when introducing him I will do so by this is Dr. Jorhn Doe. Isalm 111:9 and Matthews 23:7-10, will show this.


The title "REVEREND"

Not to "offend" (but to "correct" and "reprove"), but, I believe that anyone who is TRULY familiar with the "Word" should take heed to Psalms 111:9 wherein the term "HOLY and REVEREND", of which the title "REVEREND" is a shortened "traditional" version of (the "full" title being THE HOLY and REVEREND), is only used ONCE in the ENTIRE BIBLE!!! And it is referred to none other that YAWEH(GOD) Himself!!! So, really there is no discussion on the matter as I see it. Peter, Paul, nor any of the other disciples or apostles (nor even JESUS) used it and I've yet to meet or hear any "greater" or more "inspired" men of GOD than they!!! So, as I see it with all of "degrees" that are conferred upon "clergy", how they tend to "overlook" this point, is beyond my understanding. So as it is commonly said in my circles, "Speak" where the Bible speaks, and be "silent" where it is silent..."

Should I be called "Reverend"

One answer does NOT fit all situations. Here are samples of variations:

FORMAL AND PRINTED: There are times when a full title (The Rev, The Very Rev, The Most Rev, The Rev. Dr., or .... should be used.

PASTORAL MINISTRY EVENTS: Hospital visits, etc., probably would suggest Pastor Jane or Father John.

STARBUCKS AND GOLF COURSES: These are occasions for first name only: Jane or John.

There are also other variables.

Whatever works

I think it matters most what people need to call you for the sake of their own connection to you. I have folks who call me by my first name, folks who stick Reverend in front of that, and at least one member who calls me Rev., which I actually like. My younger son once called me Mama Rev in front of his friends, and so the kids now call me that, which I really like.

I used to be an editor before I was a minister, so I know what's grammatically correct. But I think I care more about the fact that they call me anything at all, honor me by including me in their lives and value my counsel.

And I will answer to Pastor, too.....


I too do not insist that my parishioners call me anything other than my first name.
I do greatly appreciate the idea behind a title such as Reverend, because it makes the point that I have been called not just to a profession but a lifestyle. I also find as a woman in ministry that sometimes titles such as this combat the tendency for people outside of my Presbyterian tradition to assume that I am a non-ordained "minister."
Mostly though my appreciation for the title Reverend came once my brother was ordained as a Theravada Buddhist monk who is addressed as Bhante which translates as Venerable. While I call him by his given name in private, when we are in public I address him as Bhante (as does his 6 year old nephew) as a sign and modeling of deep respect for him and the life that he has chosen. It helps me to remember that my tradition also considers me venerable and compells me to live a life worthy of that description.


It seems a bit ironic that when filling out the address form for this magazine, I was given the following choices:

"Dr, Dr & Mrs, Dr. & Mr, Mrs, Mr., Mr. & Mrs., Mrs., Ms., No Title, or Reverend:"

Does this mean that the editors of Christian Century have too high regard for their magazine that "Dr." is listed first and too little for the explicit title for ordained, "Reverend" which is listed last? What about those who hold a doctorate and their spouse also holds a doctorate and they want to share a magazine subscription? Isn't it interesting that there is not an optional title for the ordained or religious? Why not, "Pastor", "Father", "Sister" or etc.?

For me, I do not want to lift up my education, so no title related to it will do. I do not want to set myself apart too much, so I do not want the "reverend" title because it just doesn't seem fitting for me. I value a relational connection with the congregations I serve, so I prefer folks (and youth) to simply use my first name. If the person prefers a title, I suggest "mister". If that doesn't work for them, I suggest "pastor". I try to be consistant with this idea of not being too set apart by rarely using a clergy robe in the worship service too.

Occam's Razor

They are ordered alphabetically in this list.

"just because I happen to be ordained"

The body of believers who said AMEN at your ordination want very much to believe they did in fact ordain someone whose life can be revered. Sometimes being an inspirational leader means playing to the expectation.

Fake it till you make it.

"Fake it until you make it?"

"Fake it until you make it?" That sounds an aweful lot like being duplicitous to me. And, as one who has seen about 10 pastors (who I have either been friends or acquaintances with) fall to sexual sin, 2 commit suicide and one become addicted to perscription drugs, I think authenticity is called for in the pastorate. In fact, I think pastors should follow the examples of the apostles and demonstrate what true authenticity looks like (eg: Paul in Romans 7).

