Throughout the years of my ministry I have had a great interest in and love for the polity of the churches. The more I studied it, the more I became convinced that only the truly Reformed church polity does full justice to the Lordship of our King and Saviour Christ Jesus, the only universal Bishop of the church, as well as to the freedom and responsibility of the churches. This Reformed church polity stresses and upholds the autonomy of the lo­cal churches while, at the same time, maintaining and impressing upon the churches their mutual obligation to practise the bond in the unity of the true faith.

The number of trustworthy explanations of our Church Order is rather limited, especially when we refer to the English-speaking world. Besides, almost all of the latter are infected with the virus of hierarchy. Many of our office-bearers expressed the wish to have a reliable guide to the use of our Church Order and for a considerable time have urged me to provide them with one. They could have urged a far less pleasant task upon me.

The present work is the fruit of many years of study, although no effort has been spared to keep matters simple. The readers will look in vain for many historical particulars or numerous quotations or frequent references to decisions of various assemblies or to works of renowned scholars. It was not my striving to give an historical review or a scholarly treatment of our Church Order. The subtitle expresses precisely what my intention was: to give a practical guide to its use. No one should expect more than that.

It would attest to ingratitude if I did not acknowledge the help of two brothers who offered valuable linguistic advice. They are Dr. W. Helder and Mr. R. Koat M.A. They dedicated many hours and days to the task of scru­tinizing the copy to remove whatever linguistic impurities might be found in it. If any have remained, blame only the author, not his advisers.

The result of the above-mentioned labours is herewith presented to our readers. It is my sincere wish and heartfelt prayer that the present work may be of service to both our office-bearers and our membership in general, for the upbuilding of the churches that Christ bought with His precious blood and in whose midst He walks, uniting and preserving them by His Spirit in the unity of the true faith, to the glory of God the Father.


September 1990

W.W.J. VanOene