Become a pastor, a counselor, or a missionary?

I want to serve God.

In the Christian world, there are many opportunities to get pastoral training and then to practice the profession of pastor, parish priest, or missionary. We want to answer all the important questions about the profession of a pastor. What does a pastor actually earn? How does it work to become a pastor? What is the difference between a pastor, missionary, or priest? And what do they do all day anyway?

We want to help you to gain clarity in order to get closer to your career aspiration. As an academy for pastoral leaders, it is important to us that you find your right place.

Just look around. On this page, we also introduce you to a new profession in the church work sector every month. Have fun browsing.

Table of content

  1. Pastor, Missionary, Priest – simply explained

  2. What Does a Pastor Actually Earn?

  3. What Does a Pastor do?

  4. Where do I Get Training?

  5. Who is Suitable?

  6. Conclusion

What's the difference?

Pastor, Counselor, or Missionary?

All three professions have the same goal. They want to serve God by connecting people with His word and helping them to grow strong in their spiritual life.

A pastor or shepherd is the one leading a local church. A pastor has to organize his congregation, preach sermons, counsel people with needs, pray for the sick, and raise leaders.

A counselor is someone people seek when they need advice. This can be an individual, a couple, or a group. He or she has to listen in order to understand the specific situation their client might have to help them with clarity, spiritual advice, or prayer.

A missionary is like a pastor and is someone who brings God’s Word to people, trains leaders, and or helps to build a community. The difference is that he or she is usually dealing with another culture or ethnic group. The challenge is to understand what the people you want to minister really think and feel.

The term “pastor,” “priest,” or “minister” are definitions by which different denominations describe their spiritual leaders. The term “pastor” refers to the Latin word “shepherd,” describing the task of herding a flock. It is most often used in the evangelical world. The “priest” refers to the office of someone connecting people with God by being a connector. Often, the Catholic church refers to its leaders as priests. A priest is normally not married. A “minister” is a general term translating to “servant.” He or she can work as a teacher, bishop, counselor, pastor, or choir leader.


How Much Does a Pastor, Counselor, or Missionary Earn?

When it comes to a pastor’s salary, there is a wide range. In large churches, the pastor or minister earns more because the congregation has more funds.

The average salary for priests is $53,000 per year. The top 10% earn more than $85,000 per year and the bottom 10% earn $26,000 or less per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2020.

In an evangelical church, one can expect a pastor to earn between $35,000 and $45,000 annually. But if you pastor a large congregation it can be substantially more.

Missionaries typically get paid by a missions organization. They receive the funding from a group of supporters or by a sending church. The income varies a lot according to where your destination is. Your lifestyle has to somehow fit into the community you serve. In addition, you have costs for furlough, healthcare at home, and other insurance. Expect an annual salary between $15,000 and $25,000. Consider that the cost of living in the country you are planning to serve in is usually much different than in your home country.

Counselors make an average salary between $35,000 to $50,000 depending on what field they are working in.

If you have more questions about this topic, refer to your respective church.









lead, serve, advice

What Does a Pastoral Leader Do?

The term “Pastor” means “shepherd” and shepherding is roughly what a pastor, missionary, or priest does, except that they are dealing with people and not sheep.  Have you ever seen a flock of sheep? They can be totally quiet and confident in one moment, but then running around frantically the next. This profession is one of the most diverse and fulfilling tasks on earth if you are called to do it. You can make a difference in people’s lives like no other profession can. A pastor or minister does the following:

  1. Preaches and teaches.
  2. Leads and builds group/teams.
  3. Offers support through listening and prayer.
  4. Organizes events.
  5. Oversees finances and resource management.

Look at those leaders

Pastoral leaders influence others.

Pastoral leaders should have a strong influence on society by shaping, edifying, and changing it. Here are some examples:

Paul of Tarsus

Paul was one of the first pastors in a multicultural society. He has helped shape Christianity to its present form. He moved through the Mediterranean area and planted churches. He was later arrested and brought to Rome because of his faith.


Hildegard of Bingen

This abbess dealt with the cosmos, ethics, music, and medicine from the perspective of faith. Her visions and reports are still known today. She traveled through Europe on her horse to encourage the people and admonish the powerful.


Martin Luther

We know him as the great Reformer of the church. His foundations were “sola scriptura” (Scripture alone), “sola gratia” (by grace alone), and “sola fide” (by faith alone). With this, he made the established Catholic Church his enemy. His legacy has shaped modern Christianity.


Martin Luther King Jr.

MLK was not only a civil rights activist in the U.S., but also a pastor. His famous speech which included the phrase, “I have a dream,” still resonates today. His goal was equality for the black population and the abolition of racial segregation.

What degree is required?

College, Seminary, or Bible School?

Most churches and Christian organizations require at least an undergraduate degree such as a Bachelor of Theology. Some require a Masters level degree. For many later seeking a job in a church or Christian organization, the cost of tuition is a stumbling block. Costs vary between $25,000 and $200,000 for a degree.

In addition, statistics show that, on average, more than half of pastoral leaders feel that their training did not prepare them well for their professional life. This makes the decision to choose the right school or university for you all the more important.

Job description

Serve God in Different Ways

In the coming years, the U.S. will seek many trained pastors, missionaries, and counselors. The chances of employment are good if you are qualified. A mere theological education is often not sufficient for students who are also looking to gain practical skills such as: How do I solve conflicts? How do I preach in such a way that my listeners receive my message? How should I stay on track with all of my complex tasks?

At THS, we equip you with the most common skills that you will need to fulfill your calling.

Pastor & Pfarrer





God calls people to serve him.

Am I Suited?

Look at the disciples of Jesus. They weren't born heroes, but God called them. If you serve God by becoming a pastor or minister, he will prepare you sufficiently.
You believe: Jesus Christ lived, rose from the dead after His crucifixion, and is the Son of God. You believe that your guilt is forgiven through His sacrifice. For you, the Bible is the Word of God.
You can deal with resistance. Despite your best intentions, you will encounter headwinds. That's because people reject Jesus' claim on their lives and you will be met with that.
You can work with people. Pastors have to get out of their office and be on the streets. They visit people, like to help, and are good listeners. They are passionate about bringing people into a relationship with God.
You are called to do this. It's not always easy to find out, but these statements can help:
- I have a deep desire for the work of the kingdom of God.
- I prefer this work over everything else.
- Other people confirm this.
- I've been thinking about this for a long time.
Pastors, priests, missionaries, or counselors aim to exert a positive influence on their environment. They shepherd their fellow men and women and serve them through their faith in Jesus Christ. In order to be successful, you need a solid education and practical training. The tasks are manifold and the salary is sufficient.

If you would like to see whether or not you would be suitable for admittance into our program, take the THS Suitability Test below which we have crafted specially for you.

Find out now!

Am I Called to Serve God as a Pastoral Leader?

Pastor ist ein Beruf, der extrem vielseitig ist und deinem Leben Sinn verleihen kann wie wenig Anderes. Mach unsere Berufungsanalyse um herauszufinden ob du Pastor werden solltest.