(Since I’m still working through my exegetical/lexicography project, here’s something from my “drafts” folder that I’ve quickly finished for everyone’s enjoyment…)
Normally, when people talk about “the missing link”, they’re talking about some fossil remains from some transitional life form.
Not today. What missing link am I talking about?
I’m talking about the missing link in our churches. What is the one thing that few, if not almost none, of Western Canadian churches do that is explicitly prescribed in scripture?
Okay…there’s maybe more than one thing. That was a bad question.
Let’s try that again. What are some of the problems in many churches?
I’m sure that the list can go on and on, if one takes the time to think about it. So what’s something thing that directly addresses things like hypocrisy, divorce, false teaching, rampant sin, etc. that isn’t found in a majority of churches?
Preaching? Nope. We all got that (or at least some semblance of it).
Prayer? Nope. Again, that’s in every church (at least somewhat).
Evangelism? Nope. Many churches do that, and quite effectively at that.
Exorcism? Okay…so we don’t have a lot of exorcism going on, but I doubt that would really address things like hypocrisy or divorce…
So what is it?
I’d suggest that it’s Church Discipline. Biblical Church Discipline is the missing element in a lot of Western Canadian churches. Churches have a tendency to overlook sin in the lives of their congregants and members, and because of this the accusations of hypocrisy have a fair amount of substance. People outside the church usually have more than a few illustrations of how “those think they’re better than us, but…(insert tale of co-worker/acquaintance who was stealing/committing adultery/whatever and their church did absolutely nothing)”. When we claim to be holy, but have people in our churches living in flagrant rebellion against the Lord, outsiders are watching and taking copious notes.
So what is Church Discipline?
Why is it important?
How in the world do you do it without everyone leaving your church?
The questions are legion, so instead of going on for a few thousand words, here’s some choice resources for you to investigate from people who have a solid biblical understanding and a fair amount of practical experience with church discipline:
1. Grace Community Church pamphlet on church discipline.
2. Bill Zimmer (long time elder at Grace Community Church) working in depth through church discipline.
3. The corresponding audio for Bill Zimmer’s teaching on point 2.
4. Bob Deffinbaugh (pastor/teacher at Community Bible Chapel in Richardson, Texas) working through 1 Corinthians 5:1-13 as an illustration of the procedures and philosophy of church discipline.
6. Simon J. Kistemaker (retired professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary) hammering through what it means to “deliver this man unto Satan“; what it is and what is not.
7. The Orthodox Presbyterian Church’s book of discipline. Some great practical commentary and “how to” content.
8. The “Discipline Issue” of the 9 Marks ministries journal. Lots of helpful articles.
Feel free to engage, question or disagree at will in the comment section. I’d love to hear what people are thinking about the need for, or possibly uselessness of, church discipline.
Until Next Time,
Lyndon “Proverbs 26:3 is NOT about church discipline” Unger