The Reformed churches have sought to follow the practice of church government as recorded in the New Testament. The office of “elder” or “overseer” is called by God to shepherd and oversee the body of Christ by protecting, teaching, and leading. (Acts 20:17, 28; 1 Timothy 3:1 – 13, 5:17 – 25; Titus 1:5 – 7; 1 Peter 5:1 – 2)
The minister or pastor is a special kind of elder devoted to preaching and teaching (1 Timothy 5:17).
The other office called by God is “deacon” (Philippians 1:1, 1 Timothy 3:8, 12). Though every member of the church is called to minister or serve, deacons are those called to an official, public position within the church. They oversee the practical, material needs in the church by receiving the contributions of the congregation and distributing them appropriately. As such, they can also be called “ministers of mercy” since they are in the position of the church’s practical care ministry.
These offices form the consistory or governing body of a local church. They work together to maintain order in the local church so that it may carry out its mission to announce the good news of Christ and extend His Lordship throughout the world.