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 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 currently meets monthly.
The Pastor is often referred to as 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.
Elders and deacons are elected by the congregation, usually for three years (see Church Order Article 4, page 124). The task of the elders, together with the minister, is the pastoral oversight of the congregation (see Church Order Article 10b, page 126). The elders visit each home in their district at least once per year.
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 Church Order 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.
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 Lord.
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 National Structure of the Reformed Churches
(Church Order 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. The Christian Reformed Church of 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 and 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. For more information see our denominational website: http://www.crca.org.au
Reformed Theological College (RTC)
This college, located in Geelong, is where many of our pastors are trained. 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 or the RTC website: http://www.rtc.edu.au