February 22, 2009
While the main object of Church Discipline is the prevention of offenses and not the punishment of the individual, it must be recognized that corrective discipline needs to take place. The individual must know that he or she erred and that there is a penalty for such. Many times in the exercise of Church Discipline too many persons just get a slap on the wrist and as a result the individual quickly falls back into his or her sinful ways.
No one is exempt from Church Discipline. Even Pastors are subject to the Discipline of the Church. The challenge is, some persons think that they are too large and too important to be disciplined and so they think that they are untouchable. As a result the Church loses its sting and others begin to take advantage of what they perceive as slackness. The result is things could get out of control.
Everyone must humble himself or herself before God. It cannot be a different type of discipline for person’s base on their perceived standing in society, as against some other person who doesn’t have that standing, even though they would have committed the same sin. Justice must be done at all times and persons must not only feel, but they must know that justice is meted out to all no matter what.
It is critical for all to know that the new life of the congregation is nourished by the cure and care of souls and the exercise of congregational Discipline. Though the cure and care of souls is a special task of Ministers and the other Saints of God, every member who has experienced the saving love of the Redeemer, Jesus Christ, is called to undertake this service.
The Church Order Of The Unitas Fratrum (Moravian Church) 2002 says at paragraph 103 (e), in the exercise of corrective Discipline the following aspects are recognized:
- Admonition by the Minister, either alone or in fellowship with other members (Church Council, Elders etc.) in private, in a spirit of love.
- Further admonition with temporary suspension from the fellowship of the congregation as it is visibly expressed in certain privileges.
- Exclusion from the membership of the congregation.
- Persons who are excluded shall be welcomed back into the membership of the congregation after a profession of repentance on their part.
Even though the Church Order of The Unitas Fratrum enunciates these four steps to Discipline, it is important to note that each case must be examined on its own merit. There ought not to be any blanket situation or the whole idea of Discipline would lose its meaning. The Joint Boards must be made up of men and women of character who live exemplary lives or else they will not be able to stand with the Pastor to Discipline anyone. Our lives must reflect that we have met the man from Galilee.