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Hide your sins and pretend like you're A-OK... or else

Started by Pete, April 17, 2011, 09:40:22 pm

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Pete

I wonder...  is this the message the church sends to people?

When a church member is caught in sin of some kind, the church often "disciplines" that member, by removing some privileges, calling them out, removing them from their position in the church, etc.  This is usually done to make an example of the person, to act as a deterrent to others, and for "discipline".  But I wonder...  do you think that this type of "discipline" is truly an effective deterrent, or do you think it only encourages people to get good at hiding their sins and flaws and putting up a facade?

O0
"There is no charge for awesomeness -- or attractiveness."

jiminpa

Quote from: Pete on April 17, 2011, 09:40:22 pm
I wonder...  is this the message the church sends to people?

When a church member is caught in sin of some kind, the church often "disciplines" that member, by removing some privileges, calling them out, removing them from their position in the church, etc.  This is usually done to make an example of the person, to act as a deterrent to others, and for "discipline".  But I wonder...  do you think that this type of "discipline" is truly an effective deterrent, or do you think it only encourages people to get good at hiding their sins and flaws and putting up a facade?

O0
Hopefully, in a situation requiring discipline within the fellowship, any correction would be prayerfully sought for what is the most likely to bring true repentance and be the best for the individual(s), and the body in general.  Obviously that is idealistic.  But yeah, IMO, anything else ends up being superficial. 
I used to worry and stress and strive to "do my part," never believing that I had done enough of "my part."  Now I see my part as casting it off on Him, doing what I believe He is giving me, and letting it just be His problem.  I don't have to fix everything, but I get to work along side of God.

pastorzzub

The problem isn't church discipline, Pete, that is just the fruit of the problem.  The problem is superficial relationships on every level.  However, when things are going well we can cover over that rather well.  But when church discipline is necessary, the lack of depth in any relationships is then glaringly obvious.

On a personal note, Tree of Life Church does not have a formal membership.  If you come, you are part of us, if you don't then you aren't.  I wouldn't impose sanctions on someone who is not in a position of leadership or responsibility unless their action was disrupting the church.  If you want to come to our church living in sin, whatever form that takes, you will be made more than welcome.  I have had to inform one lady not to come back to the church until we had sat down and talked through a few issues because she was continually telling people in the church that they were going to hell for different sins in their lives and was chasing all the younger men in the church even though she was married.  She refused to speak to me about her actions, went to a Bible study without my permission, and screamed so loud at an elder that she woke up the house group leader's children.  She then left the church, and had a huge tantrum, texting other people from the church and telling them lies.  I never mentioned why she left to anyone, so that was not a deterrent.

Another time we had a known paedophile coming to church and I sat down with him and said that he was welcome at our church as long as 1. he allowed me to inform the (two) trustees of the church of his past 2. he was not allowed to go to the second floor at any time during a church service (where our children's work was) 3. he would not visit anyone else who was part of the church if they had children, even if those children were out.  These guidelines were drawn up with Home Office advice and the advice of CPAS, the national Church Child Protection services.  He point blank refused to go by the guidelines (it was point 3 that was the problem, he wanted access to my house) and left the church.  He would still be welcome back, if he obeyed the guidelines.

No one else in the church except me and the one person I chose to sit with me while I spoke to him as a witness knows his background or why he left, so I know that I didn't do it as a deterrent.  I did it to protect my people, more specifically the children.

I do however think that leaders should be disciplined (in the context of a deep and mature loving discipling relationship) should they fail to live up to the standards outlined for elders in 1 Tim 3.  I have had to do that once before when an elder moved her boyfriend into the house.  I told her she was more than welcome to come to the church but her choice had disqualified her from an official position of influence.  She left the church saying I didn't understand how strong her sexual desire was.

It's not easy to make these calls.  You feel you are being too harsh and too gentle at the same time (every parent knows what I mean), but you have to bring it back to love and a genuine relationship.  At the end of the year, I have promised to preach on this to the church as a lot of people are interested in the whole subject.

DianeL

34
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
35
By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13

sharonl

Pastor Z - since I respect you so much I am going to ask you a question that has confused me for many years.

