Model Forms for Congregation Discipline
Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 10 April 2013
Legal Notice: This article is intended to provide accurate information on the subject matter covered. However, the reader understands that the author is not a lawyer and is not engaged in rendering legal or other professional service to any person, church, organization or entity. Whenever an explanation or interpretation of the law or advice on legal alternatives is required, the services of a competent legal professional should be sought.
After careful investigation of the report, we the undersigned members of the Discipline Panel of [Name of congregation] at ________________ have the unpleasant duty in accordance with Matthew 18:16 to present a charge of misconduct against Brother/Sister (Name of member)_____________________ for [here set forth accusation in sufficient detail including places and dates to justify the charge] which violate the standards of Holy Scripture (here cite relevant passages) and the By-laws of this congregation.
Witnesses and documents that will be presented to support this charge include: (list specific names, addresses and document titles and subject descriptions)
(Signatures of persons bringing the charge)
Recommendation of the Discipline Panel
(The following form may be used if the congregation votes on separation from membership.)
We, the undersigned, of the [name of congregation] at ______________, having heard a report of accusation concerning Brother/Sister____________, to the effect that he/she had: [here insert detailed statement of accusation with places and dates], it being our duty to investigate the truth or falsity of said report, gave the whole matter a thorough examination, hearing all those whom we could expect to give us any evidence or facts concerning the matter. Brother/Sister_____________ was given a fair opportunity to defend against the accusation, rebut the evidence and question the testimony of the witnesses. Having done this, we find the charge to be true in the following respects: [here set forth in detail with places and dates findings made as a result of investigation]. In consequence of the above findings, we are compelled to pronounce Brother/Sister______________ a disorderly member of the congregation and in accordance with our rules of discipline to recommend [here indicate the form of discipline, such as suspension, denial of sacraments, expulsion from congregation membership, etc.]. [Signatures of the elders, board members, deacons, etc.]
Resolution of the Discipline Panel
(This form may be used if the Discipline Panel is vested with the authority to separate members.)
Whereas the members of this congregation having entered into a solemn covenant for the maintenance of congregation discipline; and,
Whereas [Brother/Sister __________] has clearly violated the Scriptures in that he/she has: [here set forth in substantive manner and appropriate detail the offenses proved against the member], and thereby brought dishonor on the name of Him whom he has formerly professed as his/her God and Savior, and grieved the hearts of his/her brethren of this congregation, and given occasion to the enemy to speak reproachfully; and,
Whereas he/she has been faithfully and patiently dealt with according to biblical direction, and earnestly entreated to confess his/her offense(s), and thus remove the reproach resting on the Lord Jesus and His congregation, and comfort the hearts that are aggrieved; and,
Whereas after much patient waiting and affectionate appeals by the brethren, he/she declines to acknowledge and repent of his/her offense, the Discipline Panel has determined that the biblical direction to separate the unrepentant from this congregation to be an appropriate act of discipline;
Therefore, be it resolved,
First: that in deep sorrow of heart, but in obedience to God's commands, we separate Brother/Sister __________ from the visible congregation of God, and no longer consider him as having any claim upon the rights and privileges of membership in this congregation.
Second: that this congregation does now and always bear its solemn testimony against the sin of [here insert appropriate description of ground upon which member is expelled] as an unfruitful work of darkness, eminently dishonorable to the holy God because he/she has "trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified and has insulted the Spirit of grace" (Heb 10:29).
Third: that if at any time Brother/Sister __________ shall give evidence of sincere repentance, and a willingness to return to God, and make his/her peace with Him, it will give great joy to this congregation to open their arms and receive him/her to a participation in all the full privileges of membership in the Body of Messiah.
On behalf of this congregation, and by their direction, and on the authority of God's Word, we do now therefore publicly and solemnly declare the fellowship between Brother/Sister __________ and the visible congregation, to be, and it hereby is, dissolved.
This announcement (or similar words) should be read only to the official officers and members of the congregation at a specially called meeting. Do not read it in a public worship service. If you announce the special meeting in the worship service do not announce the purpose of the meeting. The congregation board secretary should keep Minutes of the meeting and the Pastor should issue a charge declaring the meeting an Executive Session, meaning that the announcement and any discussion that follows it should be treated as confidential information and not repeated to other persons outside the membership of the congregation. A letter can be mailed to members not in attendance at the special meeting to pick up an important announcement at the congregation. If the congregation By-laws do not provide for making such an announcement, you should avoid describing sins in detail or characterizing the offender's character. When in doubt consult an attorney.
We regret to announce that Brother/Sister_______________ has been disciplined in accordance with the Congregation Discipline Procedures set forth in the By-Laws and by proper congregation authority in the following manner [describe the type of discipline, e.g. probation, suspension, expulsion, etc.] because of [here set forth in summary the accusation proved against the member], and thereby brought dishonor on the name of our Lord Jesus and grieved the hearts of his/her brethren of this congregation who love him/her. A considerable amount of time was spent in appealing for repentance in accordance with the guidelines of Matthew 18:15-16, but all such efforts were unsuccessful. [For expulsion: Therefore his/her name has been removed from the membership roll of our congregation and no longer enjoys the privileges of membership.] We encourage you to continue to pray for him/her so that perhaps in time repentance will be forthcoming and he/she can be restored to the membership of the congregation.
Copyright © 2003 and 2013 by Blaine Robison. All rights reserved.