In an effort to answer the question of what we mean when we say we’re “in” at Evergreen, we came up with 6 “core commitments.” These are what we ask people to look at, be aware of and commit to when deciding to become a part of our church community.
The fourth one is: on Discipline
A large part of being in community is teaching others, making substantial contributions to their lives, as well as being teachable, being open to learning, changing, and occasionally, being corrected. Very, very rarely, a church community needs to confront someone (as in the case of a spouse who is cheating on a husband or wife). In this instance, every attempt is made to approach the individual in a sensitive and listening way, but at times, when someone refuses to listen, refuses to stop hurtful/sinful behavior, church discipline needs to be enacted on behalf of the entire community through the agency of the elders. We acknowledge the authority of the community in our lives enough to listen and we commit to loving the community enough to speak. When we see someone acting in a way that is hurtful to themselves or to others, we accept the responsibility to speak to them in a loving manner.
While this one is fairly straightforward, and while it’s rarely needed, we make this commitment as a way of letting people know that in order for a community to remain healthy, it’s imperative that we care enough for each other to confront wrong when we see it. As elders, there have been only a small number of times over the years when we’ve needed to approach someone with a stance of discipline or correction. Most often, it’s been with a posture of wanting to know what is going on, how we can help, and occasionally with warning about something potentially harmful to the person being approached or those around them.
We encourage the community to be courageous enough to speak directly to one another in love when there are concerns about something in someone else’s life. Should that not be received favorably, talk to one of the elders. In all things, look through the lens of love and caring for one another.