Since the Bible speaks of leaders having only one wife to be able to serve - here is my question - back in those times men were allowed more than one wife - could this possibly mean they should have only one wife at a time.

Reason for asking - my husband is divorced - ex wife ran around on him all the time - (Bible grounds for divorce) - he was President of our LUtheran Church - when a new Pastor came in he did not handle it right - did not talk to my husband or anything, just treated him badly and cut him out of everything - I did not find out until years later what happened, but my husband who was so willing to work, lost interest.

Your opinion, - thanks so much.
Diamonds From Heaven - help for the hurting heart
http://gentle.org/sites/diamonds/
Beautiful gifts - the men love them http://chopsknives.com

Pete

Thanks for your reply, Ben.  It's particularly nice to hear from someone in the position of pastor regarding this topic.

I would agree with you that church discipline is not the problem.  I think that discipline in the church is sometimes very necessary.  However, I don't think that what passes for discipline in many churches really is discipline at all.

For example, you mentioned the issue of 2 people living together out of wedlock.  This is a recurrent issue that churches must deal with.  It seems pretty cut and dry; fornication is sin.  You know it, I know it, and the church knows it.  Therefore, if you are fornicating, you may not participate in ministry in the church.

However, this approach strikes me as somewhat hypocritical.  No doubt there are people in the church whose sins are not quite as visible or in-your-face as those who are living together.  For example, what about the man whose life is consumed by pornography, or the woman who is having a secret affair?  These people participate in ministry in churches all over the world, and no one even knows.

It seems to me that when we become aware of someone's sinful condition, it changes our viewpoint of them, and I sometimes wonder, if that's not more an indication of a flaw in us.

Dana posted a sermon a while back called "Unpunishable".  This sermon talks of a married worship leader with children who had an affair for an extended period of time (years, if I recall correctly) that no one knew about.  And they were all raving about the praise and worship, and how God used this man powerfully, etc., all the while he was in some deep sin.  Yet the very moment that they found out about his sin, that all changed.  Now at this point, the man had repented, reconciled with his wife and his children, and was no longer in sin, yet this was the time the church felt they needed to "discipline" this man.  See, now they knew that he had been in sin pretty deep, and this changed their perception of him.

I hear it often; someone gets saved, they start coming to church, they get involved in ministry and God begins to use them, and then... they get caught at a bar, or they start living with someone, or whatever the case may be, and then they are removed, no longer permitted to participate, until they "deal with their problem".

Now, I'm not advocating that people should just run around and do whatever the heck they feel like doing, but I am submitting that such an atmosphere does not encourage people to be open and honest about their flaws and failings.  Contrarily, I believe it simply encourages people to get really good at hiding their sins from others, so that they don't face the consequences from the church.

This is a tricky situation; how do we permit someone in visible sin that is being used of God in ministry to remain?  Some say that allowing people to participate in ministry while struggling with a visible sin is like a tacit endorsement of their sin, but why do we think that?  We allow the guy that sits up viewing pornography all night to be the head usher (because no one knows he does it), but we disallow the guy living with his girlfriend.  Both are examples of sexual immorality, but only one is "disciplined", or more accurately, punished.

Anyway, these are just some of my thoughts.  I'm not sure I know what the answer is, but I do think the current system of "discipline" in many churches is horribly flawed.

BTW, the sermon "Unpunishable" is hosted here at HGO if you'd like to listen to it or download it (about 65MB);

http://www.hisgraceoasis.com/audio/unpunishable.mp3


O0
"There is no charge for awesomeness -- or attractiveness."

pastorzzub

Getting personal now, I was fornicating with my wife a good six months before we got married.  She was my first - after all the talks about waiting for the right person, no one really mentioned wait for the right time!

Now for six months I was respected by my community, church and everyone else, who often came to me for wisdom and guidance.  Following this, I got right with God.  I told 10 people who I knew best, quit doing it, and just waited for the stones to fly, and they did.  Mrs Zzub had it worse, girls are more catty than guys, and a lot of guys are wishing they were having sex and aren't too critical.

