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5 Stars Out Of 5
Important Topic - Good Conversation Starter
February 1, 2015
I am a pastor who read this book, and was so impressed that I asked the congregation to read this book. About 15-20% of the congregation did read the book. We held five one hour discussions sessions on this book. I believe church discipline is unfortunately an often neglected topic in the life of the church for a plethora of reasons. From my perspective, as a pastor entrusted to shepherd God's flock, God calls me exegete Scripture, and let it teach, correct, rebuke, and train the children of God in righteousness. Scripture tells me I will have to give an account for the people I oversee. (Hebrews 13:17) I take this calling as a pastor seriously, therefore, I think church discipline is important for myself and my congregation to wrestle with, no matter how uncomfortable.
I believe some pastors may be fearful about approaching this topic of church discipline. I understand, I am scared too. I believe people in churches may lack biblical knowledge, and are caught off guard with no category to begin thinking about this topic. This book helps provide the railroad tracks to lay a foundation for a discussion in how we can hold each other accountable as we pursue God together.
I found this book extremely helpful in my context, United States 21st century ministry. Regardless of your emotional feelings about this topic, please give this topic serious consideration. Jesus' reputation is at stake, and the world is watching our lives. May we represent God well.
There are other, more detailed resources available on the subject of church discipline, but Jonathan Leeman has done a great service by presenting a small volume that is able to serve as a manual for engaging in "the hard work" of ministry. The book's subtitle, "How the Church Protects the Name of Jesus" is the key to understanding why church discipline should even be a matter of concern. The reputation of Christ is at stake within every local assembly because it is the visible representation of His presence on earth during the present age. As the world interprets the church, so it understands the Savior who gave His life to build it. Generally speaking, by the time a local church senses its need to practice discipline, it needs a hands-on "how to" guide to help it avoid inevitable pitfalls. The first part of Leeman's book establishes the framework that needs to be in place before discipline can be biblically implemented. In part two, he presents several "test cases" giving practical illustrations of how the discipline process works. Although the principle of church discipline is firmly founded in the New Testament (beginning with the essential nature of church membership), the author makes it clear that a "cookie cutter" approach does not dictate every disciplinary decision. Spirit-guided wisdom and biblical instruction must always go hand-in-hand. Leeman's concluding section offers counsel regarding the need to instruct before implementing discipline (something all-too frequently overlooked by well-meaning pastors and church leaders) and the importance of properly organizing the church's membership documents in order to avoid disputes and misunderstandings when discipline cases arise. As our own church moves toward elder-led congregational rule, this little book will no doubt command much discussion. This volume is part of the 9Marks small book series which spell out the essentials for building a healthy church. They all, and especially this one, are highly recommended!