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Study: Majority of Pastors Do Not Discipline Church Members

Study: Majority of Pastors Do Not Discipline Church Members

The majority of pastors say in a new survey that they have never disciplined a church member.

According to Lifeway Research’s new poll, which surveyed some 1,000 pastors ministers and priests, about 55 percent said they have not “formally disciplined” a church member.

The poll also said that only 8 percent of those surveyed said a church member had been disciplined in the last year. About 20 percent said it had been at least three years since a member had been disciplined.

Nearly 20 percent said the church does not have “official policies” for disciplining church members.

“It’s one of the topics that churches rarely talk about,” said Scott McConnell, executive director at Lifeway.

The poll also said that churches were attendance was more than 100 people were more likely to have disciplined church members in the past year than churches with less than 100 people in attendance.

Sixty-five percent of pastors said they both had fewer than 50 members in the church and no member had been disciplined while they had served as head of the church.

With churches of attendance less than 100, 63 percent said the same: no disciplinary action for church members. In churches with attendance more than 100 people, 48 percent said the same.

The poll also found that evangelical pastors were more likely than other pastors to say their churches had disciplined members within the past year.

"There's some red tape involved for churches," McConnell said. "It is not easy to be kicked out of a church.”

Other findings of the poll included:

  • 29 percent of Pentecostal pastors say church members had been disciplined in past year.
  • 19 percent of Baptist pastors said the same. That number was 4 percent for Methodist pastors and 9 percent for Presbyterian pastors.
  • 85 percent of Methodist pastors said a member had not been formally disciplined since the pastor had been in the role or prior.
  • 37 percent of Methodist pastors said they had no official policies in place for discipline.
  • 15 percent of evangelical pastors said the same.


Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/Gutzemberg

Publication date: April 10, 2018