9Marks: Loving Church Discipline

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Almost 800 pastors, students and church members from 16 different states gathered for the seventh annual 9Marks conference at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary about God’s plan for church discipline on Sept. 25 and 26.

The conference included six sessions and several panel discussions with speakers Danny Akin, Thabiti Anyabwile, Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, Garrett Kell and Mez McConnell.

“The New Testament has a great deal to say about church discipline,” said Akin, president of Southeastern. “This fact alone makes it all the more remarkable that no aspect of church life in our day is more neglected than this one. It is a dangerous neglect.”

Dever, senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. and president of 9Marks, opened the conference in Matthew 16 and 18, laying a foundation for church discipline as a vital aspect of the church. He explained that a good understanding of church discipline begins with a good understanding of church membership.

Dever went on to define church discipline, in it’s fullest sense, as discipleship. “Our churches should be marked by genuine concern, care and love. Part of that means we want people to repent of their sins,” he said.

Kell, lead pastor at Del Ray Baptist Church in Alexandria, Va., developed these ideas further emphasizing God’s intent to save and care for his people, “wishing that none should perish.”

“The love that Christ has shown you and has shown me is intended to warm our hearts toward wandering sheep,” he said. “Church discipline is not about administration, but about salvation.”

Akin, president of Southeastern, preached from 1 Corinthians 5:1-13 on “The Basics of Church Discipline” discussing practical steps to carry out godly correction rooted in the redemptive work of Christ.

Anyabwile, pastor for church planting at Anacostia River Church in southeast Washington, D.C., spoke on the posture that makes church discipline work, reminding the audience that humility is essential for redemptive church discipline.

“When we come to correcting God’s people, we had better we wary of what is in our own hearts,” he said. “To forget humility is to forget the gospel.” 

McConnell, founder and ministry director of 20Schemes and senior pastor of Niddrie Community Church in Edinburgh, Scotland, explained the importance of church discipline in protecting the church from false teachers.

He emphasized that there is a difference between false teachers who intentionally seek to divide and Christians who hold an errant belief. “Unchecked sin and false teaching is a disease that spreads through the church,” McConnell said. It must be cut out.

Duncan, chancellor and CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary and the John E. Richards professor of systematic and historical theology, closed the conference by highlighting how church discipline brings congregational unity.

“The Lord Jesus uses church discipline to cultivate respect, godliness and peace in a congregation,” he said. “Peace and unity do not just happen. It takes work, because we are a collection of redeemed sinners.”

Panel discussions accompanied each of the main sessions, discussing in greater detail the topic of each session and considering specific situations pastors and church members might face.

Southeastern’s Equip program, part of the Center for Pastoral Leadership and Preaching, hosted a breakfast panel on Sept. 26. Jim Shaddix, who holds the W.A. Criswell Chair of Preaching at SEBTS, moderated the discussion between Akin and Duncan on the role of preaching in the life of a local church.

9Marks’ mission is to “equip church leaders with a biblical vision and practical resources for displaying God’s glory to the nations through healthy churches.” The nine marks of a healthy church include preaching, biblical theology, the gospel, conversion, evangelism, membership, discipline, discipleship and leadership.

SEBTS looks forward to hosting the 2016 9Marks at Southeastern conference Sept. 30 and October 1 on discipleship.

To watch the plenary sessions and panel discussions online, please click here. http://9marksse.org

To view photos from 9Marks, please click here.

For additional information about 9Marks please visit 9marks.org

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