Sunday, February 25, 2007

How to Survive Discipline -- Introduction (part 1)

You've just been charged with something or the elders are coming to you with something that had been a private offense. This one a big deal for some reason, you can't just admit say you are sorry and move quickly. The first things you need to understand is that
  1. Guilt or innocence really doesn't make a big difference. The church doesn't have access to an investigative body. The only things that really are going to matter are if the leadership wants to find you guilty and what you say. Further churches are highly authoritarian structures that punish non conformity, while they can't admit to it viciously punishing an innocent person is probably more in their interests (that is it terrifies the other members) more than doing it to a guilty person.
  2. Your relationship with the church is unavoidably damaged. The good days are over. In trying to establish goals you are going to figure out what to do from here. But holding on to the past is going to do nothing but hurt you. Accept the fact that things are going to be bad for you. You will never (or at least for a long time) be trusted or esteemed the same way again.
  3. Church courts work on your conscience and they are very effective.
What the rest of this study is going to present is a strategy for the defense. Its designed to help you think through your options and weigh the plusses and minuses. It presents all the options pragmatically. The goal is
  1. to provide a "how-to" guide
  2. as well as help you to think of options you may not have
  3. help you consider plusses and minuses
If you still believe in "let go and let god" then you will hate this guide. On the other hand if you believe that trusting god to drive your life is not much different than letting go of the stearing wheel in your car and seeing how well god drives you'll hopefully got a lot out of this. Either way let me know and feel free to comment and discuss

The basic structure is to first decide on a goal, then:

Methods that allow you to remain in the church
Methods that allow you to join another church
Methods that avoid civil repercussions
Protestant ministers are discussing a full blown move back to church discipline. The membership needs an honest handbook that serves their interests.

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