A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF CORAM DEO REFORMATION CHURCH’S POLITY
Jesus Christ has been given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18), and he is head of the church (Ephesians 4:15; 5:23; Colossians 1:18). This is fundamental, foundational and paramount in any discussion about church polity (government). But the question is: how then does Christ, who is seated in heaven at God’s right hand, exercise this rule and authority in local churches on earth?
While many today may not think much about this nor find this topic very exciting, church government is a very important and necessary reality. Every church has some system by which matters are decided, decisions are made, and issues that arise are dealt with. Who decides what to do with Sunday offerings? How and when do we administer holy communion? Who ensures that the sick or elderly are visited? What music will be sung in worship? Will there be a praise band? Who will accompany congregational singing? What guest minister may preach next Sunday? Obviously, these questions and many other matters related to church life cannot be avoided.
One church may decide that the members of the congregation all have an equal and authoritative say, and therefore have many congregational meetings where the majority rules. Another church may recognize the Pope, or an archbishop, or their pastor as having final authority.
Coram Deo Reformation Church’s government is not congregational, where the majority of the congregation has authority, nor Episcopal, where one person is elected or appointed to govern those under him, but Presbyterian, where the rule of the local church is by multiple, elected elders. We believe that this church polity is what Christ, who is head of the church, has set forth in his Word.
This means that we have a plurality of elders. These elders, with the pastor, serve as the ruling body of the church (Acts 14:23; 20:17; Phil. 1:1). We do not believe it is Christ’s will that one person has ruling authority. The elders are given oversight of the church by Christ (Acts 20:28; I Pet. 5:2-3;I Tim. 3:5; 5:17; I Thes. 5:12; Heb. 13:7, 17, 24). The elders and pastor together are called the consistory.
We also recognize the office of “deacon.” Deacons assist the elders in ministering to the congregation and are involved primarily in the ministry of mercy (Phil. 1:1; Acts 6:1-6; cf. I Tim. 3:8-13). When the elders, pastor and deacons meet, this is called the council.
These office-bearers are not appointed by a distant organization, but are elected by the members of the congregation as, for example, we find described in Acts 6:5-6. The church should ensure that those elected meet the biblical qualification for office found in I Timothy 3, Titus 1, and I Peter 5.
As a member congregation of the United Reformed Churches in North America (URCNA), we are part of Classis Southwest U.S. which consists of URC churches in that region. Members have the right to appeal disputed matters to Classis and if they still believe they have been wronged, may appeal to Synod, which includes delegates from every URCNA and typically meets every other year.