But I tell you what, I enjoyed being true to God and people knowing I had  done something wrong than the other way around, and I mean that totally.

The thing  about "secret" sin is Pete is that it is a secret, you can only act on what you know.  You are not being hypocritical, you are just being ignorant.  It's not a conspiracy, it's d just you didn't know.  When I didn't know this woman had moved her boyfriend in, that was her sin and her problem.  When I found out about the fact one of my  elders was living with a man who was not her husband, I had to act or I would be complicit.

I agree that knowing tfacts about someone's life should not make us think less of them - they are still a blood boughtsh child of God.  But I don't agree that removing someone from a position of responsibility and influence is somehow off-putting.  Not necessarily.  Someone in our church did something they should not have a few months ago, and then did it a second time.  They
are in a position of great influence in the church (not me, just to add, lol!).  They needed some time off.  I asked the Lord for wisdom, and I took over their position for about 2 months and gave them space to deal with it.  Asking them to deal with their ministry AND deal with understanding their righteousness and how to walk in it at the same time is an immense pressure.  That is wrong.  The church doesn't know why I have take on that role, and I am not telling them.  I am hopefully passing the group in the next few weeks back to them. 

I think the problem we often have is we separate judging from ruling.  Christians can judge, but only what they are in charge of.  If someone in another church did that, I would simply show love because it is none of my business.

Pete

Quote from: pastorzzub on April 18, 2011, 11:17:12 am
Getting personal now, I was fornicating with my wife a good six months before we got married.  She was my first - after all the talks about waiting for the right person, no one really mentioned wait for the right time!


:X

Kidding.  :P Suffice to say, my past is not real rosy either...  :shifty:

Quote from: pastorzzub on April 18, 2011, 11:17:12 am
Now for six months I was respected by my community, church and everyone else, who often came to me for wisdom and guidance.  Following this, I got right with God.  I told 10 people who I knew best, quit doing it, and just waited for the stones to fly, and they did.  Mrs Zzub had it worse, girls are more catty than guys, and a lot of guys are wishing they were having sex and aren't too critical.

But I tell you what, I enjoyed being true to God and people knowing I had  done something wrong than the other way around, and I mean that totally.


That's great!

But what about people who aren't quite to that point yet?

Quote from: pastorzzub on April 18, 2011, 11:17:12 am
The thing  about "secret" sin is Pete is that it is a secret, you can only act on what you know.  You are not being hypocritical, you are just being ignorant.  It's not a conspiracy, it's d just you didn't know.


I guess it depends.  When I hear the reasons why people give for removing people from positions of ministry, it's usually because they feel that they're a bad example, or they're afraid that God would be unable to use them effectively because of their sin.   This is what I believe is rather hypocritical of us, knowingly or otherwise, because we are essentially saying, you can be a good example, and God can use you mightily, if only you keep your sin secret, but don't you dare let anyone find out about it.

Quote from: pastorzzub on April 18, 2011, 11:17:12 am
When I didn't know this woman had moved her boyfriend in, that was her sin and her problem.  When I found out about the fact one of my  elders was living with a man who was not her husband, I had to act or I would be complicit.


Why would you say that makes you complicit?  Isn't it possible to express that you disapprove of someone's sinful choices while still permitting them to be used by God?

Granted, you're in a unique position as a pastor; you do have a greater responsibility than the average church-goer for your congregation.  But I'm wondering, as has my own pastor and the leadership team at our church, if we aren't sometimes unwittingly usurping the position of the Holy Spirit in people's lives.

Quote from: pastorzzub on April 18, 2011, 11:17:12 am
I agree that knowing tfacts about someone's life should not make us think less of them - they are still a blood boughtsh child of God.  But I don't agree that removing someone from a position of responsibility and influence is somehow off-putting.  Not necessarily.  Someone in our church did something they should not have a few months ago, and then did it a second time.  They
are in a position of great influence in the church (not me, just to add, lol!).  They needed some time off.  I asked the Lord for wisdom, and I took over their position for about 2 months and gave them space to deal with it.  Asking them to deal with their ministry AND deal with understanding their righteousness and how to walk in it at the same time is an immense pressure.  That is wrong.  The church doesn't know why I have take on that role, and I am not telling them.  I am hopefully passing the group in the next few weeks back to them.


