By virtue of their ordination, clerical ministers of all denominations consider themselves to be set apart for the special purpose of serving God, by serving His people.
Whether the minister calls him or herself a pastor or priest, he or she will see themselves differently than what their congregations perceive them to be. The success of a Pastor/Priest depends on discovering and adjusting to the congregation’s expectations, in the hope that he could gently lead them to a higher realization of the truth.
Generally, congregations perceive their ministers as representing one of two categories, that of the Priest or that of the Pastor. The Priest is more of a mediator, while the Pastor is more of a facilitator.
In the category of the Priest, the minister is considered to be an invaluable resource. He is the sole, validly authorized person to consecrate the Sacraments. He is the one who is invested by supreme authority with the responsibility to convey the divine message of the Gospel as an ambassador of Christ. The Priest is considered to be a visible example of how to walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. People see the Priest as an example of godly virtues that should be imitated, even if we don’t understand them. The Priest serves as a form of mediator between God and the people.
In the category of the Pastor, the minister is viewed more as a teacher or facilitator that guides Christian disciples in how to live according to the higher principles of Christ. The Pastor is valued in so far as he can present a variety of attractive options towards spiritual progress according to his expertise, while respecting the freedom of others to make spiritual choices according to their best judgement.
The Pastor is priestly in the sense that he also performs rituals during particular seasons of his parishioners, but for the most part, Pastors are facilitators who show The Way, while Priests are seen as venues toward The Way.
Those who have a priestly view of ministry, will expect a communal relationship with God. Those who see Pastors as facilitators, usually expect to experience growth in their personal relationship with God.
Usually, churches and ministers that clash are because their perceptions of the ministry are in conflict.