Most of us have read through the church discipline passages and probably have given them very little thought as to how they might be applied. Unfortunately as an elder of a local church we are forced to wrestle with them not just from a theological perspective but from a very practical sense.
As many readers likely know, Matthew 18:15-20 is the standard passage used to define the church discipline process. The process involves four successive steps:
- private meetings between the sinner and the offended party.
- discussions between the sinner and the offended party with witnesses to establish whether the alleged sin is occurring.
- bringing the matter to the attention of the church is typically when elders start to get involved and has its own set of steps.
- The elders, similar to step 2, will investigate the matter and determine whether sinful activity is occurring.
- If the sinful activity is verified the elders will often meet with the person who is sinning to discuss the situation and encourage them to repent.
- If the person refuses to repent the congregation is informed of the matter, with the goal of aiding in the process of reconciliation. The unrepentant, sinning person is given some additional time to change their actions.
- treating the sinner as a Gentile and a tax collector
- this final step is reserved for people who stubbornly refuse to acknowledge their sin and continue in their sinful activity.
The goal at every step in this process is for there to be an end to the sinful activity and reconciliation between the sinner and offended party. The hope is that this can be done in as few steps as possible.
What did Jesus mean when He said treat them as Gentiles and Tax Collectors? Continue reading