Speaking of Church Discipline

Christianity Today published a six part series on church discipline.

The Protestant reformers named three “marks by which the true church is known”: the preaching of the pure doctrine of the gospel, the pure administration of the sacraments, and the exercise of church discipline to correct faults. Today, church discipline is feared as the mark of a false church, bringing to mind images of witch trials, scarlet letters, public humiliations, and damning excommunications. Does discipline itself need correction and redemption in order to be readmitted into the body of Christ? We have asked several experts from different (and sometimes contrasting) professional and theological backgrounds to explain how church discipline fell into disrepair and how it can be revived, so that the true church can fully embody the pure doctrine of the gospel once again.

  1. How Discipline Died by Marlin Jeschke
  2. Shaping Holy Disciples Mark Galli interview’s Mark Dever
  3. Spheres of Accountability by John Ortberg
  4. Keeping the Lawyers at Bay by Attorney Ken Sande
  5. Healing the Body of Christ by David Neff
  6. Our Uniquely Undisciplined Moment by Thomas Oden

Al Mohler posted a helpful four part series on “The Disappearance of Church Discipline.”

  1. The Disappearance of Church Discipline (part 1)
  2. The Disappearance of Church Discipline (part 2)
  3. The Disappearance of Church Discipline (part 3)
  4. The Disappearance of Church Discipline (part 4)

John MacArthur preached an excellent sermon series on Matthew 18:15-20.

  1. The Discipline of God’s Children Part 1
  2. The Discipline of God’s Children Part 2
  3. The Discipline of God’s Children Part 3

Also see Phil Newton’s great sermon on the same passage, The Church as a Self-Disciplining Body (text or mp3).


Don’t think you know this, but my family was “churched” back in the sixties. It’s effects have been pretty devastating. As you might guess, I have a different perspective on this issue. I did practice a form of discipline when I pastored a Presby church. We removed persons from the membership roll for non-attendance. Of course, it was done in love, and we never had to remove any one because they were given an opportunity to change their attendance habits before they were removed.



I’ve heard several horror stories of church discipline gone bad. The pattern Jesus gives in Mathew 18:15-20 instructs us to work hard toward restoration of fellowship. Excommunication only comes after pursuing all other avenues and as a last resort before the person then becomes a candidate for evangelism. When churches jump to the last stage before going through the steps of restoration efforts, they go against the Biblical pattern and disobey Christ. I preached Galatians 6:1 yesterday and noted the key verbal command. Paul says “restore such a one.” He did not say “abhor such a one,” or even “ignore such a one.” We must do all within our power to lift the fallen, not to kick them in their fallen condition.

I was looking for some more insight in church discipline and your articles took me into some depth.

Thank you.

Pastor.Hemo Prasad Das
Worship and healing centre church