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Whatever Happened to Church Discipline?

Church discipline has never been popular. It has also been abused. We have had people burned at the stake for not believing the dogma of the church or for owning a Bible. Also, in our own nation we have had witches put to death. These are abuses of “church” discipline. This is not the kind of church discipline that is becoming to a Christian church.

It cannot be motivated by a get-even spirit. It must be done in such a way as to bring unity to the church and blessing to everyone that is affected by it. It must be administered by the whole church. The pastor and church board should be coordinating it for the whole church. It should be done in a spirit of love and forgiveness. It should not be done without proper preparation. This should include prayer and fasting for the situation to be resolved in a godly manner.

The offender should be treated as if nothing ever happened. If the offender goes back to his or her old ways and comes back, he or she should be placed on probation before being allowed to be a full member. No offender should be allowed to have a leadership position in the church until he or she proves his or her repentance and restitution were in good faith.

Perhaps this can be better understood if we understand the reason for church discipline. The reason for church discipline is so it will be a godly witness in the world. The church is not a social club like the YMCA or YWCA. The church is the “pillar and ground of the truth.” Jesus tells us, “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life.”

The church is in a mess because we have not administered proper discipline to its membership. Without proper “pruning” the church will continue to bring forth “poisoned fruit.” It will continue to be a disgrace to all that is good and godly in this world. In an hour when the message of the church is needed so badly, the church is powerless to bring redemption to our sin-sick world.

There is hope on the horizon. The way the church will “clean up its act” is to have a Holy Spirit-inspired revival. There is a movement of God for a revival. People are following the 2nd Chronicles 7:14 Scripture’s call to repentance all over our land. If the church has a revival, God will hear our prayers, forgive our sins and heal our land. This will enable the church to have power and authority to carry out its mission of love and grace to the ends of the earth.