It seems that churches have often gotten it wrong when it comes to church discipline. Either the church discipline is too strict, or there is none at all. Properly balanced discipline is the tricky part.
Another consideration is that much church discipline is carried out quietly, patiently, and behind the scenes. Yes, sometimes a person needs to be rebuked before all, but not as often as you may think.
As a pastor, I’m concerned that if we get too particular about church discipline, I might get kicked out myself.
If you think your church or denomination is a little harsh today, consider a Baptist church of the early 1800s.
Bethel Baptist Church was the first evangelical church west of the Mississippi River. It was also the first Baptist church in Missouri. Bethel was organized in 1806 and reorganized in 1809. It was in an area known as Tywappity Bottom, about 10 miles south of Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
The following are some interesting entries in the church records concerning church discipline:
March 9, 1811 - “The church met in conference. Brother Matthews and C. Thompson to talk with Sisters McDaniel and Watkins for their neglect of church meetings.”
October 12, 1811 - “John Reynolds excluded for joining the Mason Lodge. Also Ann McDaniel for insulting the church and violating the rules.”
December 15, 1815 - “Brethren T. Bull and Isaac Sheppard to write to Brother William Johnson on the arm of Turkey Creek concerning card playing.”
November 9, 1816 - “Resolved that Sister Hannah Edwards be allowed to wear gold earrings for the benefit of her eyes.”
The church did not believe in elaborate jewelry, but it was believed at the time that gold rings helped the eyes; hence, church action upon this matter.
June 8, 1822 - “Brother Ezekial Hill laid in a complaint against himself for killing a deer on Sunday, and after acknowledgment of his fault, was forgiven.”
And you thought the Church Covenant and Baptist Faith & Message 2000 were tough?
-Reference: This Day in Baptist History II by David L. Cummins & E. Wayne Thompson, BJU Press, Greenville, SC; and God in American History by A. Lloyd Collins, Christ for the World Publishers, Orlando, Florida.
-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, January 25, AD 2010.
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