The Liberty Connection

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

H. Conditions for Fellowship

E-mail Print PDF

Revised Aug. 20, 2008

Child Sexual Molestation...

H. Conditions for Fellowship


EITHER:

(A) The Offender is repentant and submits to the Requirements for Conditions for Fellowship below, and he will be restored to the position of a friend in the church. (Certain Restrictions will apply.)

OR: (B) The Offender refuses to repent, and he will be excluded from the church and from all its privileges.


THE REPENTANT OFFENDER:

(A) If the Offender is repentant and desires to remain in the church, s/he must:

1. Make a written confession, using the Confession Model as a guide.

2. Make a written apology, using the Apology Model as a guide.

3. Make a public Confession and Apology, using “Responsibility of the Church” as a guide.

4. Do 1, 2 & 3 above for ALL those s/he has molested in his lifetime.

5. Commit in writing to making a specific financial restitution to the victim/s; and reimburse the church for any expenses paid on his behalf; using the Principles of Restitution as a guide.

6. Complete a sex offender program under the guidance of a suitably qualified professional.

7. Meet the Conditions for Fellowship and he is allowed to remain in the church; although not allowed to occupy any church office or position of authority, such as a minister or elder. (Tit 1:6; 1 Tim 3:2; Acts 20:28-29)

8. For all his life, follow the written Restrictions for Offenders concerning his association with the church family and children; and also follow the Restrictions imposed on him by law as a sex Offender. If the Offender violates the church or legal restrictions, he will be expelled from the church.

9. Agree to give notice of any address change(s) so that the church Registry of Sex Offenders may be updated.


INTERACTING WITH THE REPENTANT OFFENDER

Remember that God delights in seeing sinners restored. “It is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish” (Matt 18:14). Restoration is the most desirable result of discipline (Matt 18:15; Gal 6:1).

Often times when a person has been convicted of such a sin, the associated burden, stigma and shame may cause the person and his family feel as though they can never hold their heads up again. The Scripture doesn’t apply discipline without hope. Paul gives instructions as to what should be done when a sinner repents: “restore such a one in love…” (2 Corinthians 2:1-11); “restore such an one in the spirit of meekness,” (Galatians 6: 1); and “count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother” (2 Thes 3: 15).

Just as you would be kind and assist a disabled person in areas they have difficulty managing, do the same thing for the Offender. For example, offer to be their chaperone at social activities to protect their reputation and to ensure the safety of children.


THE NON REPENTANT OFFENDER

(B) If the Offender refuses to repent as set out in the Conditions for Fellowship, he will be excluded from the church and all its privileges. This is the most severe form of church discipline.

If there is no response in repentance and obedience, then the Offender is to be rebuked publicly and church family members are to withhold intimate fellowship thru the process and procedure of group disapproval and social ostracism. No partiality should be shown to anyone for any reason (1 Tim 5: 21).

The removal principle was used by Paul, “Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person” (1 Cor 5:13). It follows the methods used in the Old Testament law where it occurs six times, each ending with: “So thou shalt put the evil away from among you.” (Deut. 17: 7; 19: 19; 21: 21; 22:24; 24:7) In the New Testament, Paul turns it into an imperative: the impenitent person who will not repent of his sin must be excluded from the church. There are several reasons for this: (a) “that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you” (1 Cor 5:2). (b). “Purge out therefore the old leaven” (1 Cor 5:7). (c) “Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person” (1 Cor 5:13). (d) “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor 5:5; 1 Tim 1:20). It is cause for mourning (1 Corinthians 5:2).


INTERACTING WITH THE UNREPENTANT OFFENDER

His removal or rebuke is to be held in public: “Against an elder… Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear,” (1 Tim 5: 20). The entire congregation should be informed and instructed how to treat to the Offender, and warned of any potential dangers. The New Testament commands strong disciplinary measures. The congregation (1) may no longer fellowship or be a friend to the Offender; (2) is not to mix or mingle with him (2 Thes 3:14; 1 Cor 5:9, 11); (3) is to “withdraw from him” (2 Thes 3:6); (4) is not to eat with him (1 Cor 5:11).

These are commands--not advice. Essentially, no one is to socialize with the Offender in any manner. Because he has not repented, he is to be shunned. All normal fellowship is broken. Any friendly overtures are to be refused. No playing tennis, going shopping, visiting, grabbing a bite to eat, etc. Of course, a Christian should not marry the Offender.

SHUNNING: If there is no response in repentance and obedience, then the sinning believer is to be rebuked publicly and members of the body are to withhold intimate fellowship thru the process and procedure of group disapproval and social ostracism as prescribed. They are told/commanded to “withdraw from him” (2 Thes 3:14) and “don’t eat with him” (1 Cor 5:11).

The Offender is not allowed to attend or participate in regular fellowship meetings, conventions, special meetings or take the emblems. The Scripture says he is to be treated as an unbeliever (Matt 18:17), and unbelievers are allowed and encouraged to attend gospel meetings. Provided his attendance doesn’t conflict with legal requirements, and the Victim and/or their family will not be present, he may attend gospel meetings.

It is the responsibility of the church members to pray that any person/s removed from fellowship will repent and to encourage it, for it is possible for the Offender to be restored if s/he repents.


EXCOMMUNICATION IS NOT IRREVERSIBLE

Only the person who repents of his sin and seeks cleansing and pardon will be welcomed back into the fellowship of the church. They must “bring forth fruits in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8), and meet the Conditions for Fellowship. About the incestuous man at Corinth who was put out, but afterwards repented of his sin and was restored to fellowship in the church, Paul writes “to forgive him and comfort him,” and “to confirm your love toward him.” (2 Cor 2:6 -8; 2 Cor 2:5-11). The congregation is encouraged to: “ be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4: 32).

Repentant sinners who “bring forth fruits in keeping with repentance” are to be welcomed back (Matt 3:8). However, any Offender must first fulfill the Conditions for Fellowship. Professing again in a gospel meeting is not sufficient evidence to allow him back into the church.

The church leaders should make a public notification that the Offender has repented and met the Conditions for Fellowship, and is restored to the church fellowship.



Next Article