LifeWay Research: Most pastors say their churches never discipline members for misconduct

"When asked over the phone when the last time their church formally disciplined a member, 55 percent of pastors said that 'a member has not been formally disciplined since I came as pastor nor prior as far as I know.'" CPost

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WallyMorris's picture

Part of the problem is that many churches don't have "membership" any longer because more professing Christians don't want to become members. Difficult to implement church discipline on someone who never formally agreed with a church's doctrinal statement. The secretary at one large church told me that their membership requirements were "loose" (her word) - If you come regularly for a few months, they consider you a member. Much of this is due to the desire of churches to fill seats and pay bills. As far as those who are members, they just leave and go to another church, which is glad to have them in order to fill their seats.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

Ron Bean's picture

In the last 10 years I have seen needed church discipline implemented more in the "younger" churches of which I've been a part than in my previous 30 years in more traditional churches. In those churches misconduct that should have been addressed with discipline was either ignored or handled "neatly". By that I mean that the offending members were usually allowed to leave the church quietly without any addressing of their sin.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Bert Perry's picture

There are a lot of places these days that are not disciplining wayward members--lawyers "love" them because it generates fat payments from lawsuits--and part of the issue, IMO, with church discipline and other discipline is that too many places are not training--same Greek root as discipline--their members in the first place.  Hard to punish someone for violating their training when you don't give it in the first place, no?

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

T Howard's picture

Many churches are moving toward informed consent agreements with members and regular attenders regarding church discipline. This allows the church to continue the discipline process even if the sinning member / regular attender wants to shortcut the discipline process and leave the church. This protects the church, especially when they "bring it to the church" and/or contact the sinning individual's new church.

TylerR's picture


Wally, what you wrote made me sad, but I think you're right.

Every Baptist pastor should read John Hammett's book Biblical Foundations for Baptist Churches. It's one of the most practical, helpful books on Baptist polity I've ever read. He puts special emphasis on how Baptists can work to make Baptist ecclesiology meaningful in church today, with particular emphasis on the ordinances.

For a more academic treatment, see Dever's recent edited work Baptist Foundations: Church Government for an Anti-Institutional Age. This book is a treasure, and I don't think it's received the attention it deserves.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?