Albert Mohler: “Our Terminology Betrays What We Believe About Worship”

by Greg Linscott

I was listening to the Albert Mohler Radio Program a couple of days ago. This question and response brought to mind some recent discussions I have read and been a part of regarding the use of staff titles. I have provided the full clip here, but transcribed the most applicable part.

It reminds us again that our terminology betrays more than words, our terminology betrays what we believe about worship, what we believe about so many other things.

For instance, when I was growing up I would hear the pastor of the church referred to as a “preacher.” Down the street, there would be someone referred to as a “minister”…at another place, a “pastor”. Well, you and I would know that that’s basically the same person, and yet, I think sometimes, the use of some words, for instance, the word “minister,” can imply something a bit more bureaucratic in some places- not necessarily, but it some places. The word “pastor” can imply something a bit more pastoral. The word “preacher” gets right to the heart of a pastor’s calling. So, the words we choose can imply something, and that’s probably why we have to use more than one word when we talk about the pastor. The title of “pastor” or “Senior Minister”- we need to make clear that the heart of that calling is preaching– and so, perhaps the most important thing we can say about this person in worship is that he is the preacher.

You know, just thinking about church life, by the way, as a Southern Baptist- I have in my office the records of the denomination going back several years. When you look at those records, it’s only in the late 70s- 1970s- that they come up with some of the titles we know, like “Minister of Education,” “Minister of Youth,” and all the rest. As a matter of fact, in the Southern Baptist Convention, until that time, they just kind of put all those people in a category called “Other Religious Workers,” because there were no stable titles. But, like every corporation and organization, we expanded the titles. We need to understand that most of those aren’t found anywhere in Scripture- and if we limit ourselves to Scriptural titles, we’d have to change a lot of the things we do in church.

Not a bad point to ponder, I would suggest.

You can listen to the full clip below: