Protestantism is that form of Christian faith that originated from the Protestant reformation. It was raised from protests against the malpractices which were so prevalent in Catholic religion and thus acquired its name from this idea of Protest. It originated in Germany, in 1517, when Martin Luther published in 95 theses. There are several points of differences between Catholicism and Protestantism, one of the most important differences being, unlike Catholicism, Protestantism does not have a hierarchical structure. This is so because the latter believes that, to reach God, a general man does not need the help of a mediator.
However, while carrying out reforms in the Catholic religion, Luther made too little changes. Thus in practice, Protestantism carried many traditions of the Catholic religion. Thus Protestantism at present does have a hierarchical set up, though, the hierarchy is somewhat different from Catholic church hierarchy. In the case of Protestantism, there are various stages of leadership, structured in a hierarchical way.
- The senior pastor- Most Protestant churches have a senior pastor or a clergyman, who got the formal recognition, that is the denomination’s approval, to serve God in this process. If the Church is of a greater size, there can be associate pastors, along with him or her, who are in charge of specialized departments, such as, the education of the youth etc,
- Pastors- Unlike the Catholic Church, the Protestant churches do not have any priests. In the place of priest they have a few pastors, under the leadership of the senior pastor. The duty of the pastors is to preach the religious scriptures.
- Elders or lay leaders- The second rank of the leadership differs according to the traditions of various churches. The elders are lay leaders who are supposed to advise the church in execution of various duties. In some churches, they are the spiritual leaders of the congregation, while in some others, they act as a board of directors, in charge of managing a company.
- Deacons- Some churches also have an official post of the deacons. In most of the churches the deacon is to serve as the minister or service, and their duty consists of assisting ministers, in reaching out to the poor and the sick people. Some of the Deacons also help in the administration of sacrament, and in very special case, with the permission of the Bishop can also administer the sacrament themselves, if for any reason where no other clergy is available at that time. In some churches, again, the Deacon is a person who is on the way of getting ordination to become a clergy.
Protestantism can be found in all the populated continents of the world. Most of the Protestants are members of denominations such as, Anglicanism, Baptist Church, Lutheranism, Methodism, etc. In the case of each denomination, the lucid leadership hierarchy changes to an extent. In case of the Anglican church hierarchy, for example, retains the term priest, but their duty is similar to a minister. However, the idea of ‘priesthood of any believer’ which implies that each person communicate directly to God, diminishes the chance of a hierarchy.