Should Ministers Use Their Title With Their Name?


Jan 31, 2003

I don't think we should be known as a title; "apostle, prophet, pastor, teacher, evangelist." I don't sense any need/reason to CAPIALIZE the name, ie: Apostle or Prophet. It seems to draw attention to what is not important.

If we have 'Apostle what's-his-name' or 'Prophet her-name' why not then do we have others known as 'Helps' or 'Discernment whats-his-name'? I am not meaning for us to devalue the gift, but it's descripton in itself should not puff up or bring value; As they are all gifts for the same God. 

Randy, lest anyone think I'm bashing you, they are wrong. You are of great value in the kingdom. I support you, in that I see the heart of Jesus at work within you.

your brother in Jesus, Steve 

My Reply:

Just to add to what Salt said in reply to Steve (and no Steve I do not feel you are bashing me), it is very important to know the title of what a person does, like salt said, what if the phone book just said lawyers, but did not distinguish between adoption lawyers, divorce lawyers, medical injury lawyers, etc? What if you went to a church and nobody mentioned who the Pastor was ever? What if the first person to get up and speak in the Church the first time you went there was an Elder, but not the Senior Pastor, and he was doing a 3 month series of lessons on Sunday, but you needed to talk to the Pastor about something regarding your marriage or a ministry related issue, what would you do if nobody ever used the title "Pastor"? Would you go to the one teaching behind the pulpit, elder Joe and just assume he had the authority to authorize you to start a new ministry in the Local organization, or would elder Joe refer you to the Pastor, making the identity of the Pastor clear by using the title before his or her name?

The capitalization is nothing more than correct grammar. Christ was not Jesus' name, but the title of who He was. What if Jesus never used His title as Christ, the Messiah, with all the other Joshuas in the World at that time, how would you distinguish which one was the Messiah without the title Christ? Jesus is a transliteration of the Greek, but a better English name for Him would be Joshua. I have known a few Joshuas and have even known others named Jesus, in the Spanish sense of the word.

Jesus was looking for a people who understood who He was not by His name alone, because there were a lot of Jesus' at that time. His name was very common. What set this Jesus apart was His title, Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. If titles were not important to God in recognizing the role somebody should play in the church, then we would all be very confused about the authority Paul had if he never used his title as an apostle in his letters.

If we are not suppose to capitalized titles, then we should refer to Jesus as Jesus christ and not Jesus Christ, but Christ capitalized is correct grammar the same way Doctor Joe is correct grammar for Joe the doctor, when the title is used as a proper noun.

Really, people have no problem when Pastors or Reverends use their titles, or even Evangelists for that matter, but like Salt said, look out if you use the title apostle or prophet. I think that the church has so idolized the New Testament Apostles that they have canonized them like the Catholic Church canonizes Saints and elevated them to a position the ordinary man cannot reach. Peter was not called out from a religious background or because he had so many dreams and visions that Christ had to call him, he was called from a normal background, completely non-religious in nature. He was as common a person as you or I working at Burger King, Jack In the Box, or wherever. (The Gospel is a reachable message.)

Using the title of your office or gift is the same as referring to who you are with the use of the title of an office. How many times is Jesus referred to as Christ in Scripture (remember Christ was the title of His office as Messiah and not His last name)? Paul referred to "himself" as an apostle in the following scriptures: Rom. 1:1; 1 Cor. 1:1, 2 Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:1; Eph. 1:1; Col. 1:1; 1 Tim. 1:1; 2 Tim. 1:1, Tit. 1:1; and there may be more....

We must remember that Apostle Paul wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and in all the times Paul referred to himself as an apostle above, it was always at the beginning of his epistles. In other words, before the Holy Spirit would start speaking about any other point through Paul in his letters, the Holy Spirit first made it clear the office, title, and authority of the one speaking (or in this case, writing the letter).

Jesus said that if you receive a prophet in the name of a prophet, you will receive the reward of what a prophet has to offer. Some people receive Jesus as a teacher, a prophet, but do not recognize Him as the Messiah and they do not receive the full benefit of who He is as the author of salvation. Other religions recognize Him as a teacher and even use scriptures, but because they do not fully recognize Him for His office as Messiah, they have no part in salvation (yikes, titles seem kind of important in that light).

