The Protestant Church in the Netherlands is organised according to the principles of the so-called presbyterial-synodical system.

Presbyterial-synodical system

This means that its government is entrusted to 'ecclesial assemblies', i.e. bodies consisting of ministers, elders and deacons.†There are no bishops or superintendents who would have personal governing authority. Collegial church government is the rule.††

Local congregation

The presbyterial-synodical system is structured bottom-up. Local congregations - about 2500 in number - are the point of departure. On this local level congregations elect the members of their own governing body. This body is the Church Council (Latin: 'presbyterium', therefore 'presbyterial'-synodical system), normally consisting of one (or maybe two) ministers and a number of elders and deacons which is dependent on the size of the congregation.†

Classical assembly

Each church council has the right to appoint two representatives in a regional ecclesial assembly, known as the 'classical assembly'. This form of representation is the heart of the presbyterial-'synodical' system. In the classical assembly†the communication between sometimes very different congregations in the same geographical area is pivotal. The governing responsibilities†of the 75 classical assemblies are however limited. Whatever can be done locally, should be done there.††

General Synod

According to the same 'synodical' principle each of the classical assemblies appoints two delegates to the General Synod, the governing body of the church on the national level.†The General Synod has responsibilities in all areas of common interest, like theological education and ministry training, international missionary, diaconal and ecumenical co-operation, legislation etc.†

Evangelical Lutheran Synod

In order to safeguard the position of the Lutheran minority there is also an Evangelical Lutheran Synod. All those registered as Lutheran members of the PCN (about 1% of our constituency) may participate in direct elections for this synod. The Evangelical Lutheran Synod delegates an additional number of five representatives into†the General Synod.