Tag Archives: discipline

Why don’t church goers accept discipline?

It is a thoroughly biblical concept that members in the Body of Christ should expect to receive and dispense discipline in keeping with the repeated admonitions throughout scripture to build one another up in maturity. So if that is the case; Why do most church members end up leaving after one of the staff or fellow members rebukes them harshly?

Harsh rebukes are only valid in the context of an organic relationship. Most churches, however, are businesses. Its really hard not to be when you have assets, staff, bank accounts, etc.

When you are attending a church that operates as a business, characterized by a view of membership that is more limited than “the body of Christ” (which is the only type of “church membership” the Bible speaks of), it is easy to see how someone who receives a harsh rebuke would feel free to take their business elsewhere. No one sticks around at a restaurant or a department store while the employee berates them. And no one sticks around a country club (who also have memberships) when the members there rebuke them.

Right or wrong are largely immaterial as the main reason the people are assembled in such circumstances is to partake in the benefits of membership, which, in the case of most local churches is pure entertainment, be it from the pastor (the one-man show), the praise and worship team (the musical), or any other pageantry the organization deems appropriate (children’s programs, guest entertainers, err “evangelists”, etc.).

Discipline is only valid in the context of a relationship whose aim is not entertainment or cooperation in a program or business venture. Discipline is painful, its not fun, and as such it can only be tolerated if it is carried out under the umbrella of something worth being disciplined for.

In too many circumstances, “church discipline” is merely a euphemism for bringing someone into the fold. That is, ensuring their behavior conforms to the standards acceptable to the organization. In most cases, the question of whether the person’s behavior has violated any transcendent laws is never asked or considered.

Since most churches operate as businesses and not organic communities, it should come as no surprise that discipline is considered to be a cost of membership by most church members and not a vital component to maturing as a follower of Christ (the head of the singular church).

If we view church as a small club, isolated from the rest of the body of Christ, then we will view discipline by members of that club as merely their opinions. If, however, we view church as the assembly of God’s people we will view discipline/rebuke as a necessary part of building one another up in order to make the body of Christ stronger.

One view of discipline serves to promote the well being of an organization that will not last beyond this world. The other serves to produce solid citizens/soldiers for the eternal Kingdom of God.

So pastors, before you complain about people not accepting your discipline you should ask yourself: Am I disciplining them to be good complacent members in my little fiefdom or am I training them up to be warriors in a kingdom that is far bigger than my petty 501c3 nonprofit fiefdom?

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Like riding a bike

We’ve recently undergone the task of teaching our daughter to ride her bike without training wheels. And through the tears we often hear the protest “you’re hurting my feelings” from our less than enthusiastic daughter. To her, riding a bike has gone from an enjoyable activity to a huge chore that her parents force her to undertake almost every evening.

While working with my daughter I couldn’t help but think about the parallels between learning how to ride and learning theology and apologetics.

Learning how to ride a bike is hard. Especially for children whose motor skills and sense of equilibrium are still developing. Learning how to ride a bike results in a lot of falls, tears, and anger. And worst of all, it is not over in a day.

The same could be said for learning theology and apologetics.

It takes hard work, time, and a willingness to risk making mistakes (sometimes very big mistakes) to learn theology and apologetics. Feelings are bound to get hurt along the way as we both develop and sharpen our beliefs and as we learn how to argue for our beliefs. Sometimes we get embarrassed when we go to argue for a newly formed belief we don’t quite fully understand and, due to our lack of experience, end up falling flat on our face when blindside by a rebuttal we hadn’t considered before.

And just like riding a bike. We don’t learn theology or apologetics because it makes us feel good or because the potential positive feelings later on will outweigh the pain experienced now. We learn how to ride a bike because it is a good thing to learn in and of itself. With theology and apologetics, we can add to this that we also study them because they help us grow closer to God.

No one said that learning theology and/or apologetics is easy.

It’s like riding a bike.

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Soldier

Some ex-scripts from an article by my friend Jeff Henning on being a Christian soldier in God’s army:

“Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.”2 Timothy 2:3

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Paul equated the life of a soldier with the life of a Christian. A Christian needed to have the civilian individualism taken out by disciplined training and the ‘team first’ concept installed in it’s place. He wrote “No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs” to mean that way of life had to cease. Being a soldier was a serious, full time job.

I wonder how we would change if we began to see our “walk with Christ” as more of a march?

About the Church, and Christian in particular, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:26 “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” This implies shared sacrifice, shared suffering, shared duty and shared reward. This is what we learned in boot camp, and what we should learn as new Christians. Jesus understood this concept. He said in John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends”.

Our problem is we bring our civilian mindset into the church. “my needs”, “my desires” and “my glory” is what matters. Shared suffering isn’t tolerated. The mission is clouded by special interest; Everyone wants to give orders, but no one wants to carry them out.

One of the sad realities of the feminization of the church is a lack of this mindset among Christian men.

Jeff’s last line contains a haunting question for us all,

Boot camp was tough, rugged and unrelenting, but it put in me the sense of honor, duty and courage. Christians, have you been to boot camp since you were sworn in to the Army of the Lord? Do you think you can take it?

I hope so, because what the army of God could use is a few good men who are willing to stand on their convictions, fight, and die for the truth.

Read the rest of Jeff’s article here.

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