In the Presbyterian Church (USA) we have a representational democracy as our structure. What that means for you is that all of our leaders, including pastors, are elected by the members of a congregation. It also means that we have no hierarchy, no episcopacy, like many other churches. Instead, church staff are called or hired to serve the congregation and community. A pastoral candidate is nominated by a pastor nominating committee made up of a representative group of members who after interviewing candidates select one to present to the congregation. A pastoral candidate meets the church members, leads worship, answers any questions and then the congregation votes — is God calling this woman or man to minister with this congregation? With no church hierarchy, a pastor then may not be moved against the wishes of the congregation. The openness of the call system does mean that a pastor or congregation can choose their own time whe they feel God is leading in another direction.
Within the life of a Presbyterian church, decisions are made primarily by a board of members, the Session, who have been elected by members to serve as Ruling Elders. Members are also elected by members to provide membership care and are known as Deacons. Our pastors are members who have been called to serve as Teaching Elders (Ministers of Word and Sacrament). All three offices are ordained ministries in the life of the church. We are one of the few traditions that ordain members as Elders and Deacons.