Monday, July 25, 2005

Mark Dever on Church Discipline

Christianity Today interviewed Mark Dever on church discipline.

Here's an excerpt:

If a church wants to start taking church discipline seriously, what would you suggest?

My basic advice is not to do it—that is, do not do church discipline until your church membership is meaningful.

With most evangelical churches today, the membership is fairly meaningless. And it would be weird to have two deacons turn up on your front doorstep to confront you about adultery or gossip, because there's been no natural conversation about your spiritual life. Not only should we be talking about football and the weather after worship, but also about our own self-denial or lack thereof, our response to the Word just preached, the way we choked up at that older member's testimony, how we've cared for a distressed family, about our concern to evangelize Muslims in the area, and so on.

When it's natural to have serious conversations about real life with each other, that's when you can start practicing corrective discipline. And once you start doing these other things, once you see the culture of the congregation changed where it really is the shape of your discipleship and the center of your life, church discipline is as natural as can be.

Read the whole thing. You can also visit Dever's website,, and get his book, 9 Marks of a Healthy Church. Also watch for his new book, co-authored with Paul Alexander, The Deliberate Church: Building Your Ministry on the Gospel. It is an excellent book, due out in September from Crossway. If every pastor were to read and apply the principles in The Deliberate Church to their ministry, the evangelical landscape would be transformed.