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Presiding over a Christian congregation, a pastor (abbreviated "Pr" or "Ptr," singularly, or "Ps," plural) provides guidance and advise to members of the church, the community, and others. A pastor's position is always ordained in the Protestant and Catholic faiths, as well as in Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, and Anglicanism. A pastor's licence or ordination is required in Methodism.

In the same way as shepherds care for their flock, pastors are expected to educate their flocks. To denote the appointed leadership in early Christianity, the New Testament often employs the terms "bishop" (Acts 20:28) and "presbyter" (1 Peter 5:1) throughout the text. To that end, when it comes to "overseeing" the flock of God, Peter encourages these specific workers to "act as shepherds" (1 Peter 5:2). As in Titus 1:5-6, the terms "bishop" and "presbyter" were occasionally used synonymously, indicating that they were interchangeable. A continuing disagreement exists amongst branches of Christianity, however, as to whether there are two ordained classes (presbyters and deacons) or three ordained classes (bishop and deaconesses) (bishops, priests, and deacons). Interestingly, the Presbyterian Church supports the first point of view. In contrast, Christians belonging to the Roman Catholic, Persian Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Moravian, Scandinavian Lutheran, Anglican, and Old Catholic traditions hold to the latter point of view and support the idea of apostolic succession (as opposed to the former).

In this case, the title "bishop" refers to the person who oversees the spiritual requirements of the whole flock and keeps a close eye on everything (i.e., a pastor). Qualifications according to the Bible must be met (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). The same function in the church is described by some Protestants regardless of whether they are termed an elder, bishop, or pastor. Presbyters were formerly only allowed to be males, but several Protestant denominations amended their policies in the 19th and 20th centuries to enable women to serve as pastors and elders. He or she should be older and more experienced in the religion (i.e., an elder), as well as someone who can make decisions and administer the business of the congregation.

A shepherd is a term that comes from the Latin word pastor, which means "pastor." "Pr" or "Ptr" (both singular) are acceptable abbreviations for the word when used as an ecclesiastical style or title (plural).