Posts Tagged With: discipline

Demystifying Church Discipline

In this week’s PODCAST, we engage in a most important discussion that flows directly out of Matthew 18:15-17 — one of the most important passages in all of the New Testament, the so-called “Church Discipline” passage.

Church Discipline, a teaching in many local churches that really rose into prominence in the late 1970’s and became quite the trend.

I can remember attending church leadership conferences back then and hearing pastors — I’ll use word “boast” — of the fact that they recently removed an individual or individuals from their churches, thereby “preserving the purity of their churches.” Others would then oooh and ahhh at the boldness of the pastor in confronting the sin in his church and taking decisive action in order to preserve the purity of his church by the process of Church Discipline as outline by Jesus here in Matthew 18.

Today, one of this nation’s leading Church Discipline proponents insists that church discipline, as outlined in Matthew 18, is one of the marks of a healthy church. He writes this on his website, clearly articulating the prevailing view of Church Discipline, and indeed includes this as one of his main talking points as he addresses pastors’ conferences throughout the country, encouraging them to do the same:

“Church discipline is the act of correcting sin in the life of the body, including the possible final step of excluding a professing Christian from membership in the church and participation in the Lord’s Supper because of serious unrepentant sin.”

Consequently, it has become (and in many places still is) standard practice to remove or “exclude” or excommunicate (you choose the term) unrepentant sinners from their local churches. Or if not standard practice, this notion of Church Discipline is certainly included in most of our churches’ bylaws.

Well, in light of the above definition — More importantly, in light of Jesus’ words in Matthew 18 — I must ask, Is that really what Jesus taught to His disciples and to us?

Let’s find out together in this Encore Podcast, an encore because I am presently leading a Study Tour in Israel.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you as you listen.

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Demystifying Church Discipline

The Lost Sheep A U SoordI was away this week, sharing a precious memorial service for my dearly beloved mom with my family. Consequently, I have selected one of the MOST IMPORTANT podcasts that we have recorded in our Jesus in HD series.

In this Encore PODCAST, as we continue in our chronological study of the life and ministry of Jesus, we come to Matthew 18:15-17 — one of the most seriously significant passages in all of the New Testament, the so-called “Church Discipline” passage.

Church Discipline, a teaching in many local churches that really rose into prominence in the late 1970’s and became quite the trend.

I can remember attending church leadership conferences back then and hearing pastors — I’ll use word “boast.” — of the fact that they recently removed individuals from their congregations, thereby “preserving the purity of their churches.” Others would then oooh and ahhh at the boldness of these pastors in confronting the sin in his church and taking decisive action in order to preserve the purity of his church by the process of Church Discipline as outline by Jesus here in Matthew 18.

Today, one of this nation’s leading Church Discipline proponents insists that church discipline, as outlined in Matthew 18, is one of the marks of a healthy church. He writes this on his website, clearly articulating the prevailing view of Church Discipline, and indeed includes this as one of his main talking points as he addresses pastors’ conferences throughout the country, encouraging them to do the same:

“Church discipline is the act of correcting sin in the life of the body, including the possible final step of excluding a professing Christian from membership in the church and participation in the Lord’s Supper because of serious unrepentant sin.”

Consequently, it has become standard practice to “exclude” or remove or excommunicate (you choose the term) unrepentant sinners from their local churches. This notion of Church Discipline is certainly included in many if not most of our evangelical churches’ bylaws.

Well, in light of the above definition — More importantly, in light of Jesus’ words in Matthew 18 — I must ask, Is that really what Jesus taught to His disciples and to us?

Let’s discover the answer together.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you as you listen.

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I’m Not Judging You; I’m “Holding You Accountable,” Just Like the Good Book Says (Or Does It? Spiritual Abuse, Part 2)

OK, where was I? Ah, yes.

I ended yesterday’s blog post by making this rather novel assertion:

This whole, entire “judging” thing finds its justification in one insidious, all-too-common, non-biblical phrase: “holding others accountable.”

Ouch! OK, so what gives here?

Well, let me first make one thing crystal clear. We are not talking here about you or me going to a trusted friend or loved one — someone we respect, someone who has earned the privilege, someone we are absolutely certain loves and cares deeply about us — and asking him or her to hold us accountable. THAT is, of course, perfectly appropriate. Someone who holds us accountable by our invitation.

The focus of this blog post are those who appoint themselves as those who hold us accountable, not by our invitation, but by their instigation. People who believe that it is their God-given, biblical mandate to scrutinize our lives, put us under their magnifying glasses, and call us to account whenever they see something that doesn’t look quite kosher to them. Oi Vey!!!

Accountability-photo4Did you know that the word “accountable” appears a grand total of (Are you ready?) three times in the New Testament. Only three times.

I will now share with you each of these three occurrences. As I do, you tell me if you can get from any of this trio of occurrences the faulty, deadly, prideful notion that we have biblical mandate to hold anyone accountable.

Romans 3:19 (NIV), Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.

Who holds people accountable? Say it with me: God!

