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Church discipline


Submitting to authority.
First of all I would like to thank you personally from the bottom of
my heart for such a forum as this.

My question is this. Our church has recently been struggling with a
discipline issue regarding a brother in our church. We had been going
through the scriptural procedure found in Matthew 18 regarding
discipline. I have been directly involved in the process as I was the
first to approach this brother one on one. It has been an on going
process which has not brought this brother to acknowledging of his sin
and in fact he has now left our church. The leadership seems to
believe this is closure to this issue. It has never been taken to the
church body and the excuse seems to be that we don't want to divide
the church anymore than it already has been. My problem with this
decision is that we or being irresponsible to the authority of the
scriptures and more specifically disobeying the Lordship of Christ.

My question is,. Is there ever a proper reason to leave a church or am
I to humbly submit to this decision?

This is a very simple explanation of a very complicated matter for me
and I am torn about it.

Thank you in advance for your considerate response to this question.

In Christ


The goal of church discipline is corrective and redemptive. If a 
brother refuses to respond, then he is to be treated as a 
non-Christian who has yet to be converted. How do we treat 
non-Christians? Obviously we do not cease to care for them as persons 
for whom Christ died. But if the brother leaves the church and is 
bitter or cynical there is not much we can do except pray and wait.

Church discipline also guards the holiness of the flock since "a 
little leaven leavens the whole lump." If a church does not stay 
alert in order to maintain Christian standards for acceptable 
conduct, compromise invariably creeps in little by little until the 
whole church is no longer a godly, separated people. The New 
Testament church is called to guard sound doctrine (teaching) and 
matters of conduct.

One of our good friends in my church is in this exact state of mind 
right now--having divorced his wife and moved away to do his own 
thing. He has been justifying all he has done and has not been open 
to reason at all. Ordinarily, each step of Matthew 18 should usually 
be carried out. Church discipline does cause some controversy in a 
church, but obeying the Lord is more important. In the case of the 
brother mentioned above, his situation is well-known, most of the 
church is aware of the fact that he has not responded to either 
elders or friends. He was not serving in a place of leadership, and 
he has also now moved out the area. I myself don't see any point in a 
public announcement in his case. It may well be that your church has 
gone far enough with the brother you are concerned for.

I believe you will find Ray Stedman's sermon on Matthew 18 helpful,


I am one of several people I know who have been through church 
discipline. It was for me a life-saving procedure. Now, many years 
later, I am grateful for the faithfulness of my church elders and 
friends who were obedient to Matthew 18 and thus they allowed God to 
deal directly with me until I came to my senses seven years later. I 
can assure you that God's discipline can be very severe when 
necessary. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the 
living God."

HOW church discipline is conducted is very important. I think this is 
clear from Ray Stedman's discussion of the subject. I remember 
hearing Ray preach the above-mentioned sermon--with tears and a heavy 
heart. I was sitting next to the disciplined elder's wife that day 
and she said the fact that I had come back to the Lord was a great 
encouragement to her. Sure enough, a few months later this man did 
come to the Lord and took corrective steps on all fronts. Today he 
and his wife are back in the service of the Lord and he is a blessing 
to many.