40 Questions About Church Membership and Discipline

40 Questions about Church MembershipDo you think a need or mandate for Church Membership and Discipline in the Bible? And if there is, what does it look like? Those are the questions that 40 Questions About Church Membership and Discipline examines in this volume.

The book is written by Jeremy M. Kimble, PhD. Kimble is an assistant professor of theology at Cedarville College. It is another contribution to the series “40 Questions About …” You can find the complete list at Kregel Publications. I have a review of a previous volume, 40 Questions About Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, here.

The author digs deep into the subject matter – often very deep. The volume contains an abundance of footnotes which you may or may not find helpful. In all frankness I quite often felt like I was reading a topical commentary. The majority of the contents is more theologically oriented than practical in scope.

The book opens with four general questions about church membership and discipline and then deals with the two subject areas separately. There are two concluding questions pertaining to the subject matter.

Kimble’s examination of church membership is thorough although, once again, heavily laden with theology. I found chapter 8 on the history of church membership most informative. It lays a solid foundation for the need and obligation for every believer to be an active member of a local church. The practical questions on church membership are applicable but perhaps not under the heading of practical. Nevertheless, they should be considered.

In the area of church discipline the author’s contention is that discipline within the church is severely lacking. He lays out his case in a section on “Theological Questions” in which he exegetes OT church discipline from Matthew 18, 1 Corinthians 5, and several shorter NT passages. He concludes this section with a historical rundown of church discipline. Unfortunately, the practical section does not contain enough down-to-earth information although, admittedly, it is not totally lacking. My preference would have been for more.

Even though the book relies heavily on theology, it is a highly useful volume. Pastors and elders will find that this book will serve them well as a handbook in these critical church subject areas.

Disclaimer: This book was provided to me by Kregel Publications for a fair, honest and balanced review.

Pastoral Theology

There is an abundance of “Pastor” books. Pastoral instruction began way back in the first century when an author named Paul presented some pastoral instruction in letter form to two young pastors named Timothy and Titus. These letters, by the way, remain to this day the absolute best in their subject category.Pastoral Theology

Virtually all, if not totally all, pastoral instruction books on the market today contain a “how-to” operate in the pastorate. However, with this volume Pastoral Theology: Theological Foundations for Who a Pastor is and What He Does, the authors attempt to take a different approach. Found in the “Introduction” is the reason for the book: “While many pastoral ministry books focus on the pragmatic how-to of pastoral ministry, rarely to they address the why of pastoral ministry.”

The authors are Daniel L. Akin (preaching and theology professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) and R. Scott Pace (Reverend A.E. and Dora Johnson Hughes Chair of Christian Ministry Associate Professor of Applied Ministry).

The title of the book is a direct indication of the contents with a heavy emphasis on theology. If a pastor needs a quick review of Trinitarian theology, go to Section One. If a pastor is weak on Anthropology, Ecclesiology or Missiology go to Section Two. If you want the heart of the book, go to Section Three: Practical Facilitation.

A couple of further thoughts – the first on structure: As I read this volume I came to the conclusion that it was well outlined before the actual text was written. There is a multitude of first, second and third lists. It is almost as if the contents had originally been presented as a series of sermons or as classroom instruction. It would be easy to reverse the process to produce a somewhat concise outline of the entire book.

The second on the stated goal: The authors have definitely achieved their indicated goal. There is a minimum of practical advice and counseling and all of that can be found at the end of each chapter under the heading of “Pastoral Principles.”

This book is strictly for pastors or aspiring pastors. If you need a quick, concise and straightforward review of some basic theology, this is an excellent volume. Undoubtedly this would make a worthwhile textbook for a class on pastoral ministry.

Disclaimer: This volume was provided to me by B&H Academic for a fair and honest review.