banned from church

The other day, Wall Street Journal reported about a church in Michigan that called the police and asked them to remove a parishioner on charges of trespassing.

The person in question? A 71 year-old, former member of the church. Apparently, the pastor was trying to exercise church discipline after she had spread “a spirit of cancer and discord” throughout the congregation.

The article explains the details, so I won’t bother repeating them here, but basically, the pastor removed the woman’s membership and asked her to not return until she set things right. Apparently, the woman decided to do things her own way and showed up on a Sunday morning (which prompted the 911 call).

It’s tough to tell from the article, but it seems like although the pastor was harsh (maybe hasty?) with the punishment, the woman doesn’t seem to be the type to help the situation. After all, it takes guts to show up to a church where you have been “banned” and it certainly says something about her desire to correct the situation. Walking into a service without any previous communication about it is a bit brazen.

I don’t have a problem with church discipline, but it seems to me like spreading “discord” is a bit too subjective of a charge. If a church is going to have a policy of discipline like this, it seems reasonable to have it spelled out clearly so a pastor doesn’t use it in order to silence his “opposition” (which is a whole other topic of discussion).

I think one of the biggest problems with modern church discipline is the vast number of churches available to people. If you confront someone’s sin (legitimately) and they don’t want to deal with it, then they can simply move down the street until they find a church that doesn’t call them out.

I have my suspicions about this pastor’s agenda but I’m a bit miffed by the way the old lady is indirectly portrayed as a sweet, defenseless, innocent victim. It’s clear from her repeated visits to the church and her final statement about her “right” to be there that if she probably had a hand in the unraveling of this situation.

Since when did we have “rights” as Christians? Read Philippians 2 about how Christ laid aside his rights. If people lived selflessly, these issues wouldn’t have to occur and become more negative press about the Church.

Author: erik

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