Handbook of Church Discipline

Jay E. Adams, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, 1986, 120 pages, $5.95, paper.

Reviewed by Chad McComas, pastor of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Corvallis, Oregon.

Just the thought of church discipline brings a cold sweat to many pastors. They know that it needs to be done, but they're not sure how to go about it. Jay Adams, a pastor himself, understands. He walks the reader through the steps of church discipline in such a simple way that his book should be on the want list of every pastor.

Adams believes that the neglect of church discipline weakens the church. He states, "One of the reasons why the modern church, though large in numbers, is so weak in power is that it harbors within its membership so many unconverted persons who, if the discipline were in force, would be eliminated from the ranks."

"Discipline," according to Adams, "is not, as many have thought, simply the negative task of reading troublemakers out of the church. Rather, first above all, it is God's provision for good order in His church that creates conditions for the instruction and growth of the members. Discipline has a positive function."

Adams shares his experience with church discipline and the difference it made in his ministry. He says that when people join the church they are not only making a profession of faith in Christ, but also agreeing to "submit to the authority and discipline of the church should they be found delinquent in doctrine or life." Proper discipline is an asset. In detail he shares the five steps of discipline from Matthew 18.

As a pastor, I appreciate this book and wish I had discovered it sooner, for it could have helped me in many situations. But I still plan to share it with my church discipline committee.

I recently had to deal with members who felt that a disciplined person could no longer attend church, and I found the section "Removal From the Midst" to be very helpful. Adams explains, "The unrepentant person whose membership in the church has been terminated is said to be 'removed from the midst'; some think that he is not to be allowed to attend the worship services of the church. That is a wrong reading of the passage." What's the right reading of the passage? You'll just have to read the book!

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Reviewed by Chad McComas, pastor of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Corvallis, Oregon.

August 1988

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