Sunday, August 15, 2010

No More Tattling!

Church Discipline in the Home

You can put down your "spanking spoons".  That is not what I am talking about!

Our Pastor spoke on church discipline last week.  Church discipline is the process by which we are to hold one another accountable in living a Christ-like life (See Matthew 18).  For those not familiar with church discpline, here are the basics: 

Step 1 "Go to your brother" Go directly to the person and discuss the issue. 

Step 2 "Bring a witness"  Bring one or two others along to meet with the person - not for the purpose of taking your side, but for listening to and giving judgment concerning the situation. 

Step 3 "Bring it to the Elders" You and your "witnesses" bring the person to the attention of the Elders of the Church.  The Elders will then meet with the offender, counsel the offender, and if the offender does not repent, the Elders may choose to remove them from the fellowship of the Church.

A friend said to me afterwards, jokingly, "Hey, can I use church discipline on my kids?  Can I haul them to the Elders when they won't listen to me?" 

"Yes! Absolutely!  Kinda."

If God designed the church to be a family, and God has given instruction for how the church is to operate ~wouldn't it make sense for those same ways to work in our home?  Here is how:

Step 1:  "Go to your brother (or sister)."  When two children have fight, they should not bring it straight to the parents.  There is no place for "tattling" in the Christian home.  They must start by trying to work it out together.  When one is sinning and the other finds them in sin or is hurt by their sin, they should not come running to the parent but instead encourage their sibling to make a right choice.  (Dangerous situations are obviously excluded!).

Step 2:  "Bring a witness"  If the siblings cannot work out the problem, or if the one sinning chooses not to stop, it is time to go get Mom.   When my children come to me, I must listen fairly to both sides, and give judgment -- allowing the offender an opportunity to repent and change course.  I say "get Mom" because I am usually the one home when it all happens - but obviously either parent may come in as mediator.  As my children age and their world expands, they will learn of other adults or trusted friends who can help them in solving a conflict.

Step 3:  If the issue still is not resolved, it is time to bring it before the "Elders".  Not the Elders of the church, but the Elders of the home -- the united team designed to work as "one" and guide the family in Christlikeness.  This is when Mom and Dad meet together to address a sin issue that just doesn't seem to stop.  One excellent, and biblical, punishment is to remove the child from the "fellowship" of the family.  Have the child eat alone and spend all time alone as the family continues its time together.  This is a true to life consequence since, as we all know, those who are not kind and loving to others will not have friends.

By teaching this diligently to our kids, we are creating the next great generation of leaders for our church!  Children who are trained to hold one another accountable in the home will grow into adults who seek to live rightly and peacefully with one another.  This lifestyle, loving one another while maintaining a devotion to righteousness, is the ultimate form of evangelism.  For they will know we are Christians by our love!

And you thought you were just settling a dispute over who gets the cookie!

Now for my military friends... who are the "Elders" of your family during a deployment?  When only Mom is around, what other adult will back you up and stand in agreement with you when a discipline issue arises?  In our family, it is Mr. Tuck, our chidlren's Sunday School teacher.  If my kids get near Step 3 when Daddy is gone, I just remind them that they will need to go and see Mr. Tuck.  We have needed Mr. Tuck only one time... and thank God for him!

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