Consistory Resources

Whether this is your first time on consistory or you’ve been on before, you know that your responsibilities are many and varied. More than likely, you will need forms, descriptions, or even legal paperwork during your term. Here, you’ll find resources to help you serve in your role as an elder, deacon, or minister.

Understanding your role on consistory

The consistory governs the life and ministry of a congregation. It is made up of those who hold three offices in the church: minister, elder, and deacon. The three offices within the consistory complement each other and are mutually supportive and mutually accountable.

Elders

Elders are primarily and particularly responsible for the spiritual oversight of the congregation. Take a deeper dive into the role of elder by reading The Ministry of the Elder. For a print version of The Ministry of the Elder, order from Faith Alive Christian Resources.

Deacons

The primary responsibilities of deacons fall into six main categories, including stewardship and mission. Take a deeper dive into the role of the deacon by reading The Ministry of the Deacon. You can access The Ministry of the Deacon in Chinese, Korean, and Spanish, or you can order a print version from Faith Alive.  

Ministers

The primary responsibilities of the minister are preaching and teaching. Ministers—men and women—are called by God to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, administer the sacraments, and care for the members of the congregation. They are to build up and equip the church for its ministry in the world.

Leadership development and spiritual direction

In your service on consistory, you are involved in church leadership. Here are some resources to help you lead well as a member of consistory.

Elder/Deacon Leadership Development Journey

This printable e-book lays out the biblical foundations for the ministry of elders and deacons, explains the role of the consistory in RCA church order, and provides the curriculum for a three-year leadership development process your consistory can go through together.

Elder and Deacons: Called to Serve

This training resource, last updated in 2015, helps RCA deacons and elders better prepare to serve as leaders in their congregations. This book is currently available only in print from Faith Alive Christian Resources.

Purposeful Living curriculum

Purposeful Living is a structured and Scripture-based process to find your calling from God and fulfill your God-given purpose. This process, which was developed by and for RCA leaders, will guide you toward answers to foundational questions, like: “Who is God shaping me to be?” so that you can fulfill your calling from God.

Consistory devotions

The consistory devotions were designed to help your consistory reflect on biblical leadership as you discern God’s will for your church. They were written by a group of Reformed Church in America members who have served as elders and deacons in their own churches. There are enough devotions for one year of monthly meetings. Access the devotions online or download and print the PDF version.

Consistory case studies

This set of case studies offers a chance to reflect on possible situations your consistory might encounter. The way people interact either helps or hurts their ability to solve problems. There are many excellent biblical and theological studies about the consistory, church offices, mission, vision, and conflict. These studies are meant to complement them by offering a communication process perspective.

Fulfilling consistorial responsibilities

Quick links to materials and forms you may need in your service on consistory and resources that help you understand the way things work in RCA church order.

Forms/Certificates

A directory of denominational forms and certificates for baptism, marriage, membership, and more with links to access these forms when you need them.

Church membership

Elders are responsible for the oversight and care of your church’s membership. This paper considers what membership means and how a church might distinguish types of membership. To prepare people to become members of your church, you might want to consider this membership class resource available via Faith Alive.

Consistorial Report Form (CRF)

Annually, your consistory is asked to fill out the consistorial report form. In your annual report, you provide information on your church’s membership, like attendance, baptisms, and giving.

Pastoral searches and transitions

If your church needs to call a new pastor, you may be wondering about how that process works. The Pastoral Search Handbook walks you through the steps you’ll need to take. For more support during your pastoral transition, connect with our Office of Ministry Services.

Church order

Church order provides an organized way for us to live together and serve together as the body of Christ. Church order can be particularly helpful when we disagree. The RCA’s church order is described in the Book of Church Order (BCO). If you have questions about your role on consistory, the process for calling and installing a pastor, synod, or anything else about RCA church order, look to the BCO for guidance.

Judicial matters

It’s preferable to discreetly correct a fault, but sometimes an offense rises to the level of involving a church’s board of elders, the classis, or even, in rare cases, the General Synod. The RCA’s Book of Church Order (BCO) outlines judicial procedures for handling discipline that requires the involvement of one of these higher assemblies.

Stewardship

While cultivating a culture of stewardship in your church is especially integral for deacons, the whole consistory has a part to play. We’ve compiled some resources to help church leaders cultivate stewardship and generosity.

Navigating legal and financial matters

Incorporation as a local church

The incorporation of local churches isn’t a requirement in the RCA, but it has a number of advantages. Learn how incorporation benefits your church and what is involved in the process of incorporating as a local church.

Creating bylaws for your church

It is helpful to the ongoing life of the church to have a written record of the customs and practices that govern the life of the church. Bylaws can provide that record. At minimum, the BCO requires that every church have a written bylaw or rule of order selecting a classis-approved method for the nomination and election of elders and deacons (1.I.2.14).

Church treasurer and administrator resources

If you’re a treasurer, you may need support and information that other consistory members don’t. This resource collection provides guidance and information for church treasurers and administrators. In this section, you’ll find information about church and denominational finances, donations, taxes, insurance benefits, and more.

Sexual harassment and abuse policies

Having clear sexual harassment policies and procedures in place can both help prevent sexual abuse and help you to address sexual abuse if it does occur within your church. Education and training opportunities can also help your church to become safer and more hospitable.

Church safety

Church safety is important. This resource offers suggested steps you can take to create and maintain a safer church environment. They include education and training; background, credit, and reference checks; and self-disclosure.

Record retention

There’s no one-size-fits-all policy for the records RCA churches should maintain and how they should be managed. But these guidelines and suggestions can help your church develop and improve your record-keeping system.

Risk assessment

It’s important to make sure your church is doing things correctly from a legal perspective and to manage the legal risks to which your church is exposed. Your consistory can use this risk assessment checklist to evaluate and manage your church’s legal risks for the health of your church’s ministry.