C hu r ch Ac t ions 57 Church discipline is available to an adult baptized believer who wishes to undertake a time of repentance in order to be reconciled to God and the church. It is a time of silent reflection when the person concerned steps back from full participation in the common life. Through silence, one gains freedom from everyday concerns so that the heart can become quiet. It is a chance to cleanse one’s conscience of all that burdens it and to stand before God. Throughout such a time, the church community shows its redoubled love to those in discipline, caring for their practical needs with special consideration and keeping them constantly in its prayers. We each stand with them in our need of God’s judgment and forgiveness. Understood rightly, church discipline is a grace, a sign of God’s mercy, and an act of hope. In our church community, the gift of discipline is granted only to those who desire and request it. It is not a punishment and has nothing in common with shunning, expulsion, or any kind of coercion; to abuse it for any such purpose is a sin. Rather, members who undertake a time of disci- pline remain our brothers and sisters and continue to be members in good standing.* In seeking repentance, they do a service for Christ and his kingdom. * By contrast, an unrepentant person who rejects the help of the church community while persisting in sin cannot be granted church discipline. In such a case, according to Christ’s instructions in Matthew 18, the church community may ultimately need to separate ways from the one concerned; for a member, this results in loss of membership in good standing (see Section 45). Such separation is not a form of church discipline, but merely an acknowledgment by the church community that continued fellowship is impossible. The church ­ community will continue to pray for the person in the constant hope for reconciliation. Pss 62:1–2; 131 Joel 2:12–13; Ezek 36:25–27 Luke 15:22–24; Gal 6:9–10 Luke 18:9–14; 1 Pet 5:5–7 Heb 12:3–13 2 Thess 3:15 Rev 2—3