Home Pastors Articles for Pastors 12 Reasons Churches Don’t Practice Church Discipline

12 Reasons Churches Don’t Practice Church Discipline

7. They have no guidelines for discipline. For what sins is discipline necessary? At what point does church leadership choose to make public a private sin? Rather than wrestle with tough questions, many churches just ignore the topic.

8. They fear losing members (or dollars). We hope no congregation makes decisions based solely on attendance and income, but we know otherwise. Sometimes churches tolerate sin rather than risk decline.

9. Their Christianity is individualistic and privatized. Particularly in North America, believers often fail to understand the corporate nature of the church. We gather together on Sunday, but we do so while sharing life with no other believers. Discipline seldom happens if accountability doesn’t matter.

10. They fear being “legalistic.” Legalism can quickly become rules-centered bondage marked by joylessness. Church discipline assumes some standard to which believers are held accountable—and that standard can become legalistic if unchecked.

11. They hope transfer growth will fix the problem. Most churches are accustomed to members coming and going as congregations “swap sheep.” At times, a church is willing to confront a member in his sin—but only enough to encourage him to move his membership to the church down the road.

12. Leaders are sometimes dealing with their own sin. When church leaders are hiding their own sin, they’re less likely to engage others about their failures. To discipline others would be to bring conviction on oneself.

What have you seen? Why do churches not practice church discipline?  

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Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on Twitter @Clawlessjr and on at facebook.com/CLawless.