4 Reasons Why You Should Never Join a Church that Does Not Practice Church Discipline

A refusal to discipline members and to guard the Lord’s Supper table is one of the greatest tragedies in modern church history.

We must come to the sobering reality that what many people call a church in our day is simply a country club in the name of Jesus rather than a local church. It may seem very strange to modern Christians, but the church should guard the front door of membership and put a high fence up around the Lord’s Supper table as well.

 

On a fairly regular basis, I have people who reach out to me for local church recommendations as they’re planning a big move across state lines. Sometimes I have connections to that area and sometimes I have no church that I could recommend. When I evaluate a church for recommendation, there are several key factors that play into the equation that will determine whether or not I could recommend it to my friends or network through G3—and one of those factors at the top of the list is biblical church discipline.

Christ Commanded the Practice of Church Discipline

The basis of church discipline is found not in theological textbooks or circles of serious minded evangelicals—but in the very words of Jesus to his Church. In Matthew 18:15-20, we find Jesus’ command to practice church discipline. That passage, which is sadly overlooked and neglected, is the foundation for how the church must confront sin. It was the basis for the apostles as they engaged in church discipline as they engaged in the planting and formation of local churches beyond the borders of Israel.

In Corinth, a man was engaged in sexual sin with his father’s wife (his step-mom), and Paul’s words to the church can be found in 1 Corinthians 5. Paul told the church at Corinth to “purge out” and to “deliver his soul to Satan for the destruction of the flesh that the spirit may be saved.”

In Thessalonica, the church needed to practice church discipline, and Paul wrote a letter to them that directed them in that very direction. In 2 Thessalonians 3, we find Paul’s instructions to refrain from keeping company with any brother (speaking of a church member) who refused to live in a Christ honoring manner.  In other words, those who persist in sinful living, Paul said to refrain from having fellowship with them.  He concluded by writing the following, “And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother” (2 Thess. 3:14-15).

Once again, we find these words in Titus 3:10, “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject.”  The church must was called to practice church discipline, and Jesus’ command was the basis (notice the reference to the first and second admonition). Christ’s command became the firm foundation that provided direction on how each of these specific cases were addressed.

Throughout history, from the early days of the apostles and beyond—church discipline was a common practice. Gregory A. Wills, a professor of Church History and noted historian commented, “To an antebellum Baptist, a church without discipline would hardly have counted as a church.” [1] In each case, from the apostolic era to the antebellum era—Christ’s command was the basis for the practice of church discipline.

You Want a Church that Will Confront Your Sin

When joining a church, you want to be certain that the pastors who oversee the church and the members who make up the church take spiritual accountability seriously. A church that condones sin is a dangerous place for your soul. Not only your soul, but you must consider the spiritual wellbeing of your entire family (your spouse and children).

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