Our Church Government

Our representative, or presbyterial, order places authority in a series of representative assemblies of those elected and ordained to offices within the church. Our order is at the midpoint between two other forms of church government: the episcopal form that gives authority to bishops, and the congregational form that grants congregations individual autonomy and provides only loose associations with other churches.

What are the offices of our church?

We have four offices. Three offices are involved in the government of the church: minister of Word and sacrament, elder, and deacon. A fourth office, General Synod professor of theology, is employed in the seminaries for the training of students for the ministry. Those who are ordained to office act as servants who represent Christ through the action of the Holy Spirit. The existence of offices in the church does not diminish the importance of the common ministry of all members of the church. The church has one ministry–the ministry of Christ.

What is the role of elders? Of deacons?

A simple explanation is that elders are responsible for the spiritual health of the church and its members, and the deacons focus on stewardship. For more information, click here.

What are the assemblies of our church?

The four assemblies, or governing bodies, are the consistory, the classis, the regional synod, and the General Synod.

Why do we rely on assemblies?

Following the example of the early church, we believe that decisions should be made by gathering people together to discern the will of God. Since the whole church cannot meet together at one time and place to make decisions, representative governing bodies made of those who hold an office within the church are established to carry out the work of the church at various levels. The unity of the church is preserved when we accept the decisions made by those who serve in the assemblies of the church.