That sounds like good wisdom to me.  It also sounds like a pretty good model for discipline, with an emphasis on restoration, and not punishment.

Quote from: pastorzzub on April 18, 2011, 11:17:12 am
I think the problem we often have is we separate judging from ruling.  Christians can judge, but only what they are in charge of.  If someone in another church did that, I would simply show love because it is none of my business.


That's a good point.  Only where you have authority can you do anything about it.

But still I wonder if our punitive measures are as effective as we think.  I think it all goes back to your first statement about relationship.   If there is no relationship, then "discipline" is completely useless, and in many cases, counterproductive.

O0
"There is no charge for awesomeness -- or attractiveness."

DiscipleHeLovesToo

here's my opinion (free and possibly worth that price  :) )

the real problem is that most churches apply '5 sense perceivable' qualifications to determine who should be selected for a position of leadership, rather than patiently seeking the leading of the Holy Spirit.

the flip side of this coin is that nobody (whom the Holy Spirit put in a position of leadership) should be removed from a position of authority without clear leading of the Holy Spirit to do so - because the Holy Spirit is the one who should be in charge.  after all, nothing spiritual can be accurately judged with the senses. 

it's not the example of outward holiness that affects the hearts of people, it's the example of the selfless love of God that causes change.

all right now, put those rocks down! :)

Joh 17:3  And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

Pete

Quote from: DiscipleHeLovesToo on April 18, 2011, 12:48:34 pm
here's my opinion (free and possibly worth that price  :) )

the real problem is that most churches apply '5 sense perceivable' qualifications to determine who should be selected for a position of leadership, rather than patiently seeking the leading of the Holy Spirit.

the flip side of this coin is that nobody (whom the Holy Spirit put in a position of leadership) should be removed from a position of authority without clear leading of the Holy Spirit to do so - because the Holy Spirit is the one who should be in charge.  after all, nothing spiritual can be accurately judged with the senses. 

it's not the example of outward holiness that affects the hearts of people, it's the example of the selfless love of God that causes change.

all right now, put those rocks down! :)


No rocks here...  :P

In fact, I think I might agree with you.  ;)

Are you saying that just because we perceive something (i.e., we see evidence of sin in someone's life), this does not mean we should necessarily jump to removing them from their position?

O0
"There is no charge for awesomeness -- or attractiveness."

DiscipleHeLovesToo

Quote from: Pete on April 18, 2011, 01:14:55 pm
Are you saying that just because we perceive something (i.e., we see evidence of sin in someone's life), this does not mean we should necessarily jump to removing them from their position?

O0
quote from Pete


exactly - in ALL things be led.

the problem begins when we start assigning different weights to the manifestations of sin.  when i look into the Word, i see that 'sin' is simply not believing God about something.  the things we call 'sins' are merely the manifestations of the one sin of unbelief. 

most people would not think it terrible if a deacon told a white lie to keep from hurting someone's feelings - such as telling a mother whose baby had died that 'God needed your baby in heaven' - but God doesn't kill babies anymore than He kills anyone else in a flesh body these days - and God HATES lies - there is no such thing as a 'white' lie.  such a lie could cause that mother to never completely trust in God's goodness again.

the point being that everyone has some unbelief - sin - in their life

let's say a deacon gets arrested for being a rapist - does that mean that he's guilty?  what if he gets convicted?  is the justice system perfect?  of course, if the deacon's heart is right with the Lord, he'll probably step down voluntarily to keep from confusing the baby Christians who haven't learned to be led by the Holy Spirit yet - unless he's led not to by the Holy Spirit.  if he's innocent and so led, and the local body's leadership also is so led, then they should leave him in that role - never ever go against the clear leading of the Holy Spirit, no matter what the cost.  yes, this could reduce the attendance of that body of believers - but remember John 6:66 - Jesus wasn't moved by attendance or ridicule - He was moved only by the Holy Spirit.

