Church discipline

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Molly, Nov 10, 2002.

  1. Molly

    Molly
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    I brought this up on another topic on the fundamental forum....but I am wondering....has your church ever practiced church discipline in a biblical way with restoration as the goal...did the person repent or was he/she dismissed from your fellowship? How did it go? I think when it is done correctly it can be one of the most precious things in a church.

    If your church does not,why not?

    I've heard a very well known pastor/writer/theoligian state that a church without church discipline is a church without Christ....do you agree or disagree?
     
  2. Jeff Weaver

    Jeff Weaver
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    Molly

    Primitive Baptists do practice church discipline, up to and including excommunication, if necessary.

    Here is basically the way we do it.

    If someone has a grievance against another, and go through the gospel steps, with no resolution, then that person may bring it before the church. At that point the church will appoint a committee to try to come to the truth of the matter and adjust the grievances. If this doesn't work, then the committee will try to ascertain who has done harm to whom, and report to the church for action. In many instances both parties are to some degree or another in the wrong. Most of the time the mediation works, but when it doesn't, then the whole thing proceeds to a church conference and is conducted much as a trial.

    If someone has committed an offense against the state (i.e., a criminal act), the member is "set aside" or suspended until the results of the civil/criminal court action is known, and then the church may (most likely) will take steps to restore the individual if they were found not guilty or excommunicate them if they were found guilty "beyond a resonable doubt" by a civil/criminal jury. I had the unhappy duty to have presided over a couple of such proceedings.

    Hope it helps.

    Jeff
     
  3. Dr. Bob

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    Know of a church that talks about following the Bible in discipline and they do it - in initial stages.

    Lots of one-on-one, lots of counsel with pastor, lots of 2-3 witnesses. BUT when it comes down to actually doing something about it, there is no action at all.

    Girl lives in sin, gets pregnant unmarried, and instead of having appropriate discipline and then repentance and restoration, they have a baby shower.

    No shame, no guilt, no repercussions on parents (officers in church). Nothing.

    I know the goal of discipline is NOT to punish, but to restore. But there must be some penalty for sin. I'm not out to sound "mean", just zealous for purity in the Bride.

    [ November 10, 2002, 06:47 PM: Message edited by: Dr. Bob Griffin ]
     
  4. g'day mate

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    My concern is that there could be legal action taken out against the Church.
    John
     
  5. Molly

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    Dr.Bob,I know what you mean. Sin is a serious thing and churches need to step up to the duty.

    About legal action,our church has bylaws that protect us and an attorney has helped with that...so,I think we are okay in that area.
     
  6. Angie Miller

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    Our church does follow Biblical doctrine in referance to "dicipline". Then they sort of pounce when it is their turn. Pounce with love mind you but never the less pounce! :D
    An example: We have a lady that is a member and has been for some 8 years. She cheated on her Husband and they ended up divorcing. A few years later she began to live with a man that she met at a bar, not always a good sign, anyway she got pregnant and had the little boy and they are still living together. :( He is not what you would call an up standing member of the community. He abandoned a wife and a 2 year old girl and a newborn girl in Florida. I am not one to judge to much but that really LIGHTS MY FUSE! ANYWAY the Elders went to her home and asked her if she intended to continue in this life style or were they going to marry or possibly did she need help getting out of the situation. She had and has NO intention of getting out of this relationship so she was asked to change and repent or she could no longer be a "Member" only an "Attender" so that is what she is now. She still comes and the church shows her lots of support in prayer, but that is about the extent of it.
    I don't really know how I feel about it but I thought I would share an example.
    Love in Christ Angie [​IMG]
     
  7. Bible-boy

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    G'day g'day,

    You are right that may well happen. However, we cannot compromise the purity of the church due to fear. If your church will incorporate a section into its Constitution and By-laws that outlines the biblical model for church discipline and says that the church will follow these guidelines, then have all your members sign the Church Constitution and By-laws you will be covered. That way when you do have to exercise chruch discipline no one can say, "I never agreed to this." ;)

    [ November 11, 2002, 01:58 AM: Message edited by: BibleboyII ]
     
  8. Bible-boy

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    Here is the way it works at my church (okay, I know it is Christ's church, but you know what I mean :D ). The following is taken from our church Constitution and By-laws:

    Scrpiture encourages discipline of believers involved in persistent, unrepentant sin for the purpose of restoring them to a right relationship with God and fellowship with the church. When discipline is enacted, it should be carried out with an attitude of love, humility and commitment to biblical process as defined in Matthew 18:15-18.

