Church Discipline and Restoration

Over the years church discipline have gotten a bad rap , so much so that most churches no longer hold their leaders or their members to any level of accountable. While some of this comes from abuses (which sadly continue to happen), I think the main reason why church discipline has gone the way of the dinosaurs is because of our hyper-individual culture that says that my life is my life and no one better tell me differently.

Life in the Kingdom under the rule and reign of God is different though… in this new life, which comes about when one bows their knees to the King and follows Him, there is accountability and community as all of our lives are interconnected. C.S. Lewis once used the analogy on ships on the sea. While each of our lives are individual ships, we are all sailing on the same sea and if your boat is in malfunctioning and cannot steer, then everyone around you is in danger as an accident in bound to happen.

As community, therefore, we all need to listen to the Holy Spirit and throw ourselves at the foot of the cross, asking Jesus to repair our ship and help us to sail in unity with those around us. Sometimes this does not happen and the community as a whole has to correct the path of one of its members – especially if that member is a highly visible leader.

About eighteen (or so) months ago I was shocked along with many others at the news that our VLI teacher, mentor, and friend Steve Robbins crashed his boat. He made some bad choices and ended up having an affair….which led to his immediate release from leadership at the Columbus Vineyard and their asking him to take some time off to allow God to repair his ‘ship.’

In a brave and godly move, the Columbus Vineyard joined together to work with Steve in a process of restoration instead of simply sweeping him off to the side and acting like nothing happened. This action, while rare in our culture today, is exactly what our King would do as He loves and restores each of us in our mistakes and sins.  The Columbus Vineyard also has been walking with Steve’s wife during this time as she has been having to deal with the emotional and spiritual ramifications of her husband’s failures.

Today I have the pleasure of sharing with you all the news that Steve has been restored to full fellowship in the Columbus Vineyard and the entire Vineyard community!!! He has faithfully walked the path of humility and been in counseling for the past eighteen months. I am also happy to learn that his wife has walked with him through this valley of the shadow of death (I believe this would be the “for worse” part of the marriage vow).

If you would like to learn more about the restoration and discipline actions of the Columbus Vineyard , you can listen to Pastor Rich Nathan’s sermon “Restoring Fallen Leaders.” Mercy truly triumphs over judgment!

Peace and blessings to Rich, Steve, his wife and family and all the folks at the Columbus Vineyard. Thank you all for your example of life in the Kingdom.

3 thoughts on “Church Discipline and Restoration”

  1. Robbins did not just “have an affair” he repeatedly had sex with a vulnerable counselee who had been molested by 3 other authority figures throughout her childhood. He and VC leadership have behaved barbarously toward his victim for many years by fighting a lawsuit because they don’t want to provide her with a measly $50,000 to help pay the counseling costs she’s incurred. You can applaud this travesty, but God doesn’t. It makes me want to puke that I attended and gave money to this brood of vipers for 13 years. But I take great solace in knowing that without true repentance, they will face the dreadful thing of falling into the hands of the Living God they claim to serve. God holds leaders to a higher level of accountability according to the Bible, and this bunch is definitely on the road to destruction.

    1. Thank you Susan for your comments. I must admit that I don’t know much beyond what was released by the church as I live far away from the area. If it is like you say (and I have no reason to doubt your words!) then I must admit that I’m deeply sadden. The people of Jesus should be standing with the victim not the abuser. Eight years ago when I first wrote this post I was still innocent in how churches in general cover things up. sigh and double sigh. Thank you once again for your comments. May the Creator help us all walk in the light and may he continue to hold the abused counselee in his hands and bring about justice in this world and the one to come.

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