What Is the Difference Between Pastoral Care & Pastoral Ministry?

A pastor is a spiritual leader who in charge of a congregation.

Both pastoral care and pastoral ministry are roles used to describe positions of leaders in various Christian denominations. Christian organizations believe in God (the father), Jesus (the son) and the person of the Holy Spirit (the spirit of love)—collectively referred to as “the Godhead.” Christians believe that God created everything in the manifest world, and that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. They also believe that the Holy Spirit is available to lead and guide in life. Believers worship and serve Christ. Pastoral care and pastoral ministry both involve administering the love of Christ to others.

1 The Message

Christians believe that Jesus Christ was crucified on a cross to save all of humanity (who was doomed to perish because of sin). Then he rose victoriously from death into life and was seated, in heaven, at the right hand of the father. According to believers, Jesus was the sinless sacrifice and redeemer of all the good things that God originally intended for people to enjoy, such as good health, relationships, provision and fruitfulness—all through a close relationship with God.

2 About Pastoring

Christian pastors have numerous demands for their time and attention. They are responsible for a congregation of people, which means they must respond to the needs of those people and especially reach out to others who are not yet converted. Pastors also have the task of going into the world to witness and preach their religion to non-believers. A number of pastors have extensive traveling schedules in their mission of serving God. These demands can leave pastors feeling depleted of energy and in need of refreshing themselves. Pastors minister and must be ministered to as well.

3 Pastoral Ministry

Pastoral ministry is when an appointed leader (also known as a “pastor,” “shepherd,” "priest" or “bishop”) guides people in meeting their spiritual needs through Christ. The objective of pastoral ministry is to restore hope, faith and love in the hearts of God’s followers. The majority of ministering that takes place within a Christian denomination can be described as pastoral ministry. In pastoral ministry the minister helps to connect believers to Christ, the church and their communities. As stated by SJTW.com, “Pastoral ministry is bringing Christ’s compassion to people in emotional, mental, physical or spiritual need as well as helping others to recognize their gifts and empowering them to use these gifts in the service of others.” Examples of pastoral ministry include bereavement support, visiting the sick, ministering to the jailed, feeding the hungry, having church services, celebrating communion, participating in worship and other social activities.

4 Pastoral Care

According to Christian beliefs the spirit of a person influences every part of life. A spirit must be fed regularly according to the faith to keep it healthy and flourishing. Pastoral care is the ministry of spiritual care, education and counseling. The main focus is on the nurturing of each person’s spirit. A pastor, in the role of a spiritual nurturer, is the one who actually performs pastoral care. Pastoral care involves the tending of the pastor to those within the same community of faith. Every aspect of a pastor’s interactions with the people in the pastor’s realm of influence is a part of pastoral care. Pastoral care is a type of pastoral ministry.

5 Pastoral Care of Pastors

Pastoral care can include care specifically for a pastor. Pastoral care in this sense is the recharging of the pastor’s spiritual energy by another person. Some ministers who perform pastoral care are assigned to a particular pastor. In this case, pastoral care is designed to support the pastor in fulfilling his duties in ministry. Examples of pastoral care for a pastor may consist of managing a pastor’s ministry schedule, taking the pastor’s phone calls, responding to ministry requests and coordinating other aspects of a pastor’s ministry.

Trinise L. Castro has been writing on a variety of topics since 1995. Her work has appeared in "Healthy Families Rappahannock Area," where her health-related articles are published, and online at Gadling.com where she is a published travel writer. An expert real-estate writer, she has also contributed to AchieveRealEstateSolutions.com and SFGate.com. Castro is also a spokeswoman and entrepreneur.