Hebrews 4:13(NLT), Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked&exposed before His eyes, and He is the one to whom we are accountable.

Who is the one to whom we are accountable? Say it with me: God!

Hebrews 13:17 (NLT), Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow.

Leaders, watch over the people. Is that not a clear mandate for pastors to hold their people accountable? Hang on to that thought. But first, according to Hebrews 13:17, to whom are your spiritual leaders (AKA pastors) accountable? Say it with me: God!

And yet, how ironic that the writer specifically tells the people to let their pastors do their work with joy and not sorrow. Sorrow caused by whom? I hear it from pastors every single week. Sorrow caused by church members who set themselves up as self-appointed judges, krinos, to hold their leaders accountable, making their ministries a living Hell in the process.

For sake of pastors everywhere, of whom 1700/month left the ministry last year (Note I said not “their ministries,” as if they went from one to another; they left “the ministry!”), #This.Has.Got.To.Stop!

God holds pastors accountable, not church members. If someone reading this blog post cannot abide by their pastor, QUIETLY leave the church. Do NOT take anyone with you. And for crying out loud, when you leave the church (Notice I said “the” church, not “your” church. It’s NOT your church; it’s Christ’s church), when you leave the church, leave your pastor alone. IOW, quit criticizing him, either to his face or to someone else’s face.

On the other hand, pastors, who holds church members accountable? Say it withe me: God! God does! Not us.

As pastors, we dare not abuse our spiritual calling by abusing the people we are called upon to serve, excusing the abusing as “holding them accountable.”

Don’t take my word for it; take Pastor Peter’s word for it:

1 Peter 5, As a fellow elder, I appeal to you to care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it…

(Ah Ha! some pastors will gleefully read. Watching over the flock. There it is. “Holding them accountable!” Really? Really?

Question, Reverend Petros. How does a pastor watch over the flock? Verse 3: 

Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example.

BTW, Who does the assigning? God does. They are not your people! They are God’s people. Paid for not by your shed blood, but paid for by the shed blood of His Son!

What does a faithful pastor do? Every week we show up to teach the next passage, and allow the clear teaching of God’s Word to do what 2 Timothy 3:16 says it will do:

All of Scripture useful for teaching and helping people and for correcting them and showing them how to live.

Then add to that, we lead these precious people by example, not by “lording it over” anyone. Which means what, exactly? Great question.

“Lording it over” someone means exactly what it sounds like it means: We are not their lords. We are not God sitting in judgment over them.

Pastors feed the flock and lead by example. Pastors do not lead as self-appointed lords over the people. Pastors are not krinos; we are not the peoples’ judges. I mean, you want to talk about spiritual pride? Who do we think we are?

As a practical matter, you tell me what’s more effective? For someone to be held accountable by a self-appointed krino named Pastor Dewey? (Though I do prefer Bishop. Don’t judge me. That was a joke!) Or for someone to be held accountable by an all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful God?

What in name of Christ have we done to His people?

OK! Look! I know, I know. Somebody reading this post will now commence to shouting, “But what about Matthew 18? What about Matthew 18?” You know Matthew 18, the go-to passage to justify our judging each other within the cozy confines of the church? Well, I’ll address that subject in this blog post tomorrow.

But just in case you can’t wait until tomorrow, you can hear the entire discussion by clicking on this nifty little podcast player.

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The Fast Track to Dynamic Spiritual Development

OK! You may well be wondering, “Are we really going take an entire message to talk about fasting?”

As you will hear in this PODCAST, Yes! We are indeed! And for some very good reasons. 

Just the mention of the word sounds like something out of an ancient Byzantine Orthodox liturgy. Certainly not something relevant to our fast-paced 21st century get-up-and-go, hectic, frenetic lifestyles. Which is precisely the point!

The fact that our lives have indeed become so deliriously fast-paced (Get it? Fast-paced? When talking about fasting? A little pun there.) demands that we build this discipline into our lives.

And just to give you one tantalizing clue as to where we are going with this: Fasting has much more to do with our time than it does with our food. As you will hear me propose in this message, fasting is much more of a time-management issue than it is a food-management issue.

fasting

It’s not at all surprising, really, that Jesus followed up His presentation of The Lord’s Prayer with this invitation to fast. Because here’s the thing: We can approach our newly-discovered insights on The Lord’s Prayer with all kinds of renewed enthusiasm and excitement about praying the way Jesus taught us to pray. (I certainly hope you do!)

But the raw reality of the situation is this: Many of us simply don’t have the time or take the time to pray. To get alone with God. To embrace the silence, an endangered species in our day, a silence in which we prayerfully consider the significance of each phrase of The Lord’s Prayer

I mean, if your life is at all typical, as you run here and rush there, you barely have time to eat, let alone time to pray. Which, again, is precisely the point!

So take some time — relatively very little time — to listen to this podcast. It may just change your life in a really, really good way.

Please note that depending upon your connection speed and web browser, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you as you listen. And PLEASE “Share” the link to this message with your friends.

HAPPY LISTENING!!!

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