that would get me thrown out of most churches  :)

GLYB!!!
Joh 17:3  And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

Daughter of the King

This is a very interesting :-)

My previous church fellowship had major problems with a lack of discipline. The pastor when we first joined around ten years ago we later discovered had been on aslipoery slope for a number of years andbehaviours that were clearly sinful were not challenged by fellow pastors who were aware of what was going on. Eventually it was discovered that he was involved in a homosexual lifestyle in secret, his marriage and ministry were destroyed and he  is still active in that lifestyle. It seems like by not dealing with earlier problems the other pastors almost encouraged this man to secretly live out a sinful life and still minister. Perhaps if there had been discipline earlier and in a loving manner then this man's life and ministry could have been different.

More recently the subsequent pastor's desire for there to be much more transparency and biblical discipline lead to a major congregational uprising, a bitter split and extreme stress that contributed to his premature death. 

I have to be honest and say I struggle with the whole concept of exactly how the issue of discipline should be handled. I think there is at times a real need for some kind of public discipline but the problem can be the back lash of the christian gossips who instead of showing love and support, tear down and share "prayer concerns".  I think that we all need to be cautious in these situations as I know myself that there are areas of my life that I would not want under public scrutiny. Guess it's all about balance between removing the planks from our own eyes and expelling the immoral brother!


SOZO = salvation, healing, restoration, prosperity, freedom! PTL!

Pete

Quote from: heatherfb on April 18, 2011, 04:52:48 pm
This is a very interesting :-)

My previous church fellowship had major problems with a lack of discipline. The pastor when we first joined around ten years ago we later discovered had been on aslipoery slope for a number of years andbehaviours that were clearly sinful were not challenged by fellow pastors who were aware of what was going on. Eventually it was discovered that he was involved in a homosexual lifestyle in secret, his marriage and ministry were destroyed and he  is still active in that lifestyle. It seems like by not dealing with earlier problems the other pastors almost encouraged this man to secretly live out a sinful life and still minister. Perhaps if there had been discipline earlier and in a loving manner then this man's life and ministry could have been different.


That's pretty crazy!

In a case like that, I think it would be incumbent upon the other pastors to approach the pastor in sin with an offer to help him.  I wouldn't envy the person in that situation...

Quote from: heatherfb on April 18, 2011, 04:52:48 pm
More recently the subsequent pastor's desire for there to be much more transparency and biblical discipline lead to a major congregational uprising, a bitter split and extreme stress that contributed to his premature death. 

I have to be honest and say I struggle with the whole concept of exactly how the issue of discipline should be handled. I think there is at times a real need for some kind of public discipline but the problem can be the back lash of the christian gossips who instead of showing love and support, tear down and share "prayer concerns".  I think that we all need to be cautious in these situations as I know myself that there are areas of my life that I would not want under public scrutiny. Guess it's all about balance between removing the planks from our own eyes and expelling the immoral brother!


I too struggle with the issue of how discipline should be handled in the church, which is why I started the topic.  ;)

One thing I do know for sure; It's definitely crucial to be sure that we're being led by the Holy Spirit in situations like this.

O0
"There is no charge for awesomeness -- or attractiveness."

Renee

Quotewhen the church accepts sin instead of turning
from it then she throws the cross, nails and crown of thorns right back in the
face of Christ.
me on FB this mornin
THE DEFINITION OF REVIVAL

1. Falling in love with Jesus all over again

2. Having the Joy of your salvation restored

JohnDB

Let's try to remember that the ultimate goal of discipline is to restore the member back to full fellowship.

Now in some congregations we find the Wolves tending to the flock. In others it seems that we find a few strands of wheat in a tare field.

Sooooo

Transparency is a very good thing. Especially when REAL fruits of the Spirit are being exhibited. The chief fruit being grace. If I find myself in a group without grace I do not cast pearls before the swine. I RUN.
I wanna die like grandpa, peacefully and in his sleep. Not like the passengers in his car...they were all screaming and panicking.

