11.1 The practice of discipline is essential to the well-being of the Church. Teaching, mutual encouragement, training and correction are part of this discipline in its broadest sense, as is pastoral care. Formal Church discipline is necessary when a member neglects his (or her) responsibilities towards the fellowship or acts in a divisive manner within it, commits serious sin, or embraces serious doctrinal error. Its purpose is to restore the erring member to fellowship with God, to mend the broken relationships between the erring member and the Church, and to demonstrate the fact that Christ calls His people to be holy.
11.2 Its practice is seen in Matthew 18:15-20, I Corinthians 5 and I Timothy 5. In the first place, any member who sees another member acting in a manner contrary to the teaching of Scripture should speak privately and attempt in love to restore him (or her). Failing this, he (or she) should take another member with him (or her) for that purpose. As a last resort, he (or she) should bring the matter to the elders for the Church’s consideration. Members are not to gossip about the failings of others, but to care for them and pray for their restoration.
11.3 Discipline by the gathered Church may take the form of:
- correction and/or rebuke; and/or
- exclusion from membership. This step should only be taken when all attempts at restoration have failed, and is an occasion of great sorrow.
11.4 As soon as there is clear evidence of repentance, the gathered Church shall restore the offender to membership and welcome him (or her) in love, offering all necessary assistance as he (or she) seeks to rebuild his (or her) life.