Consistory Devotions

Setting the stage for godly leadership

The consistory devotions were designed to help consistories (elders and deacons) reflect on biblical leadership as they seek to discern God’s will for the churches they serve. They were written by a group of Reformed Church in America members who have served as elders and deacons in their own churches.

Read the consistory devotions

Team Building

Scripture: 2 Samuel 23:8–18

In this passage we read of the exploits of David’s mighty men. Some were related; some were in trouble with the law. Most likely, none of them would have chosen to hang out together. Yet they did. David built them into a team that was amazingly efficient at what it did.

As a group:

1. Read the passage.
2. What did the mighty men have in common?
3. What were they committed to?

Reflect individually or in small groups:

1. How do you think David brought out the best in these men?
2. How has consistory been a good team to be part of?
3. What one or two things could you do to strengthen the consistory team?

Pray together, as a whole consistory.

Sample prayer:

God, you have called each one of us to serve on consistory at this time. What a humbling honor. Please knit us together as David did his mighty men so that you might be glorified. Amen.

Decision Making

Scripture: Nehemiah 1:1–11

As cupbearer to the king of Persia, Artaxerxes, Nehemiah was living well for one in exile. He held a high position and was well connected. He had position and comfort–an easy life. The time came, however, for him to make a hard decision.

As a group:

1. Read the passage.
2. What hard decision did Nehemiah make?
3. Why was it a hard decision? What risks were involved?

Reflect individually or in small groups:

1. How did Nehemiah go about making his decision?
2. When faced with making difficult decisions, what do you do?
3. Are there difficult decisions you need to make in your life? In the church?

Pray together, as a whole consistory.

Sample prayer:

God, sometimes life isn’t easy. There are times when it isn’t all black and white, and we as leaders have to live in the gray. Help us recognize those times and value them. Help us bring all our decisions before you. Right now, we pray about… Amen.

Servant Leadership

Scripture: John 13:1–15

Just before Jesus is betrayed, he shows us what it really means to be a leader who serves. Wrapping a towel around himself, Jesus performs the task that was ordinarily left to the servants.

As a group:

1. Read this passage.
2. What act of service does Jesus perform?
3. What does Jesus know in verse 3 that enables him to do this?

Reflect individually or in small groups:

1. Why does it take confidence to be a servant leader?
2. Where does that confidence need to be placed?
3. What act of service could you share in this week?

As a consistory you might consider, rather than doing business as usual, using a meeting or a part of a retreat to have a foot-washing service together.

Pray together, as a whole consistory.

Sample prayer:

Lord, thank you for being obedient to the Father and taking the form of a servant. Help us, who have benefited from your sacrifice, to also serve one another in practical and spiritual ways. Amen.

The Values of a Godly Leader

Scripture: Psalm 15: 1–5

In this psalm, David speaks from experience about the value God places on being morally upright. The psalm expresses ten standards for those who may dwell with God. In today’s church growth culture, it is easy for us to claim certain values and call them our own, but what we really value is demonstrated in how we live.

As a group:

1. Read Psalm 15 aloud. (You may want to ask two people to read, alternating.)
2. Identify the ten values of one who lives with God.
3. How are these values reflected in the way leaders treat others?

Reflect individually or in small groups:

1. Share an example of someone in whom you see these values.
2. How have you struggled in living out these values?
3. What one standard or value can you commit to living out?

As a group, you might find it beneficial to covenant together to treating each other within the guidelines of Psalm 15.

Pray together, as a whole consistory.

Sample prayer:

Lord, we are amazed at your grace and humbled by your mercy. You took David and taught him how to live, and we ask you to do the same with us. As we lead your church, may our values be lived out according to your will. Amen.

Encouragement

Scripture: Acts 9:26–28

As a chief persecutor of the church, it is not surprising that Paul wasn’t too welcome among the disciples. Even though his conversion was real and God’s hand was upon him, Paul needed some help in order to accomplish and become what God intended for him.

As a group:

1. Read the passage.
2. How was Barnabas an encouragement to both Paul and the disciples?
3. As an encourager, what concrete steps did Barnabas take?

Reflect individually or in small groups:

1. Who in your life has been an encourager?
2. Is there someone in your life (maybe another consistory member or your pastor) whom you need to encourage?
3. What would it mean for you to actively encourage that person?
4. Are there people in your congregation who need to be encouraged to pursue ministry?

Pray together, as a whole consistory.

Sample prayer:

Lord, into the life of one of the greatest persecutors of the church you brought your grace. And at just the right time, you brought him encouragement. Help us never to undervalue the need to be encouraging–to one another, to pastor(s) _____, and to this congregation. Amen.

Human Resources within the Church

Scripture: Ephesians 4:11–16

In a day when the church still struggles with the “80/20 problem” (80 percent of the work is done by 20 percent of the people) and/or with unrealistic expectations placed upon the pastor, this passage is important. In this part of his letter, Paul lays out the need for effective management of human resources within the church and emphasizes that the basis for employing these resources is in the person of Christ.

