Monday, January 21, 2008

Leading away a 71-year-old church member in handcuffs was probably not a good move.

A tip of the hat to GetReligion for pointing out the Wall Street Journal's recent article on church discipline. Most of the cases cited were for "gossip" i.e. criticizing the church pastor; it would seem that most of the pastors involved were able to disfellowship members on their own authority.

Mind you, I have nothing against church discipline per se.
  • I have asked church officers to step down.
  • I have asked church members to withdraw their membership.
  • I have told convicted child molesters they could not attend unless certain conditions were met (i.e. signing a covenant that bans contact with children, and mandates the presence of an adult "buddy" at all times).
  • I have worked with the conference to disband a church company that was under my care.
And yes, I have even been heard to mutter that, in the course of his or her career, every pastor should be allowed to disfellowship a total of five church members for no other reason than the fact that he or she finds them to be really, really irritating.

But as the WSJ points out, there no way a pastor is going to come out of a church discipline case looking good.

That's one reason why our church in Lincoln City has voted that nobody can become a church member or be kicked out as a church member without a three-to-one majority vote of the church. If we're going to start messing with membership, in other words, we want to make sure this is something we really want to do.

(Click on the title of this post for a link to the article.)

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

"And yes, I have even been heard to mutter that, in the course of his or her career, every pastor should be allowed to disfellowship a total of five church members for no other reason than the fact that he or she finds them to be really, really irritating."
I would suppose that this is meant somewhat tongue-in-cheek. If not, I would find it hard to belive that anyone would endorse such mutterings. Use your pastoral priviledges for good, not pettiness.

Pastor Greg said...

Congratulations! As someone who posted a snarky comment anonymously, you've automatically gone on my list!