Hopefully one of my books will ready for print by the end of January ’13. Here is the Preface, which I just finished before sending the manuscript to editors. I feel it reveals my heart in writing it. Pray the Lord will use it to help and encourage young pastors and elders.
If you are considering employing the steps of church discipline within your church—DON’T DO IT! That is, until you have taken the time to read and pray through this book. There are dangers, problems and pitfalls which await you if you do. The issue of church discipline is too serious to rush out and begin implementing without a thorough understanding and personal evaluation of our motives.
I knew an Elder who was young and full of zeal. He was elected to lead a church and extremely excited to do so. As the case with many young pastors, he soon began to see the lack of moral restraint and brokenness over sin in his congregation. Rampant immorality, gossip, slander, and backbiting were present and became known over the next couple of years.
Then one Sunday morning, after enduring all he thought he could, he addressed the church. He preached through the passage in the gospels (Matt. 18:15-17) about church discipline in one service. He closed the service saying, “From this day forward, this is how we are handling sin in this church.”
After the service, he retired to his house and enjoyed lunch with his wife, feeling he had delivered his heart and God’s heart to the church. As he finished his meal, he sat and reflected upon the service. Then suddenly he asked himself, “What have I done? How do I do this? Who are the witnesses? Which sins do I confront? How far do I take it? How do I restore someone? How do I handle them if they refuse to repent? Etc…”
Many questions overwhelmed his thoughts about the passage. He wondered how to carry out the words of Jesus faithfully. He had preached out of his frustration over the condition of the local church. His zeal, warning, and declaration to the church had gotten ahead of his understanding. The Holy Spirit arrested his heart and prompted him to slow down.
That young man was me, many years ago. If you feel frustrated with the condition of your local church and feel called to do something, I understand. I feel your pain and have felt your heart. As a fellow pastor and elder I have two basic words—slow down.
Before taking any steps, I plead with you to read and pray through this book. I cannot guarantee wisdom for all situations. However, I can offer some help in many of them. If you are a pastor or elder and feel the burden to see the local church walk in the power and purity of the Holy Spirit, I have written this book for you. It comes out of years of ministry experience, heartache, errors and a sharp learning curve.
I pray the words in this book will save you from some of my early errors, and that it will be a resource of help for understanding and employing restorative church discipline. If it helps one pastor, the years of writing and editing will be worth it. If it helps one congregation to be a loving group of believers who begin rescuing and healing their wounded, that is even better.
Nothing is as heart breaking as seeing the destructiveness of sin, especially when a believer refuses to repent. Equally so, nothing is a joyful as seeing a brother restored through repentance. There is hope for all—even you and me.
I have a dream. It is a dream that our local churches can be the shining light on the hill and the salt of the earth. It is a dream that she can be a chaste virgin with eyes only for Jesus. It is a dream that all of us who name the name of Christ would love other believers the way Jesus does. It is a dream that we would stop shooting our wounded, and instead reach out to rescue and heal them. They need us…and we need them!
Because of His Grace,