Daughter of the King

What things do you all think people should be challenged on? A lot of the stuff that has been mentioned on here relates to stuff of a sexual nature but what about other areas like gossip or criticism? Is the churchfocussing too much on one area? How can we get a balance without picking on every little thing?

SOZO = salvation, healing, restoration, prosperity, freedom! PTL!

Pete

Quote from: heatherfb on April 19, 2011, 03:18:34 am
What things do you all think people should be challenged on? A lot of the stuff that has been mentioned on here relates to stuff of a sexual nature but what about other areas like gossip or criticism? Is the churchfocussing too much on one area? How can we get a balance without picking on every little thing?


This is kind of what I was alluding to when I said that the church portrays a hypocritical stance on sin.

There is no doubt that sexual sins can have greater consequences than other types of sin.  You could find yourself with a child that would impact the rest of your life.  But ultimately, sin is sin is sin.  Unforgiveness is sin.  Bitterness is sin.  Gluttony is sin.  Gossiping is sin.  Yet it does very often seem like the church has a very disproportional focus on sexual sins.

I suspect this is because sexual sins are often quite visible.  When a couple is living together, it's pretty obvious.  When you're pregnant and unmarried, it screams "I SINNED!"  But when you take too many helpings at the church pot luck dinner, or you go out for coffee after church and gossip about everyone in the church, or you refuse to forgive your neighbor, or you hold on to bitterness... these things are every bit as much sin as living with your boy/girlfriend, yet in my experience, little is done about it.

I think it was this realization that caused us to really think about how we deal with people's sins as a church.  Should we walk up to the large man in the pot luck line who is about to have his 6th plate full of food and say, "If you don't get your gluttony under control, we're going to have to remove you from the ministry here."  Or perhaps, "If you don't forgive sister Susie, we're going to have to ask you to step down."

These things may happen, but not nearly as often as, "If you don't move out of your boy/girlfriend's house, you're going to have to step down."

Why is that?  I think it's because people pick and choose, knowingly or otherwise, the sins that they feel it necessary to police.  I've known men who refuse to watch movies because they say there is too much sex in them, but have no problem watching films where they cuss every 5 seconds and kill everything that moves.  Odd.

Whether the church wants to admit it or not, this portrays an incredibly hypocritical message to the world.  We disallow people who fornicate to be in ministry, but we allow the glutton to sing.  This is a particularly interesting comparison, because both problems involve lust. In one case, it's a lust for sexual gratification.  In the other, it's lust for food.  But only one is condemned, while the other is very often overlooked.

This is why it's so critical to be led by the Spirit in these matters.  I know it sounds completely foreign to many people, but maybe when you find out your piano player is living with someone they're not married to, perhaps it's not our place to confront them about it.  Maybe it is, but maybe it isn't.  Perhaps the Holy Spirit is able to convict people and deal with them without any help from us.  Indeed, that seems to be what happened to Ben, when he shared above how he went and told people about his sin.

It just seems to me that the church is all too quick to point the finger at someone else.  It's almost as if we don't think the Holy Spirit can convict and correct people without our help (or perhaps interference  ;) ). I'm not saying there aren't times when we'll need to confront people about sinful choices, but I am saying that it should be led by the Spirit, and not based only on our outward perception of the situation.

O0
"There is no charge for awesomeness -- or attractiveness."

DiscipleHeLovesToo

well said Brother!

i've heard several major ministry leaders say that they won't allow themselves to be put into a situation where they are alone with a woman who is not their wife - even in a car in broad daylight - for fear of what people might think or gossip!

sad to say, many churches today have replaced the OT Law with a modern equivalent.  Come to Jesus as you are, but once you have, get water baptized; start giving tithes and offerings; dress up to go to church; wash your car on Saturday so it will look good in the church parking lot on Sunday; don't drink or cuss or chew or go with those who do; and stop that sinning or we'll have to ask you to leave...

GLYB!!!

Joh 17:3  And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

Pete

Quote from: DiscipleHeLovesToo on April 19, 2011, 10:37:07 am
...and stop that sinning or we'll have to ask you to leave...


Amazing, ain't it?  People struggling with sin need the Love, encouragement and support of the body of Christ more than ever... yet we think that's the time to ask them to leave!

