Since accountability within the context of loving relationships is a vital part of God’s plan for spiritual growth, members of specific local church are expected to demonstrate their love for one another through mutual exhortation and encouragement (Hebrews 3:13, Romans 15:14, Hebrews 13:17, 1 Timothy 5:19). When a member becomes aware of a sin pattern that is hindering another member’s spiritual growth and testimony for Christ, he should first examine his own heart (Matthew 7:5) and then go alone to that person seeking to restore him in a spirit of gentleness (Galatians 6:1).
If the sinning member refuses to listen to admonition and continues in his pattern of disobedience, then two or three members should meet with him in order to confront him with the need to be restored to a place of obedience (Matthew 18:16). If the sinning member still refuses to repent of his sin, then the confronting members should bring the matter to the attention of the spiritual leaders of the church. Since the senior pastor is chiefly responsible for the spiritual welfare of the church (Hebrews 13:17) and has been chosen by the congregation to provide this spiritual leadership, the matter should be brought to his attention first. The other pastors will assist the senior pastor in dealing with discipline problems. Upon the recommendation of the pastors, the situation will be brought to the attention of the church body in obedience to Matthew 18:17.
The purpose for this announcement is that the whole body will, having first examined themselves, seek to restore the unrepentant member to obedience. If the disobedient member refuses to listen to the church, then he is to be excluded from the membership by a vote of the church body. Even removal from membership is intended to bring the person once again to a place of obedience and to the full fellowship of the church. All contact by church members with the excluded person should be for the purpose of restoration (Matthew 18:17, 1 Corinthians 5:11, 2 Thessalonians 3:15).
Only matters that have followed this biblical pattern will be brought to the attention of the church family except matters of public sin that require public repentance and confession. No member may be excluded when there is genuine evidence of repentance, and no information regarding private matters will be brought to the congregation’s attention when those who are involved have shown evidence of genuine repentance (Matthew 18:15-17a).