Concerning the ministry of confrontation, which sometimes results in church discipline, please allow me to commend to you the best book I’ve read on the subject. It is clear, concise (80 pages), practical, loving, and biblically faithful. In Pursuit of Prodigals: A Primer on Church Discipline and Reconciliation, by pastor Stephen Davey, should be read by all believers, especially anyone in church leadership. One of the most helpful chapters in the book is entitled The Product, from which comes this short excerpt:
Should the discipline of a prodigal accomplish its divine goals, he will publicly and consistently exhibit the evidences of true confession and repentance. Repentance is a change of direction: a confession of sin, followed by the desire to make restitution, rebuild relationships and, in general, make everything right. The evidences of repentance will be:
- acknowledging his sin honestly (Ps 51:2-3; 1 Jn 1:9);
- discontinuing the sinful behavior which initiated the discipline (James 5:19-20);
- seeking biblical counsel, if needed, to gain victory over sinful patterns of behavior (Acts 26:20);
- making financial restitution, if necessary (Luke 19:8);
- initiating confession and asking forgiveness from all parties involved (Matt 5:23-24);
- exhibiting a spirit of humility and brokenness, revealing a true work of God’s Spirit (Ps 51:17).
I then found the chart that follows—a contrast of temporary remorse and genuine repentance—immensely helpful.
|Involves emotion and will
|Distressed by the consequences
|Distraught by his actions
|Makes vague resolutions
|Makes specific restitution
|Wants public attention
|Humbly accepts obscurity
|Desires immediate return to positions of ministry/authority
|Recognizes need to rebuild trust over time.
|Makes external displays of contrition
|Displays internal development and change
|Finds fault in how he is treated in the process of discipline
|Exhibits submission to the humbling process of discipline
|Hesitates to follow counsel in relation to reconciliation/restitution
|Initiates action toward restoring broken relationships and making restitution