In Matthew 23, Jesus instructs the disciples not to be called by the honorific titles: teacher, father, or leader, because they only have one "teacher, father, leader". Instead they are to be called "brothers". Furthermore, you see no evidence of the disciples using honorific titles with each other. You see them at times using their credetials to clarify their credibility (eg: "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ" or "Paul, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ"). But not honorific titles. Paul who was called "Brother Saul" by Ananias when he was restored his sight (Acts 9:17). This was shortly before his official ministry in the synagogues began. I don't remember seeing him being refered to by this title again. But it seems, based on the context, that it was a term of endearment that all Christians gave to one another. I have an African American friend who refers to everyone in her church as "sister __" or "brother __". I think this is sweet and is more in compliance with the Biblical mandate in Matthew 23 and that set by the apostles. Charles Spugeon calls honorific titles "popery". Here is a link to his sermon on the subject.: http://eldership.org/resources/spurgeon_ordination.html



"Father" works better.

"Father" works better.

don't get caught up in the name

Unless the title is being uttered out of clear disrespect, it really shouldn't matter what people call you. My sense is that religious leaders who obsess about how they're addressed usually need to do some vocational discernment. Being ordained is, by definition, being "set apart," and in an increasinly secular culture, fewer people know the correct terminology for that even though they still are aware of a pastor's/rabbi's/father's "other"ness. Let them call you what they want to call you, as long as the relationship is healthy. Don't set up walls by dwelling on titles, even under the pretense of taking them down by telling them you prefer your first name...because you are "just one of them."


"Father" or "Mother" works nicely in my tradition. Pastor is preferred by many as more informal. To address your ordained minister as "Reverend" seems rather quaint, right up there with referring to theologians as "divines."

Call me pastor if you must, but not Rev.

I wrote a piece for Theolog 2 years ago entitled "I'm not your Reverend," in which I raised similar questions. The word is misused and is really intended to be used as a form of address in the same way Honorable is used for a judge.

I am not a reverend, I'm a pastor or a minister, etc. While I understand why some may choose to embrace it, It's not my thing. So, if you must, call me pastor and if that doesn't work use the Dr. from my PhD, but unless you're addressing an envelope, leave aside the Rev.

Not Rev.

Why is it so easy to say Reverend (that is not written), and can't call a person Apostle, Prophet... that is written
Thanks, Prophetess Angela Hines

Don't get caught up in the name.

Unless it's being uttered as a sign of clear disrespect, the name someone calls you really shouldn't matter. In fact, if someone's that caught up in what they're called, I think he or she might need to do a soul-searching about his/her vocation. Those who are ordained are, by definition, "set apart," and sometimes that's reflected in what words people use to address you. Just let people call you what they need to call you, even if it's grammatically incorrect. If they ask, briefly explain any preference you have...but be careful not to put up walls...even under the pretense of taking them down by telling them just to call you by your first name because "you're just one of them."

No revered women...

I don't call my pastor "Reverend" and nor do I expect to be called "Reverend (insert first or last name)" once I graduate from seminary.

I am very careful, however, to call my female co-workers "Pastor ___" (and not just their first name) in front of parishioners.

I do worry that we are devaluing professions (pastor, judge, doctor) just as women begin entering those fields in large numbers...

Thank you

Thank you for bringing female clergy into this discussion. I actually prefer the title "Reverend" because it's traditionally used in my church for clergy, but as a woman pastor, it is still seems to surprise people to hear it before my name. To set the title aside and just be "Teri" at this point in my ministry, feels like a denial of all that I have done and all that God has done through me to become clergy.


In the Congregational tradition (which has really been subsumed by the common practice of using simply “Reverend”) no one would have been called “Reverend.” The title was (and perhaps still should be?) “The Reverend Mr. xxx” or in today’s world, “The Reverend Ms. xxx.” The thesis behind that usage was no one is reverend or should be considered reverend except God.


I was ordained in 1971 and was called "reverend" with my last name for about twenty-five years. In the mid-nineties, people began calling me "pastor" with my first name. That is now the norm where I live. I have an earned doctorate, so the technical title would be "the Reverend Doctor......" but we live in an informal age.

Should I call you "Reverend" ?

Your answer, call me by (first name) or Reverend, whatever you prefer, is also my answer.
For some reason, I really don't like to be called "Pastor."
It's like a school teacher not liking to be called "teacher."
It's a purely functionary term, and I would never call a retail clerk "clerk" or the garbage man "garbage man."
You are correct that "Reverend" is a written title, as in "The Reverend Name."
But just as a judge is called "your honor," the ordained ministers are now called "reverend."
Why not have people call us that? It reminds us of who we serve, always pointing to the God who made us, redeems us, and sustains us.

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