Church Discipline – Part Two: How’s It Going?
Matthew 18:v.16 – “But if he won’t listen, take one or two more with you, so that by the testimony of two or three witnesses every fact may be established.” v.17 – “If he pays no attention to them, tell the church. But if he doesn’t pay attention even to the church, let him be like an unbeliever and a tax collector to you.” v.18 – “I assure you: whatever you bind on earth is already bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth is already loosed in heaven.” --Holman Christian Standard Bible, Holman Publication, Nashville, 2003
Discipline is hard. Personalities and relationships are questioned, bruised, torn, and sometimes severed. There is risk both ways. If a church denies the problem, hoping it will “go away”; it only destroys itself in the long run. When a church avoids discipline, it unknowingly reverses the action described in v.18 and the church takes upon itself an action reversed of heaven!
So, why do we avoid discipline and allow conflict to fester? Simply – Satan has control. Satan has made God’s way too hard and man’s way far easier and better. It’s a trap! Use God’s word to guide the church, not man’s way. Utilize the ecclesiastical references of the church bylaws to do the right thing, the right way, with the right people, and scriptures will be revealed and the church will move forward.
Conflict and taxes are inevitable! Both require guidance and process to be resolved. We pay taxes by IRS codes and process. We can handle church conflict and dispute amicably, scripturally and in a Godly manner – do it!
- Check your existing document and make certain that Matthew 18:15-18 has been administered (steps 1 & 2).
- To instigate step 3 requires the discipline party, by name, be formally presented to the church for an expulsion vote.
- If a person (discipline party) requests removal from the church membership in writing or by phone, prior to expulsion proceedings, the church is obligated to present the person’s name before the congregation as if they were “lettering out”; as you would a transfer or death, reporting by your church clerk at a regular business meeting. Keep thorough records of the request and attach with membership records in an inactive file.
- After expulsion proceeding vote or the “letter-out” process, a report by the church clerk at a regular business meeting, and a formal letter of the transaction by the congregation should be sent to the disciplined or requesting person(s).