Our Form of Church
Our Church Order (Constitution)
Like all churches we need some
kind of rule book by which we organise ourselves. The rules we use are
called the Church Order, which translates into practical life our
thinking about the Church.
The first section is about the Offices of the Church. Although we
believe every believer holds the office of Christian we believe that
Christ has instituted at least three special offices for the good
ordering of His church: ministers (pastors), elders and deacons.
The second section of the Church Order deals with The Task and
Activities of the Church. The most obvious activity is worship. We
encourage all our members whenever possible to attend both the morning
and the evening worship services. The other task deals with membership.
We welcome infant children of believing parents through baptism, older
children into communicant membership through public profession of faith
and new Christians through adult baptism (if not previously baptised)
and profession of faith.
The third section deals with The Assemblies of the Church such as the
Session, Classis and Synod.
The last section of the Church order deals with The Admonition and
Discipline of the church. When a member of the church is openly sinful,
or grows indifferent to Christ and his church, the elders may restrict
certain membership privileges, ask for special prayers, or even remove
such a person from membership. Discipline with patience, prayer, and
penitence can help us all walk more faithfully in the way of the Lord.
Since the Church is Christ's body in the world, our love for Christ is
reflected in our love for the church. But our loyalty to Christ must
always exceed our loyalty to the church.
The Session is the governing body of the local church and is made up of
the pastor(s) the elders and the deacons. Meetings of Session are open
to church members except when matters of a confidential nature are being
discussed. Our Session meets once every 2 weeks, and presently consists
of 8 elders, 2 deacons and 1 pastor and one associate minister who is
set aside to work as a chaplain in the Nepean District Hospital.
The Pastor is often referred to a the preaching/teaching elder to
indicate that his office is not higher than that of the other elders. He
is responsible to the Session. The Pastor stays in a congregation until
such time as he sees fit to accept another call that is extended to him.
His tasks: To lead the worship services, to preach the gospel, instruct
the young people and new converts and lead the congregation in its
outreach to the community. With the other members of Session he visits
the sick and others in need of pastoral care (see Article 10a,b, page
When a congregation wants to have a pastor, then the Session invites the
congregation to submit names of suitable men. The Session then makes
enquires about the men and comes to the congregation with (usually) 2
names, and the communicant members are entitled to vote. The man
receiving the most votes receives the 'call'. He is then free to accept
or decline the call.
To be eligible for a call a man must have completed the prescribed
training at the Reformed Theological College or another accredited
institution. He also needs to have passed an oral exam set by the
Elders and deacons are elected by the congregation, usually for three
years (see Article 4, page 124). The task of the elders, together with
the minister, is the pastoral oversight of the congregation (see Article
10b, page 126). The elders visit each home in their district at least
once per year.
If you have a matter which you believe should be drawn to the attention
of the Session, then you should contact your elder who will then convey
the matter to Session verbally, or you may write a letter to the Session
The deacons are responsible for the ministry of mercy to the needy in
the congregation as well as the community at large. Funds are collected
by offering for this work. The deacons do not hand out cash to those in
need, but either pay bills as they deem necessary, or supply goods such
as food parcels (see Article 24, page 127).
The Board of Management
This is appointed by the Session to
look after the general maintenance of the church buildings and grounds
as well as matters of finance. As the Church does not have a full time
care taker, it is important for us if we notice anything that needs
attention to approach one of the members of this committee.
One of the most important tasks of the COM is to prepare the annual
budget under the guidance of the Session, and once it is approved by the
congregation, to administer the church’s funds according to that budget.
Money Matters: To finance the day to day ministry of the church each
communicant member and those baptised who have started work are
approached with regard to giving their first part of their income to the
The offerings in the worship
services are always announced beforehand so that you can consider what
you will give.
As a church we encourage tithing
(10% of personal income), not as a legalistic rule, but as a guide by
which we express our thanks to God for all that He has done for us. This
tithe is encouraged to be given as a pledge which is set aside from
one’s income before allocating any part of it to other commitments.
Beyond the pledges for the immediate work of the church we do together,
offerings are taken up for work we do as a denomination on a national
basis. The work supported in this way is too much for one congregation
to do, such as overseas missions.
This committee prepares liturgy and music for our worship
services, with the aim being to do so in all services once we have
enough musicians and the capability of organising this on a weekly
Those with musical ability who wish to become involved are very much
encouraged to contact this committee in order to become part of the
music ministry in our church. Information as to contact people is found
in the front of the local church directory.
Outreach Task Group
This is composed of people directly involved in the outreach work of the
church, and includes both the Evangelism and Youth Elders as well as the
pastor. It oversights the outreach work of the church and makes
recommendations to Session as to future directions in the mission work
of the congregation.
STRUCTURE OF THE REFORMED CHURCHES
(see Articles 26-57, page 128-132)
The basic unit is the local church, which is governed by the local
session or council, elected by the congregation.
All the local Sessions within a state meet together once in 3 months as
a Classis. Thus CRC Perth is part of the Classis of
Western Ausralia. A
Classis can only discuss matters raised by one of the Sessions. Each
Session sends its pastor and elder delegate to the Classis meetings. The
Classis can then make decisions which are binding on the local
congregations - such as combined projects.
The Classis of the 6 states meet together every 3 years as a Synod. Each
Classis sends two pastors, and two elder delegates to a Synod. The Synod
can only deal with matters raised by Classis. This means that all
matters that come to Synod have first been put forward by a Session,
approved by the State Classis, before going to Synod.
The activities of the Classis are funded by what is known as Classical
Quota payments which each Congregation makes on the basis of so many
dollars per communicant member. Similarly, the activities we do on a
national level (decided by Synod), are funded in part by what we call
Synodical Quota payments. There are a number of activities which we do
together as a denomination.
World Development & World Relief Relief Work Group (WD&WR)
This committee distributes the funds collected by our congregation for
overseas relief work. For example they investigated the best way to help
in Ethiopia and decided that World Vision was the best and so they
channelled the $100,000 collected by our people through this
organisation. This was done with the agreement that none of our funds
would be sued for World Vision administrative costs.
WD&WR is also involved directly in a long term resettlement program of
Javanese immigrants, a child nutrition and rehabilitation program in the
Philippines, orphanages and an abandoned children's home. Uganda,
several small scale projects in Indonesia and an orphan and widow
program in India. WR receives its funds from two annual offerings in all
our churches, plus any additional offerings a local church may wish to
Solomons Task Group
This body is partly funded by the Synodical Quota payments as well as by
collections held in all the churches each year. The Solomons Task Group
at present supports two missionary families: Rev Kevin Rietveld and his
wife Machi as well and Frank and Janet de Hoog.
Reformed Theological College (RTC)
This college, located in Geelong, is where our pastors are trained. If
ever you go to Geelong, make sure you visit the College. Some of our
Synodical Quota payments go to the College.
To help support the College, members are encouraged to become members of
the Association for Christian Tertiary Education (A.C.T.E.) which runs
The College also has full time and correspondence courses for those who
do not wish to train for the ministry but desire to understand the Bible
better as well as do some leadership training. Information on these
courses can be gleaned from the clerk of Session.