Jump directly to the Content

Job Title Trends for Pastors and Church Staff

The inspiration and solutions you need to create better job titles for pastors and staff at your church.
Job Title Trends for Pastors and Church Staff
Image: Getty | Studio Powers

Job titles ebb and flow—as one label becomes stale a new one rises to prominence. Your church doesn’t need to overhaul job titles and job descriptions just to stay hip. But it can’t hurt to understand the marketplace.

Over the last two years, ChurchSalary has gathered data on not just salaries but job titles, to better understand and meets the needs of the marketplace. The following article compiles some of the most current job title trends and patterns that we are observing among churches.

Pastor of _________

This title is an oldie but a goodie. This construction remains a very popular way to describe how a pastor is related to or responsible for a specific ministry, role, or campus.

  • Pastor of Worship & Implementation
  • Pastor of Discipleship & Hospitality
  • Pastor of Involvement
  • Pastor of [Location]

Alternatives: Pastor of _________ Ministries (e.g., Pastor of Global Ministries, Pastor of Family Ministries, etc.).

_________ Pastor of _________

The first word in this job title tends to reflect an individual’s pay grade or role within the organizational hierarchy. Are they an executive, assistant, or an associate pastor? The last word captures either the type of ministry they oversee or, in the case of pastors at multisite churches, it can reflect their oversight of a ministry that spans multiple campuses.

  • Executive Pastor of
    • Family and Discipleship
    • Worship and Creativity
  • Associate Pastor of [Location]
_________ Co-Pastor

More job titles are reflecting a “co-leadership” framework. These pastors are positioned as co-equals who work alongside someone who occupies the same space and title within the organization or team.

  • Kids & Family Co-Pastor
  • Co-Pastor of _________
  • Co-Director of Youth Ministries
[Creative Church-Specific Descriptor] Pastor

Narrow, church-specific terms for job titles are becoming more popular. These titles work great inside of the church organization and among the congregation. Nobody internally has any questions about their duties and responsibilities. The down side is that these titles are hard to translate for outsiders and can look weird on resumes. For these reasons, it may not hurt to come up with a set of church-approved internal and external titles.

For example, one church we came across uses the term “Rooted” for their small group and discipleship classes. Their goal is to get all their members “rooted” in community and the Word to produce spiritual growth. As a result, the church assigned these duties to a “Rooted Pastor”—who outside the church might be labeled a Small Groups or Discipleship Pastor.

As with many other creative titles, pastors with job titles like this at multisite churches may have duties that span multiple campuses or that are specific to a single location.

  • Rooted Pastor
  • Serve Pastor
  • Witness Pastor
  • Cause and Care Pastor
  • [Location or Group of Locations] Pastor
_________ Team Pastor

More and more churches are using the phrase “Team Pastor” as part of a job title. The “team” here can mean several different things: (a) multisite church employees on staff at a specific campus or location or (b) a subset of employees working in the same type of ministry—which in the case of a multisite church may span multiple campuses and/or locations.

  • Next Steps Team Pastor
  • Tech Team Pastor
  • [Location] Team Pastor
    • e.g., Downtown Team Pastor
Campus _________ Pastor

Campus pastor is no longer limited to an employee who is singular responsible for leading the campus—functioning almost like a senior pastor. Instead, multisite churches are adapting this terminology and applying the words “campus” and “pastor” in new ways.

This version of the pattern starts and ends the words “campus … pastor” but places a descriptor in the middle. In some cases, churches substitute campus for the location or campus name.

  • Campus Children’s Pastor
  • Campus Formation Pastor
  • [Location] Assimilation Pastor

_________ Campus Pastor

An alternative of the above trend is to place the descriptor in front of “campus pastor.” In the two examples below, the Online Campus Pastor is responsible for all online attendees because the church has designated their online ministry as a “campus” within their multisite organizational structure, and the Children’s Campus Pastor oversees the children’s ministry across multiple campuses.

  • Online Campus Pastor
  • Children’s Campus Pastor
Lead _________ Pastor

One of the most intriguing trends we are observing is the evolution of “Lead Pastor.” In the past, this title was almost always reserved for the senior pastor of a church large enough to employ multiple pastors.

Who is leading all these pastors? The Senior Pastor.

In order to understand how the use of this title has expanded and changed, it is helpful to remind ourselves the reasons why churches began to shift away from Senior Pastor in the first place.

  1. Lead Pastor is a cool, fresh alternative to the stuffy sounding title of Senior Pastor.
  2. The word “senior” increasingly took on the connotation of older adults as opposed to seniority as Senior Pastors began to hire dedicated Senior Adult Pastors.
  3. Lead Pastor is a more positive, forward-sounding way to designate the leader of a large staff. This trend occurred in the secular marketplace—i.e., where we used to have “Senior Architects,” we now have “Lead Architects.”

As church staffs exploded in size, complexity, and professionalism over the last two decades, the term “Lead Pastor” began to function semantically like word “Chief” does in large businesses with “C-level” employees. So, instead of a singular “Lead Pastor,” churches now have a Lead Teaching Pastor who is in charge of a Lead Worship Pastor who is in charge of multiple paid worship leaders or musicians.

  • Lead Worship Pastor
  • Lead Site Pastor
  • Lead Pastor of Connecting and Equipping
  • Lead Pastor of [Location]

Alternatives: Instead of using the word “pastor,” some churches are leaning into the “lead” nomenclature and describing key staff as:

  • Operations Team Lead
  • Lead Custodian
  • Lead Secretary
  • Admin Team Leader
  • Youth Church Co-Leader
  • Kids Team Leader

Senior Pastor - _________ _________

Along the same lines, as the size, complexity, and professionalism of church staffs have increased, churches have applied the Senior Pastor moniker beyond a single individual.

These days, churches are hiring people to serve as the Senior Pastor “of” specific ministries or campuses. Using a hyphen is also a common pattern for these job title constructions.

  • Senior Pastor - Congregational Development
  • Senior Associate Pastor - Shepherding Ministries
  • Senior Associate Pastor - Arts & Administration
  • Senior Associate Pastor - [Location]
  • Senior Pastor - [Campus Name]
Mix, Match, and Grab Bag

In the end, most of these job titles can be altered to reflect a non-pastoral role—i.e., someone who is not ordained or doesn’t meet the church’s internal criteria for a pastor. The most common way to do this is to substitute director or coordinator for pastor. Finally, churches are mixing and matching these trends to create more complex or nuanced titles such as:

  • Lead Pastor of [Location] and Senior Associate
  • Lead Senior Pastor
  • Senior Pastor, Head of Staff
  • Next Steps Pastor
  • NextGen Pastor+These titles are all the rage today. We chose not to focus on them because they don’t meet the criteria of a pattern or trend that can be applied in different ways across different churches. You either need/want a NextGen Pastor or you don’t.
  • Pastoral Coordinator
  • Pastoral Apprentice
  • Pastoral Intern

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is published with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations."

Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.

Lilly Endowment

ChurchSalary is made possible through funding from the Lilly Endowment Inc. As part of Lilly's "National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders," ChurchSalary—and our parent, Church Law & Tax—is committed to helping church leaders and pastors develop an atmosphere of healthy financial stewardship, especially in the area of church staff compensation.