Series - Church Discipline

An Open Letter to Someone with Whom Church Discipline Did Not Result in Restoration

This post is a supplement to the “church discipline process” document/training posted earlier. The goal of this series is to equip churches to conduct church discipline with restorative excellence. Reposted, with permission, from bradhambrick.com.

Friend,

I would imagine it is very difficult to receive a letter from your church or a Christian friend at this time. Thank you for your willingness to read what I have to say.

Reading this letter means you are at the end of a long journey that resulted in a conclusion that no one is happy with. The people on this journey were once friends, and even considered one another brothers and sisters in Christ. An unsatisfying conclusion to this kind of journey stings to put it lightly.

If I could give you one piece of advice at this juncture, it would be “reflect don’t react.” It would be easy to view what your church family did as closed-minded rejection on the basis of a sense of moral superiority. But for the stewardship of your own emotional and spiritual well-being, I would ask you to reflect on the following questions:

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Tiered Strategies for Contacting a Church Member under Discipline

This post is a supplement to the “church discipline process” document/training posted earlier. The goal of this series is to equip churches to conduct church discipline with restorative excellence. Reposted, with permission, from bradhambrick.com.

After discerning that discipline needs to be done and deciding how the process will flow, the hardest part of church discipline can be getting started. At least two dynamics are in play with this difficulty:

  1. You want to start an awkward conversation as redemptively as possible.
  2. The crisis or strain prompting discipline often results in the individual under discipline not responding to phone calls or emails.

Let’s consider each of these before providing a series of scripts for reaching out when there are various levels of resistance.

First, church discipline introduces a hierarchical relationship where the norm has been peer-based; somewhat comparable to when a friend becomes your employer or professor. Church leaders should not carry their positions in a domineering way (I Peter 5:3), but as people in need of the same gospel hope (Gal. 6:1-5).

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How and When Does Church Discipline Conclude?

This post is a supplement to the “church discipline process” document/training posted earlier. The goal of this series is to equip churches to conduct church discipline with restorative excellence. Reposted, with permission, from bradhambrick.com.

In this article we examine the conclusion of a church discipline case. Preferably, church discipline ends in restoration; sometimes, however, it concludes with removing a friend from church membership.

After discussing the two possible outcomes for church discipline, this post provides guidance on how to discern if “adequate opportunity” has been given to change.

Two Possible Outcomes

There are two possible outcomes for church discipline. The first, and most desirable, outcome is restoration. Restoration happens when the members agree with God about the nature of their sin, turn from their sin emotionally (remorse) and volitionally (choices), embrace the support of fellow believers offering accountability and encouragement, and are grateful for the way their church family pursued them during a season of waywardness.

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An Open Letter to Someone Entering Church Discipline

Reposted, with permission, from bradhambrick.com. This post is a supplement to the “church discipline process” document/training posted earlier. The goal of this series is to equip churches to conduct church discipline with restorative excellence.

Dear Friend,

I appreciate you taking the time to read this letter. Frequently individuals in your situation have gotten to this point by one of two paths: (1) hidden sin has recently come to light, meaning you likely feel exposed and like everything is now moving very fast; or (2) pastoral care or small group care has stalled out, meaning you feel frustrated and are tempted to blame those around you for not being as effective as you believe they should have been to remedy your struggle.

Regardless of how you got here, this is a difficult and pivotal season for you. Difficult because of the significant emotions and relational strains involved. Pivotal because how you respond to the matters that prompted church discipline will significantly impact your spiritual, social, and familial (if married) life for years to come.

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How and When Does Church Discipline Begin?

Reposted, with permission, from bradhambrick.com.

This post is a supplement to the “church discipline process” document/training posted earlier. The goal of this series is to equip churches to conduct church discipline with restorative excellence.

This post examines key elements of church discipline that need to be understood before the formal process of church discipline begins. Uncertainty about how to begin church discipline and what concerns warrant church discipline is often the reason that church discipline either is not done or feels reactive when it is done.

How Does Church Discipline Begin?

There are two predominant paths towards church discipline: (a) stalled out pastoral care, or (b) a crisis precipitated by hidden sin. We will look at the implications of each of these paths.

1. Stalled Out Pastoral Care

Here “pastoral care” may be a small group leader, ministry team leader, lay elder, or pastoral staff member. The point is that a church leader is aware of the repeated sin, has been meaningfully involved, and has been involving “higher leaders,” but change has not occurred.

The tone of conversation as pastoral care transitions to formal church discipline would sound something like this:

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The Restorative Church Discipline Process: Series Introduction

Editor’s note: This video introduces a series on the topic of local church discipline. Subsequent installments in the series will be in article form. Reposted, with permission, from bradhambrick.com.

The goal of church discipline is restoration. The process of church discipline should be clear, so that confusion does not create temptation towards mistrust. The role of each person involved should be clear so that differing ideas about what should be happening do not distract from restorative efforts.

This post provides the training and documentation guide for the Summit’s church discipline process. It is the first post in a series designed to equip pastors/elders/churches to conduct church discipline with restorative excellence.

The following steps are recommended for a church considering adopting this document as their church discipline guide.

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