A Primer on Church Discipline

Much of what I have written here in the past focuses on the formative work of discipline in the church – discipleship.  Within Scripture, however, we also find another form of corrective discipline, commonly called “church discipline”.  This series forms the basics for a primer I wrote for The Austin Stone to understand church discipline.

  • Introduction
  • The Theology of Church Discipline
  • The Heart Behind Church Discipline
  • The Practice of Church Discipline
  • The Outcome of Church Discipline
  • Church Discipline FAQs

An Introduction to Church Discipline

As the Austin Stone pursues being a New Testament church existing for the supremacy of the name and purpose of Jesus Christ, we seek to make the Scriptures our authority for all of our life together.

While God’s will expressed in Scripture is less clear on some issues than others, God speaks clearly throughout the New Testament about the nature of church leadership, church membership, and church discipline. The arguments advanced below, therefore, are our attempt to articulate the theology and practice of church discipline we at The Austin Stone feel is faithful to the Bible’s instruction. We will look at three particular areas:

  1. The theology of church discipline
  2. The heart behind church discipline
  3. The practice of discipline at The Austin Stone

In James 5:19-20, we read:

My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

The heart of the elders at Austin Stone to in practicing church discipline is a deep love for the body and the deep responsibility and burden we have been called to bear on its behalf as we shepherd the church. We pursue discipline because it is an act of love that reflects the Father’s love for us (Heb. 12:6).

Love and discipline go hand in hand, and you cannot love well without the affection of Christ and a commitment to correct with His truth.

What has been your experience with church discipline?  How do you think it plays out in the context of a corporate church and a missional community?


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