Principles and Procedures of Congregational Discipline

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Principles and Procedures of Congregational Discipline 2017-01-30T21:40:51+00:00

Preamble to Disciplinary Policy: Because the God of Israel has said, “Be holy because I am holy” and because we as members of a New Covenant Messianic Community belong to one another and are responsible for one another’s well-being, Congregation Shema Yisrael shall be subject to the following Scriptural principles of congregational discipline:

General Principles

1. The purpose of discipline is always the restoration of our members to spiritual health, unity, and blessing. It is never for the purpose of punishment for its own sake but always for the restoration of the individual to our community.

2. Although we recognize that the responsibility for admonition and discipline belong to the Elders as our spiritual leaders, we each accept the responsibility as believers in Messiah Yeshua to watch over, admonish, and encourage one another in love (Ephesians 4:29, 5:21).

3. The Scriptures are the final authority in all matters of congregational discipline. The Scriptures describe practices that are unacceptable in a New Covenant Messianic Community. These include but are not limited to the following:

A. Causing divisiveness or strife

B. Propagation of serious doctrinal error

C. Participation in occult practices

D. Sexual immorality

E. Gross and confirmed abuse of illegal substances

F. Dishonest business practices

In general the Elders shall follow the Scriptures found in Romans 16:17, 1 Corinthians 5:9-11, Galatians 5:19-21, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15, Titus 3:10, 2 Peter 2:1, Jude 4, and other passages relevant to conduct in a New Covenant Messianic Community.

4. Those in a position of leadership in the Congregation are subject to general congregational discipline and to special discipline that consists of suspension or removal from leadership.

5. At each step in the discipline process, the member involved will be given ample opportunity to respond to accusations before any formal charges are brought.

6. Should a member involved in disciplinary action resign or withdraw from the Congregation, the Elders reserve the right to inform the Congregation as well as other clergy in other congregations as well as other persons as to what has occurred and to make appropriate recommendations.

7. Those people who attend services but are not members will be subject to the same discipline as long as they continue to attend the Congregation. If they, for any reason during the process of discipline, stop attending the Congregation, the Elders reserve the right to inform the Congregation as well as other clergy in other congregations as well as other persons to what has occurred and to make appropriate recommendations.

Procedures of Discipline

1. Public Offenses

A. If the sin is a public offense, one Elder will go to the offending party and show him or her his or her fault. If the guilty party shows clear evidence of repentance, the matter will be dropped.

B. If the offender still refuses to listen and repent, the matter will be brought to the rest of the Elders as those representing the Congregation in accord with Matthew 18:17. The Elders will invite the offending party to a meeting set for the purpose of resolving the matter. The Elders will be careful to contain the communication of the matter within the leadership of the Congregation and the member(s) affected by the offense.

C. If, as a result of this hearing, the offender gives clear evidence of repentance and acts in accord with the recommendations of the Elders regarding a restoration process, the matter will then be dropped. An appropriate statement of the resolution of the matter may be made to the Congregation if necessary.

2. Offenses Against Individuals

A. In all cases of offenses against individuals, it is assumed that the offended party will have gone to the offender first before discussing the matter with anyone else (Matthew 18:15).

B. If the offender refuses to hear the individual who has come alone, then the individual will choose an elder of the Congregation to go with him to present the case a second time. The primary purpose of the elder’s presence is to bring reconciliation. If that is not possible, the matter will be heard by all the Elders.

C. The Elders will hear the matter in the presence of both parties along with any witnesses either party may call.

D. After hearing all the relevant evidence, the Elders will make their decision as to what needs to be done by either or both parties. The ultimate goal is reconciliation. If this is achieved, the matter will be dropped.

E. If an individual refuses to hear the Elders on either a public or private matter, the following procedure will be enacted.

1. The Congregation may be notified of the offense at a public meeting or in writing. They may be advised of all actions taken by the Elders and be urged to pray for the offending party.

2. The offending party may be notified that he or she is now barred from taking the Lord’s Supper and from active involvement in any meetings of the Congregation.

3. If the guilty party remains unrepentant, the person in question may be barred from attending any other services of the Congregation. The Congregation may be notified exhorting them not to associate with this person until the Elders are satisfied that the offender has repented. The Elders may, without liability to themselves or the Congregation, state the charges and other concerns and recommendations as they have been made.

4. If the person has left the Congregation at any time during this process, the Elders reserve the right to inform the Congregation as well as other clergy in other congregations as well as other persons of the person’s status.

5. When anyone who has been disfellowshipped desires to become reconciled to the Congregation, the Elders, having been satisfied that the offender has truly repented and is willing to follow the recommendations that the Elders may make, will announce this development to the Congregation. He or she may then be restored to the Congregation in accordance with the following procedures:

A. A public confession of the offense with an adequate statement of repentance given by the offender to the Congregation will be given.

B. A declaration of full forgiveness and restoration will be made by the Elders.

C. He or she will be restored to the membership.