The importance of consistorial leadership in pastoral care
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This project is designed to provide a basis of understanding of how pastoral care, demonstrated by the elders, pastors, and deacons, benefits individuals in their spiritual life, as well as strengthens and revitalizes the church.
Chapter One presents an historical study of the ministry of the elders, pastors and deacons during the time of John Calvin in the city of Geneva, Switzerland. This study brings to light the significance of the pastoral ministry of these three offices as a living out of the theology of the Reformation. The importance placed upon pastoral care through visitation, discipline and preaching is highlighted in this chapter.
Chapter Two looks to the New Testament to understand what the Word of God teaches in regard to the offices of the elder, pastor, and deacon. The qualifications for and responsibilities of these three offices are discussed in this chapter. This chapter also considers whether the example of pastoral care carried on by these three offices in Geneva during the time of Calvin was scriptural.
Chapter Three presents a contemporary study of the pastoral care that has been demonstrated in the Classis of Pleasant Prairie over the past 50 – 60 years. The chapter includes findings from a survey of past and present elders, pastors, and deacons. Material in regard to pastoral care from other sources, such as the minutes of the Classis of Pleasant Prairie, the Synod of the Heartland (earlier known as the Synod of the West, and the Synod of Iowa), and the RCA's General Synod is also included.
Chapter Four brings together the three previous chapters with additional support for the importance of pastoral care by the elders, pastors, and deacons. This chapter includes ways in which I sought to strengthen the pastoral care and leadership of First Reformed Church in Aplington, Iowa, as well as providing some suggestions for others churches as they evaluate their pastoral ministry.
This project identifies pastoral care as an important aspect of the ministry of the Reformation. This pastoral care has a scriptural basis for it. The study challenges the church of today to be more intentional in evaluating how it is carrying out this ministry and to understand the significance that this ministry has to the spiritual health of individuals and to the overall health of the church.