Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Church Discipline

This is a summary of our actual church discipline policy...

Our church has practiced church discipline for over 30 years, and I would argue with good results. Many more pros than cons. I also know that it's increasingly rare, and I wonder whether it's for theological reasons, philosophical reasons, or that our culture has lost its mind and even the church cannot confront problems in a biblical way among its own members for fear of offending someone.

Okay, so I'm opinionated.

I'm curious to hear what you all think...

Armitage Church Discipline
- Summary -

Definition and Purpose of Church Discipline:
As in any family, discipline in a church family that is done the right way can be an effective tool to help people grow into maturity. The Scriptural basis for this can be found in passages such as Matt. 18:15-20, 1 Cor. 5:1-13 and 2 Cor. 2:5-11. “Discipline” is a word that makes people nervous in contemporary culture, but in a biblical context it is rich with good meaning and is life giving. For our purposes, it denotes one of the significant processes by which disciples of Jesus are made. So in other words, discipline does not equal punishment. “Discipline” encompasses all the church does in regard to “teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness” (1 Tim. 3:16 NIV). So that includes everything from Bible Study, encouragement and accountability to confrontation and exclusion.

Goal of Church Discipline
The goal of discipline is ALWAYS Christlikeness. Consequently, even something as serious as exclusion is always done with restoration in view – never as punishment.

Means of Church Discipline
The concept of church discipline can be divided into two broad categories: Proactive and Responsive. The proactive side encompasses all the church does to grow disciples: Bible Study, Grow Groups, accountability, counseling, prayer, encouragement, mentoring, service opportunities, etc. The responsive side involves such actions as personal exhortation and confrontation, personal and/or pastoral rebuke, public rebuke, official warnings (usually through a letter), and removal from the church membership by exclusion.

Reasons for Church Discipline
The reasons for proactive discipline are fairly obvious: To equip the body to do the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12) so that the church can function in its biblical role. Responsive discipline takes place when a church member begins to pursue a course of action that is detrimental to his or her spiritual health and consequently the health of the church body. In such cases, all the means available for correction will be used, starting with the more basic, but all the way to exclusion if the member refuses to repent.

Ultimately, church discipline exists for these two reasons: 1) To protect and maintain the health of the church body and 2) To work restoration (sometimes through severe means) in a member engaged in sin. If we are to be serious about the idea of community and the charge to make disciples of all nations, then the health of the body is paramount.

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Blogger Ike said...

This forgotten and often misunderstood Bible doctrine should be practiced. If we truly seek to honor God and if we truly care for the well-being of His people, we will obey Christ’s commands to practice church discipline. When practiced biblically and compassionately, it is a powerful tool to restore the fallen and to preserve Christ’s honor in the church and the unbelieving world.

March 11, 2009 at 4:30 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Compassion is one of the key ideas.

We all stumble in many ways, so the church leaders who oversee the discipline must do so in humility and compassion. WE must first remove the log in our own eye so that we can take out the speck in our brother's eye.

Of course it's the brother who says "get lost" after all that who has to be dealt with in a more intensive way.

People freak out about this stuff, though. When it comes down to it, we often get, "who are you to judge?" or some such thing. Of course I'm no one to judge, but we must act according the Scripture... THAT is the measuring stick.

March 11, 2009 at 7:15 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

Totally necessary for preservation and restoration. The first time you experience this doctrine in your church it can seem a bit strident...but, when the purpose brings the proper fruit...then you begin to understand. We saw this walked out in a "small group" home church many years ago...the restoration was truly a joyous occasion, and to my knowledge is still bearing good fruit today!

March 12, 2009 at 10:54 AM  
Anonymous Shane Vander Hart said...

Absolutely needs to be practiced more, but also done in love.

March 16, 2009 at 9:32 AM  

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