Article 37 — Consistory and the deacons

Where the number of elders and deacons is small the deacons may be added to the consistory by local arrangement. This shall invariably be done where there are less than three elders and less than three deacons. In these circumstances matters pertaining to supervision and discipline shall be handled with the advice of the deacons and matters pertaining to the office of deacons with the advice of the elders.

Some congregations are small, as is also the number of elders and deacons.
Our Church Order has made a provision in such a case: The consistory meeting shall always be combined with that of the deacons.
In both groups the other office-bearers shall act in an advisory capacity.
This shall be the rule whenever the number of each group is less than three.
Local rules must be made with this in mind.

The reason for including this article appears to be the danger that supervision and discipline – in the case of a small consistory – might be handled in a far too personal fashion, thus leading to partiality and arbitrariness.

Before the revision of our Church Order the deacons acted in such cases as ‘assistant elders’. This has been improved by introducing the element of advice.
That way

the offices …. remain distinct one from the other (Form for the Ordination of Elders and Deacons).

Rongen, G. van (2005)

Kerkorde FRCA (2003) 37