Have you ever noticed that when you buy a new car that you suddenly notice that there are lots of people that drive the same model in the same colour? Since I posted on church discipline yesterday, I’ve noticed a few blog posts on discipline and membership matters. James Spurgeon over at Pyromaniacs has posted a series on church membership that has been excellent. See the latest post here. For a longer, more complicated post on this issue, see Tom Ascol at the Founders Ministries Blog. Of course, I always take every opportunity to plug the 9 Marks ministries site. Here’s the starting page for the 7th Mark – Church Discipline.
There is so, so much that could be said about church discipline. I’m not going to say it here. However, I do encourage you to think through these issues. Particularly read through the relevant passages – Matthew 18:15ff; Romans 16:17-19; 1 Corinthians 5, 2 Corinthians 2; Galatians 6:1-2; Titus 3:10-11 and others. Disciplined Christians and disciplined churches are the subject of many, many passages. There are related passages, such as ‘weaker brother’ discussions in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8 and the Pastoral Epistles. As you read the New Testament, take note of how often sound doctrine and holy living are themes. I read Acts 20:17-38 at our annual meeting. The Apostle Paul was most concerned about the health and welfare of the churches that he saw established by God’s power. Watch, guard, keep, care – those are ministry priorities in Gospel-centered ministry.
Patti raised a good point in the comments on my last post. Personalities do make things complicated. I tend to be to be too cautious to confront. Others have a gift for confrontation! As a pastor – even a somewhat timid one – I much prefer a person who speaks plainly about their concerns than those who keep things bottled up for the sake of peace. Unspoken ‘concerns’ eventually bubble out in gossip and/or hard feelings. I’d rather hear about it early on, even if it does raise my blood pressure temporarily. ‘Offensesensitivity’ (to borrow a word from Opus the Penguin) is a disease in the church. Everyone has touchy moments, but thin skin is epidemic in some Christian circles.
What’s the solution?
Good, robust, biblical theology. Isn’t it always?
P.S. I will finish my series on the Composite Society soon. The next post is proving to be a challenge. Why do I do this to myself?