I recently had a discussion with a lady on another forum.  She was all worked up because there was a couple (engaged to be married this October) who are living together in their church.  She began by saying that she was concerned for their salvation, and that perhaps the leadership was giving them a false sense of security by offering them communion in the midst of their fornication.  She mused "What would happen if they were to get into a car accident and die tonight?" (another "evangelistic technique" I'm not overly fond of, but that's a topic for another thread  ;) ).

So I asked her, what she would like to see happen.  Her response?  The leadership should confront them and ask them to live separately until their wedding in October.  If they don't comply, then they should be expelled from the church.

So I asked, "I thought you were concerned with their salvation?"  And she reaffirmed that she was.  So I asked, "How is expelling them from your church going to bring them any closer to salvation?"  ****crickets****

Scripture says that where sin abounds, grace does much more abound.  I find that when you Love people unconditionally and offer them the grace of God, it very often opens the door for the Holy Spirit to begin working on people.  All of a sudden and out of the blue, they'll come to you for help.

This is a much harder thing for people to do, because it requires us to relinquish control to the Spirit of God... and wait while He ministers to people.

A few years ago, I had a vision of me standing outside a closed door, pounding on the door and yelling.  But the door remained locked up tight.  God showed me that is very often what it is like when we attempt to correct people in our own strength.  But then He showed me when we offer the Love and grace of God, those people will then often open the doors where we can speak to them, and they'll listen.

I think a lot of "church discipline" is simply the church pounding on closed doors, and that goes back to what Ben said earlier, about a lack of real relationships in the body of Christ.

O0
"There is no charge for awesomeness -- or attractiveness."

DiscipleHeLovesToo

****crickets****

LOL - i love that!  the first time i use it i'll give you credit - after that it's something I got from God! :hugegrin:

this is why i don't attend a formal church (was that the sound of rushing air i heard?  i know some folks will try to violently inhale all the air out of the room when they read that  :) )

the church i attend is the church of the moment; i attend brief services at the grocery store checkout line, the auto parts store, the bank; with longer, more intense services when i visit my buddies or they visit me, and of course every time i attend HGO :)

to me, this is what the original church was all about - taking church to the world, rather than trying to get the world to attend church by coming to a dedicated facility.  not to say that there's not a need for organized groups of believers; i also consider myself to be a 'non-controlled member' of two major ministries - i attend their services daily in my car and other places through my mp3 player, and support them financially as a partner.  if i was in driving distance, i'd attend their services.

but as far as being a 'member' is concerned, i just don't see this concept in the Word (hats off to you Pastorzzub for the way you described how your church views 'membership').  i've yet to run across a church that doesn't apply a required interpretation of scripture to it's membership requirements, or that doesn't have an additional set of guidelines for members to follow in addition to the Word; to me, there's something wrong with this.  and then there's the 'standard' requirement to 'pledge' allegiance to a specific leadership in addition to the Holy Spirit. 

i have a vision of having a 'meeting house' where people can come as they are (there will be ashtrays and spittoons with a silent but high-efficiency air purification system, as well as recliners with airplane-style folding trays to put your laptop on, or ours if you don't have one - electronic Bibles are far more productive to me than the traditional book), hear a brief message, and then spend most of the time discussing it.  the standard 'pulpit' (an OT tradition) lecture doesn't allow the Holy Spirit to speak to the body through whomever He would choose.  there will be no alter, no big Bible (that no one can touch), no choir, no robes, no uncomfortable 'pews' with slippery cushions on them, and no cross hanging on the wall (that's food for another thread); no little glasses for grape juice and no little trays for microbiscuits or stale bread - we'll have a meal together with wine or beer or whatever your favorite beverage might be in which we'll honor Jesus and receive freedom from self-condemnation and physical healing as we rejoice in the presence of the Lord our God.  no membership, no statement of beliefs, no rules beyond barring the manifestations of the devil (and we'll offer to cast him out first so the enslaved person can stay once set free).

hey - put those rocks down! :)

GLY!!!
Joh 17:3  And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.