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Sample Church Discipline Announcement/Letter (unbiblical divorce)

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To be read before the membership

It is with great sadness and heaviness of heart that I stand before you on behalf of the elders of XYZ Church to share with you a very solemn matter. As you know, membership at XYZ Church calls for us to abide by certain moral standards. Certainly, perfection is not required of any church member or leader at XYZ Church, but our church community expects each member to respond to sin—our own and others—from a position of brokenness and remorse.

When a member of our church community engages in a sin and refuses to repent, the Bible teaches a clear process to restore the individual in their relationship with God (Matthew 18:15-17). First another believer should go to that person privately to lovingly correct them according to God’s standards. If the person repents, the process ends in celebration. If the person does not repent, the second step calls for one or two additional believers to be brought into the process to lovingly correct the person according to God’s standards. If the person repents, the process ends in celebration. If the person does not repent, the third step is for the matter to be brought publicly before the church so that the body can pray and pursue the person with loving correction. If the person repents, the process ends in celebration.

Today the elders are bringing a member before you publicly as part of this third step toward restoring this believer in their relationship with God. ______ has abandoned his wife and has repeatedly refused to pursue reconciliation with her. Instead he is pursuing what we believe to be an unbiblical divorce.

_______, _______, and _______, among others, have each met with him multiple times and offered consistent counsel that he passionately pursue his wife and refrain from pursuing an unbiblical divorce. The elders and pastors have sought the Lord in prayer for _____, corporately and privately, including an unpublicized 30-day season of praying daily for his marriage. Because of _____ decision to pursue an unbiblical divorce against this consistent counsel of the church leadership and against the membership “Covenant on Conduct” recorded in the church by-laws, we are forced to continue with a biblical process that publicly calls for his repentance and restoration to his family.

Finally, if ____ still does not repent, the congregation will be asked to make the difficult decision to remove him from membership at our next quarterly business meeting scheduled for _____________. This would also remove the privilege to participate in any church-wide functions and fellowships (see 1 Corinthians 5). _____ has been notified that this letter would be read this morning, and our prayer is that he would pursue a biblical course of action before any further measures are required.

How might you fulfill your responsibility to _____ in a practical way? Three items come to mind: First, please commit to fervently pray for _____, asking specifically that the Holy Spirit would bring him to a point of conviction, repentance, and restoration toward God, his wife, and his church family. Pray also for his wife and children during this difficult time, and surround them with your support while remaining respectful of personal details. Second, if you have a relationship with _____ you may contact him through email, phone, letter, or whatever means might be available to you. Be encouraging, but at the same time stand firm on the truth of God’s Word. Exhort him to be reconciled to his wife. Finally, we would ask you not to engage in gossip or conjecture regarding this complex situation; rather, we ask that you would respectfully protect his privacy.

This announcement will unsettle many of you this morning. Please know that difficult matters such as these are handled by the elders with much prayer. Although God’s guidelines are clearly spelled out in the Bible, this type of shepherding remains one of the most difficult responsibilities that God places on church leadership. Our continued prayer is that our brother will repent of his sin and seek restoration with God, his wife, and this church body. We look forward to celebrating his return on that day.

The elders of XYZ Church

Related Topics: Church Discipline, Administrative and Organization