Archives For The Local Church

2015 New Year celebrationWe have turned the calendar to begin another year. It’s 2015. Beginning another year is often a good time to pause and reflect on Moses’ prayer: “So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom” (Ps 90:12). One way to put feet on this is to consider areas for personal change in the new year. Things like resolutions can be a helpful way to take action along those lines. But it’s no secret that resolutions typically lose their glamour and allure quickly.

 

xxxxxx-food-hangoverHaving attempted to keep resolutions in the past, I’ve found a few things that have worked well for me. These are resolutions that have provided a launching pad for other resolutions; or, resolutions for resolutions. I have not perfectly implemented these resolutions, but when I have kept them, they provide the framework to build in other more specific resolutions. And some might put them all to work, while others one or two.

In either case, here are a few resolutions to consider for new year’s resolutions:

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Church discipline (Matt 18:15-20) is often messy, costly, and accompanied by damage. The pain experienced is typically unmatched when a professing believer must be publicly put out of the local church.

Even so, when practiced biblically, it is consistent with biblical love, care, and obedience to Christ. Mark Dever rightly says that church discipline is “a loving, provocative, attractive, distinct, respectful, gracious act of obedience and mercy, and that it helps to build a church that brings glory to God.” Along those lines, a friend of mine was biblically disciplined out of a large church and to this day he confesses that it was one of the best things that ever happened to him. But more importantly, it’s a matter of non-negotiable in God’s kind of church.

perilousNow, the existence of church discipline in a church does not mean that church is a biblical church. It’s a process that is sometimes abused. However, a refusal to practice it is a certain red flag. It’s one thing if a church leadership has not been practicing church discipline and is attempting to implement it. But it’s quite another thing if a church refuses to practice it. That refusal is symptomatic of other problems, making it an unsafe church.

Here are 10 perils common among churches that will not practice church discipline on you:

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batonThere’s always a bit of risk involved in handing off ministry batons of various sorts. In everything from equipping and launching guys to take over Sunday gathering set-up, to music, to home groups, and evangelism, no baton-passing is hazard-free. That’s part of the ministry. We’re all fallen. People have various learning and sanctification curves.

I still chuckle when I think of Jesus sitting around with the hazardous 12, handing them the baton to light the world afire. I chuckle even more when I think of the posse of faithful men who risked much in progressively entrusting me with various ministry and disciple-making privileges.

But baton passing is the mandate. When the Apostolic torch was put out in God’s providence, Paul exhorted Timothy and Titus to give themselves towards raise up men, even if it meant risk (2 Tim 2:2, Titus 1:5). Needs are too great for ministry hoarding. Entrusting is part of the leadership call and one which requires a diligence both in equipping and trust in the Church-Builder.

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