What Is the Scriptural Procedure for Church Discipline/Withdrawal?

What Is the Scriptural Procedure for Church Discipline/Withdrawal?
While there is no set procedure for how a church and/or Christian withdraws from an erring member or an unfaithful church, there are many authorized ways to do so. Each circumstance needs to be thought through carefully and prayerfully (unless there is an urgent need to act quickly) before correction and/or withdrawal occurs. The foremost motive is love (#1, for Christ; #2, for the protection of His bride, the church, and #3 for the unfaithful member or unfaithful church who is clearly in violation of scripture and needs to and/or refuses to repent, John 14:15; 1 Peter 2:17; 1 John 4:20-21).

Generally speaking, there are two authorized methods of correction and/or withdrawal:

Step 1 privately or directly (Matthew 18:15; Acts 8:20-24); (2) publicly (Matthew 18:16-17; 1 Corinthians 5; Galatians 2:11-14; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15; Revelation 2-3). One of the best authorized procedures and principles to follow when it comes to church withdrawal is found in Matthew 18:15-17: Step 1, keep the correction as private as you can (some exceptions would be: if a false teacher’s mouth must be stopped urgently and immediately, especially in a public worship assembly, Titus 1:5-16, or if the sin is so public that it must be dealt with immediately, 1 Corinthians 5).

Step 2, if the unfaithful refuses to repent, take one or two credible witnesses (to further establish the fact of the sin or sins committed and the lack of humility on the part of the erring Christian unwilling to repent. This also eliminates “he-said-she-said” or “two sides to the story”).

Step 3, bring it before the church (at this point it is the church’s responsibility to pray and try to save this sinner from the error of his/her way, James 5:19-20).

Step 4, if he/she is not persuaded by the team effort of the caring church members, then each member of the church is to treat this erring Christian as a “social reject” (2 Corinthians 2:6 - but still admonish him/her as a brother/sister, 2 Thessalonians 3:15). Another authorized procedure of withdrawal is found in Titus 3:9-11: After the first and second admonition (divine warning) to a brother or sister who needs to/refuses to repent, you are to continually shun/avoid (present imperative, v. 9) and reject (present imperative, v. 10) this unfaithful soul (no matter who it is or how painful it is). Whether a church withdraws from an erring brother/sister or not, the Bible authorizes each Christian to withdraw from an erring Christian (1 Timothy 1:20; 6:5; Ephesians 5:11; 1 Corinthians 5:11).

Never forget that not only is church discipline a command of Jesus, but it is an act of true love and kindness (Psalm 141:5; James 5:19-20; Galatians 6:1-2).



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