    The first step of the biblical process is a private attempt at resolution by the person who has been sinned against. If unsuccessful, the second step involves another resolution attempt with the addition of one or two spiritually minded witnesses (Galatians 6:1-2). If unsuccessful, the third step requires consultation with the Elders (Titus 1:9, 3:10), which may lead to the exposure of the sin before the whole church. The final step is removal of the individual from church fellowship and the termination of their church membership (1 Corinthians 5).

    It should be the sincere desire of the local church that all members be lovingly brought to repentance and restoration. If the Elders are aware that a former member under church discipline is attending another church, they should attempt to notify in writing the Senior Pastor of that church.

    Likewise, a request for transfer or termination of membership will not be granted if the member is currently under church discipline.

    [ November 11, 2002, 02:16 AM: Message edited by: BibleboyII ]
     
  9. Deacon

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    I unfortunately have been involved in the process of discipling a chuch member a number of times. Pride and satan have prevented any of those disciplined from returning to our fellowship.

    Legal matters do become a worry, so the process needs to be fully understood by the members upon joining. If the person in hte congregation is not a member it presents an even messier situation because the final step of discipline can't be legally performed without the threat of libel(bringing the matter before the congregation).
     
  10. stubbornkelly

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    When we were still visiting my home church (so it's been, oh 17 years), they had an evening "service" during which they called out several members in attendance and had them come forward onto the podium. Their unrepented sins were aired before the whole church and they were told to repent or leave. Many of them left.

    I don't know what had happened prior to this particular evening, but that was how some of them played out.
     
  11. Abiyah

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    I have mentioned before that my synagogue
    follows the Bible strictly in these matters, and
    each step is carried out lovingly but biblically.
    Each person is given a long time to repent,
    but if repentance is not forthcoming after the
    initial concact, or after the second with a
    witness, or after the third before the congre-
    gation, they are asked to leave the congrega-
    tion, with an invitation to return when they take
    care of the problem.
     
  12. Jamal5000

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    Great subject. [​IMG]

    Here's a question: What constitutes a witness? An eyewitness (one who has himself seen the sin occur)? or a witness in the sense that an individual believes your observations of the sinful behavior and agrees to support your act of disciplinary restoration?

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Angie Miller

    Angie Miller
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    [​IMG] Wow that is just awful, I am sure I would not go back either! :(
     
  14. stubbornkelly

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    Oh, we went back. We became members there. I haven't seen this happen again, though. From what I remember (I was 8), it was done very badly.

    Isn't the point of what we call discipline, restoration? If we do it with restoration in mind, I'd think the outcome might be much better.

    As for witnesses, I think it could be one of two things. Certainly, an eyewitness may be of use (although I wonder how often you'd find an eyewitness to, say, adultery). But this:
    I think is not what a witness should be. Witnesses need to be impartial. Because as we know, if the person bringing the grievance is found (presumably by the witnesses he or she brings) to be bearing false witness, or is just plain wrong or misunderstood about what he or she saw, that person is subject to what he or she would have subjected the original person being accused/faulted/"restored."

    Bringing along witnesses who are not impartial seems futile, and smacks of ganging up on a person, rather than trying to come to consensus on how to go forward.

    When you say, "is under church discipline," what do you mean by that? Is there some sort of status involved at your church? Or do you mean, if the steps are still going on? On that note, refer back to what I said above about the witnesses. Does it take the first step for someone to be considered "under church discipline?" The second? Because the first and second steps seem to be information gathering, understanding, and consensus building more than anything. No matter what, it doesn't seem to me that much time should pass between bringing witnesses and bringing a matter before the church.

    Sometimes it feels like my home church forgets about the restoration part and focuses on the "you're under church discipline," part. I don't want to get caught up in semantics, but I do think we need to examine what kind of spirit with which we go forward when invoking the verses in Matthew. Is it with a spirit of discipline in the sense of punishment and accusation, or is it with a spirit of understanding and restoration?

    When we seek to discipline members, should it not be to keep them in, rather than to cast them out?
     
  15. Molly

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    The goal should always be restoration,but if repentance never takes place the consequeces should play out.

    Our church goes by Matt 18,when it is brought before the church,it is done to allow the church to know,make the sin public,to pray for that individual,encourage them,etc. If the person still chooses the sin,then they will very quietly be removed from church membership.

    One of the things I love about it is that when new members go through the new members class,they agree to the info regarding church discipline...it acts as accountabilty for the memebers of our church to not allow sin in their lives. Not only does it keep the church pure,but helps keeps people pure before God,which is the goal.
     

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