Another trip to the bottomless well of Charisma Magazine. “In Wake of Recent Sex Scandals, Do Churches Actually Discipline Members?”
More than 8 in 10 Protestant senior pastors say their church has not disciplined a member in the past year. More than half say they don’t know of a case when someone has been disciplined.
“It’s one of the topics that churches rarely talk about,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. …
McConnell says in general, church discipline would apply when offenders refuse to acknowledge their wrongdoing, persist in it or are no longer qualified for leadership.
Sounds like a workable standard. So, church is apparently full of people who don’t acknowledge their wrongdoing or if they persist in it, aren’t confronted. Did someone say porn? The ordinary guy doesn’t acknowledge it because he knows it’s wrong but doesn’t have an alternative. Clergy don’t confront the persistence of porn because the only Biblical alternative will, to put it mildly, inconvenience their daughters’ plans for med school and Justin Bieber.
According to the phone survey of 1,000 Protestant senior pastors, 16 percent of pastors say their church has disciplined a member in the last year. That includes 3 percent in the last month, 5 percent in the last six months and 8 percent in the last year.
More than half (55 percent) say no member has been disciplined during their time as pastor or before their tenure. Twenty-one percent say a member was disciplined three or more years ago. Five percent say there was a case of discipline in the last two years.
Pentecostal (29 percent), Holiness (23 percent) and Baptist pastors (19 percent) are most likely to say a church member was disciplined in the past year. Methodist (4 percent) and Presbyterian/Reformed (9 percent) pastors are less likely.
Overall, about half of evangelical pastors (49 percent) and two-thirds of mainline pastors (67 percent) say they don’t know of a case where someone was disciplined at their church.
LifeWay Research also asked pastors about the process of discipline. Few churches say the responsibility for discipline lies solely with the pastor (8 percent), church elders (14 percent), trustees or board members (4 percent) or church deacons (1 percent).
Half (51 percent) say two or more groups must agree. Eighteen percent say there is no formal discipline process.
Pastors of churches of 100 or more attenders (17 percent) are more likely to say elders alone handle discipline than churches with 99 or fewer attenders (11 percent). African-American pastors (21 percent) are more likely than white pastors (6 percent) to say the pastor alone is responsible for church discipline.
Mainline pastors (24 percent) are more likely than evangelical pastors (15 percent) to say their church has no formal discipline policy.
What you’re looking at is the tyranny of low expectations. Of course there are few grounds for church discipline when you, the average member are expected to do no more than sit on a pew, sing a few songs, maybe participate in communion or baptism on an opt-in basis. You’re barely noticed when you arrive at church and barely noticed when you depart. For what could you possibly be disciplined, when you are trusted with nothing?