Optimism on church discipline by the imonk

I think Michael Spencer is ending his series on church discipline, and he ends on a high note. He gives a very positive approach to church discipline. The "getting kicked out" part is like the emergency room doctors pulling out the high voltage paddles. There is much soul medicine that could be applied beforehand.

He states,
I would like readers to consider what church discipline looks like when it is the church’s compassionate ministry to those who are suffering, rather than primarily a punitive action toward those who are sinning...

In other words, where there is genuine sinful behavior that is affecting a spouse, child, family or fellow church member, the church should act like the church, with gentle and consistent reminders and interventions pointing to the onset of a process that can bring the entire church into a “sin intervention” process...

Those familiar with the Andy Griffith Show will know why I always think of Sheriff Andy Taylor in this kind of discussion. Sheriff Taylor was a law enforcement officer who was capable of being tough, but he preferred to be a friend, encourager, teacher and surrogate parent to those who found themselves doing the wrong thing. Our leaders need to have the “Sheriff Taylor” attitude: Shepherd the sheep carefully and you’ll have to fire your gun a lot less often.

Andy Griffith? How about Jesus versus James and John? Those guys asked Jesus if they should call down fire from heaven to destroy an entire Samaritan village who wouldn't host Jesus and crew for a night, Luke 9:54. Jesus rebuked them and just kept moving. It is so much easier to shoot than to spend time with those on the path of selfishness. Especially when so many continue on that path despite our efforts. I think some of us get worn out from long evenings or lunches away from our own families with their own needs and conflicts. I also think we prefer the company of those who do practice self-control. They are so much more pleasant to be around. So even in the pews, we who have jobs but want to contribute to a healthy church, do not know if we have the time to be in people's lives individually. That is the benefit of church small groups. the load of nurture can be spread around. That's where stuff can happen. It's not one sheriff of Mayberry that does the work, it's all the volunteer deputies who share the load of nurture and encouragement and exhortation.

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