It is important that the congregation submit to the leadership of the elders throughout the discipline process, and that they know how to treat an individual who has been put out of the church. If the individual members of the church do not practically support the leadership, or if they unwittingly undermine the discipline process then the unrepentant individual could be even more emboldened in his sin.
It is during the third step of the discipline process that the entire congregation must become active in ministering to their unrepentant brother. At this stage the entire congregation must make every effort to confront the individual of his sin, and plead with them to repent and return to the full fellowship of the church. Calls, visits, emails, cards, and letters are all appropriate ways to communicate with the disciplined brother. In this communication the individuals should be treated as a fellow believer who’s unrepentant sin has placed him in grave spiritual danger. He is in need of firm warning, rebuke, and correction.
If the efforts of the church during the third stage of discipline prove unsuccessful in bringing the disciplined individual to repentance, then the fourth step must be carried out by the elders of the church. At this stage the congregation must treat the disciplined individual differently.
- The congregation must treat this individual as an individual who has rejected the Gospel. (Matthew 18:17) He is not to be viewed as simply an unbeliever, but rather an unbeliever who is dangerous to the church (Jude 23b)
- The congregation must withhold fellowship with such an individual (1 Cor 5:9-13). They are not to violate scripture by being unloving, but they must love this individual at a distance.
- The congregation, when contact is made, has a responsibility not to avoid the issue of discipline, but rather to call this individual to repentance.
- The congregations must show love to this individual by not gossiping about the discipline, having an attitude of forgiveness toward this individual, and in some cases actively loving his family members who have remained in the congregation.