As a group:

1. Read the passage.
2. What role or task is given to the pastor/teacher?
3. What role or task is given to “God’s people”?

Reflect individually or in small groups:

1. What does Paul mean in verse 16 about each part doing its work?
2. What is your part on consistory and in the church? Does it match your gifts?
3. How can you support your pastor?

Pray together, as a whole consistory.

Sample prayer:

Thank you, God, for choosing to use ordinary, average people like us to impact the world. Thank you for the roles of deacon, elder, and minister and for the uniqueness each brings to the table. Help us each to do our part so we might function as a whole. Amen.

Conflict and the Godly Leader

Scripture: Matthew 5:23–24 and Matthew 18:15–17

In these passages Jesus addresses an issue that we struggle with today: conflict. Jesus knew that his church and his people would experience conflict. The conflict itself is not always bad; what is important is the way we handle ourselves in the midst of it. Knowing the damage conflict can cause, Jesus gives clear direction on how to handle it with integrity.

As a group:

1. Read the passages aloud.
2. If we know that we have angered or offended someone, what are we to do?
3. Who should we talk to if we have been offended?
4. What family term does Jesus choose to use in both passages?

Reflect individually or in small groups:

1. Why does Jesus refer to other believers as being family members?
2. How does it change our approach to conflict if we see the people we are in conflict with as family members we love?
3. Because conflict hinders our worship of God, Jesus wants us to handle conflict with integrity. Why is that so hard?
4. Is there someone you need to speak with before you worship again?

If you are experiencing significant conflict in your congregation, as a consistory you might want to call upon either your classis or your regional synod for assistance in resolving that conflict.

Pray together, as a whole consistory.

Sample prayer:

God, we confess that we are too often petty in the way we deal with one another. Give us the grace to humbly say “I am sorry” when we need to, and strengthen us to be able to truly forgive. Bring to mind those whom we have offended so we might go to them and be reconciled. Amen.

Scripture and the Godly Leader

Scripture: Proverbs 2:1–11

In this passage, the author wants to pass on to the student his passion for pursuing wisdom and understanding. He urges the reader to know that God will honor an honest pursuit of wisdom through the reading of Scripture and that there are clear blessings in store for the one who seeks after the things of God.

As a group:

1. Read Proverbs 2:1–11 together.
2. Rereading verses 1–4, identify the energetic actions that the author describes.
3. How does Scripture shape the character of a leader?

Reflect individually or in small groups:

1. Give an example of how you have recently grown in godly wisdom and understanding.
2. When is the best time and what is the best environment for you to study the Bible?
3. What one change can you make so you are able to pursue God with the passion and energy described in verses 1–4?

Pray together, as a whole consistory.

Sample prayer:

God in heaven, you created us in your image. You want your character to be manifested in us so that you might use us for your glory. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we ask you to give us the grace we need to actively pursue true wisdom and understanding. Amen.

Accountability for the Godly Leader

Scripture: 2 Samuel 11:1–27

In this passage, we see how dangerous it is for leaders to live without accountability. In order to recover from one bad decision, David, Israel’s king, continued to make more. As leaders in Christ’s church, it is important for us to live “among” one another.

Reflect individually or in small groups:

1. Read the story from 2 Samuel 11.
2. What bad decisions does David make?
3. How does his position make it easier for him to make these decisions?
4. How could David have allowed someone to hold him accountable?

As a group:

1. Have one person from each group share his or her learnings about the need for accountability.
2. Encourage each person to have someone to whom he or she is held accountable

Pray together, as a whole consistory.

Sample prayer:

Why is it so easy for us to isolate ourselves from you and one another, God? We desire today to learn from the history of David and to live differently. We ask, Lord, for solid biblical relationships in which we are able to admonish one another in love. Amen.

The Vision of a Godly Leader

Scripture: 1 Chronicles 28:1–19

To build a house, you need a vision of what it will look like and a plan to get it done. David had a vision and a dream to build God’s house. While God’s plan was for Solomon to build the temple, it is interesting that it is David who has the vision for it. To move the church forward, there needs to be a vision–a picture of what the destination looks like.

As a group:

1. Read the passage aloud.
2. How did David get the vision for the temple?
3. How did David communicate the vision?

Reflect individually or in small groups:

1. Does your church have a clear vision?
2. How was that vision decided upon? Is it clear that it came from God?
3. Has that vision been effectively communicated to the whole church?

As a group you might decide to begin a visioning process for your church or strategize ways to effectively communicate the vision.

Pray together, as a whole consistory.

Sample prayer:

Lord, you knew exactly what the temple was to look like. You knew who should build it. You also know what you want for your church. Help us to see the potential that you see in (your church name). Help us have a vision of what you can do through us as we follow Christ in mission. Amen.

Want to explore how God is calling to you serve the church more deeply?