Convinced but Confused?

Mark Dever
Wednesday, June 6th 2007
Jul/Aug 2002

1Study the biblical passages relevant to the practice of church discipline. Consider getting copies of Jay Adams, Handbook of Church Discipline (Zondervan, 1986), or the volume I edited, Polity (Center for Church Reform, 2001). Although the first is written by a Presbyterian, I as a Baptist think it is very helpful, and though the second is by Baptists, non-Baptists have affirmed its usefulness for them.2Know the practice of your own denomination. Consult with pastors that you respect.3Consider contacting the Center for Church Reform and coming to Washington for one of our weekends. Here you can look at one example of a church that has recently struggled to recover the practice of church discipline.4Communicate clearly to your existing members and potential members the need for church discipline so that they are convinced of the need for it in principle before they ever need to put it into practice. Help them particularly to see the great benefits of church discipline. For this, see my Nine Marks of a Healthy Church (Crossway, 2000) or the booklet version of it (Center for Church Reform, 2001).5Educate your new members about the expectations of church membership. Consider having them sign something that acknowledges that they understand such discipline and desire it. For more help on this, see Ken Sande, The Peacemaker (Baker, 1997).6Develop a body of godly lay leaders in the church who agree on this in principle and in any particular case that you begin to pursue.7Pray about the subject in general and with any specific case in particular.8Practice patience. It is better to go slowly at first and to make sure that you are bringing the congregation along with you than to rush ahead and risk causing the congregation as a whole to reject this biblical practice.9Remember that the Church ultimately is Christ's. It will not fail. Meditate on Matthew 16, Acts 9, and Revelation 21-22.

Wednesday, June 6th 2007

“Modern Reformation has championed confessional Reformation theology in an anti-confessional and anti-theological age.”

Picture of J. Ligon Duncan, IIIJ. Ligon Duncan, IIISenior Minister, First Presbyterian Church
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