Leadership Structure

Each RCA congregation has a body called a consistory that oversees its ministry. Besides the minister(s), the consistory includes elders and deacons who are elected from the congregation.

While elders, deacons, and ministers of word and sacrament are called from among the people, we believe the Spirit of the Lord appoints them to their special tasks, and they are responsible first of all to the Lord of the Church.

A governing body called a classis oversees ministers and congregations in a specific geographic area.


In each congregation, the three offices of minister of Word and sacrament, elders and deacons are brought together in the consistory.

As the liturgy states, by gathering the three offices, "the consistory continues the full ministry of Christ in our day."

This gathering of officers is the governing body of the local congregation and is chosen periodically from the membership of the congregation.

It is responsible for all the spiritual and practical day-today affairs of the church.

The minister is always the president of consistory.

While it usually meets together, the consistory is divided into two orders. One order is that of the elders. Elders are responsible for sound teaching and discipline within the church and for the spiritual well-being of the congregation. The elders are to make sure that members are nurtured through Scripture, worship, the sacraments, and prayer.

The other order in the consistory is that of the deacons. Deacons play a key role in moving their churches in the missions of justice, mercy, and compassion. They focus on six key areas of concern:

1. Stewardship education and congregational giving
2. Special individual and family concerns
3. Mission development
4. Disaster response and volunteer service opportunities
5. Hunger advocacy and Reformed World Service
6. Caring for creation and simple living.