February 08, 2009
The first line of discipline within the local Moravian congregation is the leadership. The top leadership role within the congregation falls on the Pastor, the Board of Elders and the Board of Stewards. Paragraph 64 of the Book Of Order speaks clearly with regard to the Administration of the congregation; “the administration of the congregation is vested in the Pastor in conjunction with the Board of Elders, the Board of Stewards and the Church Council”. It means that from the Pastor to every member in the congregation, discipline must be exercised.
The Pastor must be disciplined in his or her lifestyle. Paul in writing to the Corinthian Christians declared, “Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall” (1Corinthians 8:13). The Pastor’s sexual life must be above board. He or she must be the partner of one spouse. In addition, discipline must be exercised in doctrine, worship, in one’s prayer, devotional and spiritual life, and in the preparation and proclamation of the word of God.
One’s word must be his or her bond. One’s talk must be demonstrated by his or her walk. He or she must be discreet and exercise much care with money. There must be CONFIDENTIALITY in dealing with others and in the exercise of his or her duties. The Pastor must understand that he or she is God’s under Shepherd to lead His flock. Self discipline must be so exercised by the Pastor that Jesus Christ would be glorified, for he or she must mirror or model Jesus Christ.
Discipline must be consistent, for if it is loosely exercised, the Church’s understanding of its divine calling and its inner life will be weakened. Paragraph 109 of the Book Of Order is very instructive: “It is, in the first instance, the task of Ministers or Lay Pastors appointed by the PEC to exercise Church Discipline through public preaching of the Lord, and by means of the special care of the individual souls. This care of souls belongs as essentially to the nature of the Christian Church, that no member is exempt from it, no matter what his station may be, and it may rightly be required of brethren and sisters that they readily and willingly accept what is done in this respect by the Minister and Board of Elders. Whoever withdraws entirely from this brotherly care of souls thereby proves that he/she is not a true member of the Church and must give an account to God. Ministers and Elders should remember their great responsibility in this work that has been committed to them. They must care for the souls entrusted to them, and above all, with careful love, go after such as fall or go astray”.
The discipline that is exercised by any organization and more so the Church, determines whether it stands or falls. The Church must be disciplined and ought not to be afraid to exercise discipline; however, this must be done in the spirit of patience, meekness and love.