One must have a correct understanding of the congregation and the offices in the church to be able to properly evaluate. If, for example, one would approach the church as a human organization and the officers as managers of this organization, then this will determine one’s evaluation. The Bible speaks about the church in many ways. They all point to the exalted character of the Church. To mention some: the Church is the Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ, the Temple of the Holy Spirit, the Mother of believers. The Bible teaches us that the congregation belongs to Christ, because He has bought her with His blood in order to present her before His Father. From the Word of God we also learn that office- bearers are servants of the Lord. Yes, they are even called fellow workers of God. For this reason the office-bearers have to know what the Lord requires of His house. They have to be well aware of the fact that the church belongs to God since she has been bought by the precious blood of Christ. Because the congregation is precious in His eyes the office-bearers do well to make sure that they fulfil their calling properly. This shows that our evaluation must have this scriptural doctrine concerning the church as basis.
To go a step further proper evaluation starts with understanding what the Bible teaches about a certain matter, and see how this is reflected in the Reformed Confession, Forms or Church Order. On the basis of this we can formulate our goals. This is why each chapter in this Handbook will start with the
Scriptural information, followed by references to the Confessions, Liturgical Forms and Church Order, in order to come to a formulation of our goals. In some chapters there is also some historical information. We should realize that in order to understand a particular custom we must acquaint ourselves with its history.
Having formulated the goals we can look at means by which we want to reach these goals. For example, the goal of liturgy is that in worshipping the Lord God we may show ourselves thankful to Him and He may be praised by us. How do we bring this about? By means of worship services. But then we can also look at the various aspects of the worship service to see whether they correspond to the goal we have formulated. Another example is the catechism instruction. It is the task of the church to hand over to the youth the doctrine of salvation. But how is this done? As elders we have to visit the catechism classes, in doing this we evaluate whether the actual instruction indeed correspond to the goal we have formulated.
This evaluation may also bring to light problem areas. The more we understand the Biblical background and our goal the better we will be able to be specific about the problem. It will also help us in finding new ways to reach the goal and solve these problems.