Is it okay to call a church leader 'Reverend'?
The King James Version of the Bible refers to God as "reverend" in Psalm 111:9, saying, "… holy and reverend is his name." As a result, some people believe "Reverend" is a title that should be used only toward God and not for others. However, the actual Hebrew word translated "reverend" in this verse is not a title. The idea is that God's name is highly respected or exalted. Modern translations use terms such as holy or awesome instead to communicate this concept.
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Others disagree with the use of Reverend as a title for a minister due to the words of Jesus found in Matthew 23:8-11: "But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant."
If Christian leaders are not to be focused on titles, then some argue that Reverend should not be used for the title of a minister. Again, this is not specifically stated in Scripture, though there is some biblical basis to refrain from formal titles related to church leadership.
Today, many denominations and church groups use the term Reverend for a person who has completed a formal ordination. If a person is qualified as a minister by his character as described in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9 and completes ordination by a council of church leaders, he is given the title of Reverend to show he has been set apart for ministry as a church leader.
If this title if uncomfortable or offensive for you to use, you can certainly use another title or word. There is no biblical requirement to use Reverend in reference to a church leader. The church leader is not called to focus on his title anyway, but rather to "shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock" (1 Peter 5:2-3).
Acts 20:28 adds that church leaders are to, "Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood." Rather than concern for a title, the goal of the church elder or pastor is to live a holy life and to care for the flock under his care. Paul encouraged church leaders to follow his example that, "In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak" (Acts 20:35).
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