This article examines representations of pastoral authority among mainstream church members in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark. We argue that the study of a possible crisis in ministry must include the church members’ perspective. Drawing on theories of societal and cultural changes and focusing on the concepts of increased individual choice, subjective turn and authenticity, as well as Weber’s typology of authority, we analyse the findings of a qualitative study among wedding couples in Denmark and a supplementary quantitative study among adult participants in a special church service for children. The findings indicate that church members evaluate the pastor either as a pre-established church representative or based on a more direct evaluation of personal qualities, but in both cases the evaluation places emphasis on the importance of the relationship between church member and pastor. We conclude that the representation of pastoral authority can be described as ‘relational authority’.
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