I know people who know me as Randy their son, Randy their brother, Randy the guy who works at Burger King, Randy who builds web sites, and a lot of them know that I also am a teacher of the Bible, but not all of them recognize or acknowledge me as an apostle. Do you think they are able to receive the full benefit of my ministry? Of course not. You must receive an office in the name of that office if you want the reward of what that office has to offer, according to Jesus anyway.

Matt 10:41
41 "He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.

Whatever you receive a man as, that's what Christ is saying you will get from them. At work I am complemented on the great hamburgers I make because they see and recognize me as a cook (or more of a sandwich assembler). But if that is all they see in me, that is all they will get from me. And that is fine with me. If you just want me to make you a good burger, I can. I make 'em just like I like to eat 'em. I make them like I would make them for myself. My oldest daughter especially likes the way I make burgers and comes in for one every once in a while.

That is why Jesus asked the all too important question, "Who do you say that I am?" He was really saying, do you want the full benefit of all that I have to offer? Do you want all of me or just a partial revelation? Do you think I am religious, nice, a good guy, just a healer? or Do you believe I am the Christ, the Messiah, the Great Deliverer prophesied about in Scripture? How you receive a person can determine our eternal destiny. Imagine if you never accepted the one who led you to Jesus as a messenger from God or never accepted the message that person spoke about the way to salvation?

Steve, I think you brought an excellent point to discuss in the forum on the subject of apostles and whether or not they should use their titles, or any minister or business person for that matter. In the Yellow Pages a plumber makes sure you see him as a plumber so that he can provide the services he is able to render and receive a reward for his services. Apostles are the same way, they want others to see them for who they are so that both parties can be benefited. You get your drains unclogged and the plumber gets to eat and pay his bills, except ours is a spiritual reward. In fact to this day, I have never asked for a financial offering for anything I do for Christ in ministry (just to give you an idea of where my heart is at in the use of my title). I have no books or tapes to sell over the internet. Even articles I print up I give out free of charge. I make my own living by the works of my own hands and have sent hundreds or even thousands of bibles to West Africa without taking up a single offering, just to let you know where my heart is at in the use of my title.

I am not looking for any worldly benefit for the use of my gift. I want to see believers become all that Christ called them to be by them accepting all the God has for them, including the gift of an apostle or prophet in the name of an apostle or prophet. 

On the other point, in our church we do use the title of Deacon and the title of Elder, and for the Nursery, we even announce who the Nursery workers are to honor them for what we feel is a valuable ministry and the head of the Nursery department in case others are interested in working in the Nursery. If you want a copy of the Pastor's message on audio tape, they even announce who the sound man is. I think Sound Man Joe is an awesome title...LOL (LOL added to make sure we are staying in love and not discussing our differences like this guy----> angry ) 

Regarding "pride" in the use of the title apostle, I find little reason for it. Calling yourself "the world's garbage", to quote the NLT Bible, is very little reason to boast. In my experience, I have only found trouble for using the title. I have found that I can avoid being persecuted by "not" using the title, but to me that is the same as avoiding persecution by not using the title of "Christian" and refusing to allow others to associate me as a fellow believer.

1 Cor 4:13
...we are treated like the world's garbage, like everybody's trash-- right up to the present moment.

In the use of my title, I am more asking for trouble than I am asking for someone to roll out the red carpet, so to speak (at least that is my experience). Using the title, for me, has been a badge of suffering.

The Word of God says that faith comes by hearing. My idea is that if nobody ever uses the title apostle, who will ever believe that apostles or prophets exist today and are suppose to be in active use by our Lord? How can apostles and prophets mentor others with the same call if nobody can find where they are at?

I know there are apostles and prophets out there who call themselves "minister" or "pastor" because they are overly concerned about what their peers or fellow associates might think of them. To me, that is avoiding persecution, to use another title to replace one that is less accepted or ill thought of by a lot of Christians.

The reason I started this post was to talk about and bring comfort to those apostles who are having the "treated like the world's garbage" experience, which are the sufferings associated with the call and not so much the honor.