Church Discipline – Part One: Right or Wrong?


Robert Grant

PLEASE NOTE: The Church, under the leadership and lordship of Jesus Christ, is a place for sinners to come and experience life change. However, Church Membership [those who are professing Christians] holds a standard for excellence in conduct and behavior. When church members lose site of Kingdom focus, they may deserve church discipline.

“The purpose of Church Discipline is to glorify God by maintaining purity in the church, protecting believers by deterring sin and promoting the spiritual welfare of the offending believer by calling him or her to return to biblical standards of doctrine and conduct. Furthermore, upon joining this Church, all members are in agreement with this Article and Section of the Bylaws.”
--Rex Frieze, Frieze Consulting
Primary Governing Documents – Bylaws
Section II.B – Page 4

Church Membership Discipline is Right. Church Discipline is Biblical. Church Discipline is included in many church documents – Constitutions/Bylaws or Policy & Procedure Manuals. Church Discipline is one of the most over-looked processes in the modern church.

An old cigarette marketing ad quote once said, “I’d rather fight than switch”. Sometimes this writer feels the church would rather “fight” than switch to the scripture, wherein lies the answer to much of their problems.

A Church Discipline issue is a relationship issue. Within relationship issues lay responsibilities – responsibilities of the church as a whole, as well as individual member.

The most popular biblical reference noted in church documentation is Matthew 18:15-18. Basically, it is a scriptural step 1, 2, 3. When applied to church bylaws, this ecclesiastical reference gives the exact steps to take to discipline a member. The true purpose here is not church membership expulsion, but restoration spiritually.

Step One: Go to the person – meet them in private, discuss the situation, reconcile the dispute, put it behind you and move on. Many church disputes are caused by too much rebuke “behind-the-back” publicly, and it needs to be face-to-face, one-on-one in private.

Step Two: If step one was not successful. If the rebuke was not heard and heeded, then two or more go to establish the testimony of Step One. If this attempt of reconciliation fails, Step Three is needed. As the Steps continue, there needs to be control of temper and tongue or the discipline/restoration process is in jeopardy.

Step Three: Tell the Church. If there is no reconciliation then he is “like an unbeliever”, and membership is dissolved. Technically, this is a vote for dismissal of the name from the church role, as if the member had “lettered-out”.

The February Issue of the Church Staff Digest will feature: “Church Discipline – How’s it Going”.

Bottom line – Church Membership is important to the Kingdom of God. Church Discipline is Biblical. Take the right steps – do it right!

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