Article XIV: Church Discipline Policy

Section 1. General Policy.

At Grace Church, we take holiness and sin seriously. We were made to be set apart for God in order to love and serve Him and others to the ultimate end that God might be glorified and we might know deepest joy, flourishing, and love. Sin falls short of and distorts this loving design and purpose of God in creating us. Sin kills us, blocks us from fullness of joy, and obscures the goodness and greatness of God. Sadly, we are all sinners “prone to wander.” Yet in God’s grace, sin does not have the final say. Through the cross, community, judgment, confession, forgiveness, and reconciliation, even sin leads to the glory of God and the full resurrection joy of his people.

It is with these convictions that we seek to discipline erring believers as a severe expression of love, mercy, and hope. In love for God and love for neighbor, we seek through Church discipline to pursue purity in the Church, to restore our brothers and sisters in Christ, to deter sin, and to experience the realities of righteousness, judgment, forgiveness, restoration, and broken-hearted joy even as we demonstrate these same realities to the unsaved world.

The severe mercy of Church discipline is a blessing, a hedge, and a restorative sign of intentional and careful shepherding by the Elders. It is a process designed both to protect the body and to offer a very present help to our church family. This shepherding process and protocol of Church discipline is available and will be applied to any believer who has chosen by their presence or by their stated intention to come under the shepherding care of Grace Church of DuPage.

The heart attitude of the Elders in discerning and dealing with an erring believer through the means of Church discipline must, therefore, demonstrate the following:

(a)    They are to avoid both a spirit of vengeance and of arrogance (Galatians 6:1).

(b)   They are to view the individual as an erring brother or sister and not a bitter enemy (2 Thessalonians 3:15).

(c)    They are to approach the individual with sorrow and not sarcasm (Galatians 6:12 Corinthians 2:4).

(d)   They are to be ready to forgive the individual when repentance occurs (2 Corinthians 2:77:10-11).

Section 2. Offenses Applicable to Church Discipline.

Church discipline will be exercised in relation to all sin because it is God’s method for keeping the Church pure and because a failure to do so will result in damage to the Church, a weakening of its testimony, and disunity among the body. Of primary concern to the Church are the following:

(a)    Divisiveness (Titus 3:10-11Romans 16:17-20).

(b)   Unruly, disorderly, and undisciplined living (2 Thessalonians 3:6111 Thessalonians 5:14).

(c)    Conflict between members and egregious relational sins (Malachi 2:161 Corinthians 6:1-6Philippians 4:2-3Matthew 18:15-18).

(d)   Sins of the flesh (1 Corinthians 5:116:9-10).

(e)    Denial of the great doctrines of our faith (1 Timothy 6:352 Timothy 2:16-182 John 1:10-11Revelation 2:14).

(f)    Apostasy (1 Corinthians 5:9-132 John 9-11).

Section 3. Procedures of Church Discipline.

The process of Church discipline, which is to be handled prayerfully, carefully, and justly, begins by noting and marking those who are in need of correction (Romans 16:172 Thessalonians 3:14). This will be followed by four steps:

(a)    First step: Arrange a private meeting with the offender (Matthew 18:15). Rebuke him or her, and if the individual repents, forgive him or her (Luke 17:3).

(b)   Second step: If this fails, set up a second meeting, this time with several others present (Matthew 18:16). During these private and semiprivate meetings the individual should be repeatedly admonished (Titus 3:10), rebuked (2 Timothy 4:2), and warned (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

(c)    Third step: As a final resort, the matter calling for repentance will be brought before the Church body (Matthew 18:171 Timothy 5:20).

(d)   Fourth step: Upon refusal to submit to Church discipline the unrepentant one is to be:

(i)     Delivered over to Satan for the destruction of his or her flesh, in hope that his or her spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord (1 Corinthians 5:52 Corinthians 2:5-111 Timothy 1:20).

(ii)   Denied Christian fellowship and treated as a Gentile and a tax-collector (Matthew 18:17Romans 16:172 Thessalonians 3:6Titus 3:102 Thessalonians 3:14-15).

(iii)  If a member, publicly dismissed from Church membership (see further detail in Article VI, Section 10) with the hope of future repentance and reconciliation. There shall be no appeal to any court from this decision (Matthew 18:17-18).