Church Discipline in your Church (3rd Church Ordinance)

Our church practices church discipline regularly
15% (4 votes)
Our church practices church discipline 5-10 times a year
0% (0 votes)
Our church pratices church discipline 1-5 times a year
35% (9 votes)
Our church has not practiced church discipline in a long time
50% (13 votes)
Church discipline? What's church discipline? I have never even seen such a thing in my church!
0% (0 votes)
Total votes: 26
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There are 11 Comments

Christopher's picture

Where does church discipline fall in the Baptist Distinctives? I have been doing my research and I have a position for it. The reason I have come to this conclusion is for the mere fact that the churches I have been in have rarely or even never practiced church discipline. These are good Bible teaching churches, however they just rarely or never have practiced this command. There are three thoughts as to why:

1. The sin has been taken care of by 1-3 witnesses first!
2. The sin is just not dealt with at all.
3. The people in the church are all righteous and they take care of their own discipline.

I would say if I were to rewrite the baptist disctinctives I would have to make Church discipline a 3 Ordinance right along with baptism and the Lord's supper.

Just looking for different thoughts. Maybe I have missed something!

Brian Jo's picture

4. Perhaps the church doesn't have a mechanism in place for discovering sins that lie hidden beneath the external display put on at corporate gatherings.
I am an expert at hiding my sins from others.

Susan R's picture


Church discipline depends on folks being willing to 'point a finger' and someone who is unrepentantly immoral. Then you have to decide what is immoral- is viewing R-rated movies (containing nudity and explicit sexual content) immoral? Are habitual gossips rebuked and disciplined if they continue their backbiting?

I think most of the time church discipline is reserved for behaviors such as fornication and adultery.

Jack's picture

Our elders would draw a distinction between formative discipline and corrective discipline. I assume corrective is what the OP refers to. Or, perhaps only excommunication. I didn't vote on the poll because I wasn't sure precisely what was meant.

We usually have maybe a couple of cases of excommunication each year. They've been for nonattendance, gross sin of a public nature, and various other things. Certainly more expansive than adultery/fornication. Other than nonattendance, I can't think of two cases in the past 7 years that were substantially similar.

Christopher's picture

Susan R wrote:
Church discipline depends on folks being willing to 'point a finger' and someone who is unrepentantly immoral. Then you have to decide what is immoral- is viewing R-rated movies (containing nudity and explicit sexual content) immoral? Are habitual gossips rebuked and disciplined if they continue their backbiting?

I think most of the time church discipline is reserved for behaviors such as fornication and adultery.

What are the perimeters for sin that is subject to church discipline? I think to often we just classify adultery and fornication as "the sin" of church discipline! But I think we should take a serious look at others sins as well. Sin can destroy a church. Obviously with Achen we see his sin, destroy his whole family? Scripture indicates an "offense", which does not necessarily have to be fornication or adultery!

dcbii's picture


I'm not sure I want to take the thread in this direction, but I will say that it seems that in most cases of unrepentant, public sin in churches that I have been a part of, the perpetrator has no interest in staying in the church and resigns membership by the time the "tell it to the church" stage is reached. So that makes formal church discipline either unnecessary or retroactive. The only thing we can do at that point is to withhold recommendation when another church asks us about it. That's what my current church does.

Should the discipline step be carried out anyway? Will it any longer have the effect of causing the outcast to be ashamed and seek repentance or restoration? It is certainly no longer necessary as a step to remove the sinful influence from the church.

Dave Barnhart

Christopher's picture

Yes true the sin is out! Therefore church discipline has taken effect! Technically, there was the means of church discipline because the sin was confronted. Sometimes church discipline does not take the entire course. We have to remember that church discipline really is a beautiful thing! Or at least some of the time. When the sinner repents, this is a great thing! As far as "excommunicating" one from the church, this is sometimes essential, but should be followed up by discipleship outside the boundaries of the church. If they do not want to be discipled, then do not cast your "pearls" before swine.

Skip Tilton's picture

I think you need to reword the poll and add a choice that says, Our church takes the action of performing church discipline every time it is warranted. The top 4 choices of the poll makes it look somewhat like something that has to be "practiced" to get good at it, like an athletic skill.

From Day One Ministries - Ministering to the local church, from the very first verse

Rob Fall's picture

BRAPSISS distinctives list it is.
one of the last two s' stands for Separation Ethical.
'Sides the first distinctive is Bible-the only rule for Faith and Practice. As cited above, church discipline is clearly outlined for us in Matthew. So, we don't need another specific distinctive.
And I agree about a choice of it's practiced when needed.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Matthew Eastland's picture

My church also does not fall into the categories listed above.
I was tempted to choose the option "practiced regularly," but that seems to imply a short time-span between times that it is used. My church is smaller (85 members), so there are less incidents requiring it than many other churches may have. We do practice it whenever we see something worthy of it. The matter then just becomes what is worthy.

Two MAJOR issues I see in many churches today (including the recently publicized events in NH and other places), are lack of knowledge regarding real church membership and real church discipline. So many issues could be prevented if these things were taught and followed properly. That's one of the reasons I decided to come back to SI after an extended hiatus.

Church membership is not just a trivial thing. So many today wander about looking for a church that fits their "style;" joining some, staying a few months and wandering on again when they don't like something. That's not anything found in the Bible. Church membership is a very special commitment. You are becoming part of a body, in the Biblical example; when does your spleen just decide it's not happy with you and wander off to join someone else?
Becoming part of a church is more than just everyone liking you and saying that you can join them. It has real responsibilities. The NT, particularly the epistles to congregations, is filled with listings of duties from one member to another. We are to spiritually uplift them, rebuke them when wrong, aid them when in financial need, share their burdens, etc. While all of those can be applied to any brother in Christ, those are found specifically given to individual churches and the members in them.
There should be some form of commitment when one joins a church, since there are serious biblical responsibilities, but most of the time those things are not taught.
I was very happy to see that someone else on here mentioned church discipline being followed for non-attendance. My church does the same.
Additionally, my church practices closed Communion, for multiple reasons, but one of them being that Communion is a symbol of our unity as a group. Another reason is our responsibility to not commune with those that have been put out.

All of that is significant when it comes to Church Discipline. If there is no real importance placed on our responsibilities and roles within the local body that we are a part of, then much of the weight of Church Discipline vanishes. If there is no difference made between those inside of a body and those outside (I'm not talking about looking down on anyone or being cliquish), then there is no strength behind putting someone out.

What is worthy of Church Discipline? There's a lot of ground there, and much of it is not covered by most churches.
Sure, everyone can see something easy like fornication or murder, but the Bible says that a lot more than that is worthy of removal from the body:

I Cor 5:11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
Here we have just one of the lists of things worthy of removal from a church.
I would have you note that some of the crimes listed here are obvious and that everyone knows (or should) that those things don't belong in a church.
But there are two sins there that I bet most people have never seen Church Discipline for: covetousness and railing. When's the last time that someone who fixated on something that they haven't had to the extent of real covetousness was put out of your church. The Bible calls that worthy of such. I bet that there are some people in some of our churches that have that problem.
How about railing? Open mocking of others on a consistent basis. That's something that Paul says is not worthy of being in a church.

There's a lot more to be said, but I have stuff to go do, so I will have to come back to it.

Steve Pittman's picture

Church discipline is like the discipline I exercised with my children. It is constant and corrective. If it is done properly than there will not be so many cases of people leaving the church or being put out of the church. I had to correct my children constantly so their behavior didn't get worse. Ec 8:11says "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil." If pastors and deacons did what they were supposed to do that is the way it would work. Just a thought from a pastor who does and has practiced church discipline.