Lessons Learned: Being Banned From Church

January 29, 2008 by

The article “Banned from church” appeared on the front page of the “Weekend Journal” section of a recent Wall Street Journal. The piece is about churches that are reviving the “ancient” practice of shunning, or expelling members who are believed to be in deliberate conflict with the laws and leadership of their local church.

While I take issue with the story’s tone that suggests that the church is more intimidating than inviting, when I looked more closely, I also found some useful lessons for becoming a more effective communicator for Christ:

Trying to keep people out of church will always win us more publicity than trying to invite people in to church. Accept the fact that church marketing that matters is going to be challenging, creative and often invisible work.

If, as church leaders, we would shift our focus to “enthusiastically engaging” from “strictly enforcing,” then people might believe that the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ is real.

A church’s most effective information source is its congregation; be it good news or gossip, they spread the word. Whatever techniques and technology we employ should empower them, not frustrate. Our members are our most valuable marketing partners.

Here’s to hoping that we’ll do more sharing than shunning! If nothing else, it will lead to better coverage in the popular press, the pages read by both believers and seekers.

Post By:

Brian Gaffney

Brian A. Gaffney is the expectant father of FourWord Thinking Marketing and Communications, Inc., a Christian communications consultancy that he was called to start after working in corporate consumer marketing for a decade. He and his wife, Kym, live in Brooklyn, N.Y., and attend Emmanuel Baptist Church, where he is an ordained deacon.
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11 Responses to “Lessons Learned: Being Banned From Church”

  • A.B. Dada
    January 29, 2008

    Being banned from my first church at the age of 16 was the best thing that ever happened to me (being banned for music I listened to!). Considering the congregation failed about 6 months later, I saved myself a world of hurt and found a better congregation. Sadly, I moved away and lost contact with that congregation over time.
    Then in my 20s, I was banned again from a church because of some of the books I read. This time it was a bit more painful, but that was also a great experience since I started to see how sick the church was inside and out. The path I took from church to church for the next decade was prefaced with “I read these books” to the pastors, at which point some pastors told me I wasn’t welcome, while others said they didn’t care but I couldn’t discuss the books or leave them in my car when I parked there. Again, a great experience, because it brought me to see that the churches in my community were either sickly, or confused.
    Now I have a great church that has nothing to do with my beliefs or denomination, but is a loving church that actively helps the flock and those outside the flock. That’s all I wanted — love, not judgment. It took two bannings, two excommunications, and dozens of really sick assemblies before I realized why I love church.
    I agree, we need to stop with the shunnings, at least on the catastrophic scale that’s growing. Many of those folks don’t come back at all. Yet if you’re open to understanding WHY you were shunned, you may see the problem correlates with your own actions towards others, or it might just be that you were part of a disgusting example of Christianity that is slowly killing the one true faith.

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  • Jermayn Parker
    January 29, 2008

    I have also been ‘banned’ and like Dada, now am glad it happened!
    The problem I see with banning is that it should be up to the church and not just one man! The problem with one man banning someone is that his personal opinion usually comes to the forefront instead of Gods view and opinion. We are just men after all….
    I dont have a problem with banning someone (for a period) for discipline reasons if the person is followed up and continued to be discipled by the church BUT leaving them to their own is WRONG! They are the churches/ pastors responsibility and until they go to another church, they should ALWAYS be followed up.

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  • Dan B.
    February 1, 2008

    Church discipline is a good thing and too few churches exercise or are even equipped to exercise it. It’s important to remember two points, I think. One is that discipline is exercised for the good of the person being disciplined. The object is to point out the seriousness of the offense and hope the person will come to his senses and be restored. The second point is relevant to the concept of marketing because it speaks to the community at large. An adulterer, blasphemer, town drunk and chronic gossiper who is seen as a member of your church, especially if he happens to be an elder or other leader, hurts the image your church has in the community. Calling the person on his actions tells the community you mean business about being agents for God-change.

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  • Tracie
    February 2, 2008

    I agree with Jermayn. It’s an issue similar to spanking: It gets a bad rap, but if it’s performed as loving discipline instead of angry retribution or face-saving, it works.

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  • Dan
    February 5, 2008

    I was banned, not from a church, but from a ministry that I was one of the founding members of. Because of a disagreement with the pastor I was banned from helping to feed the underprivileged children in the churches surrounding neighborhood. Within that year the church lost the majority of its children’s and youth pastors. Very sad. I am happy to say that I am now at a great church.

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  • Goat
    February 6, 2008

    I don’t see how banning the town drunk from church is a good idea. It might give the church a bad image. An image of sinners. It’s an addiction and a tough thing to kick. The church should be a refuge for addicts. Not fixed people. I’m of the opinion that if they want to be there, find a place for them.

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  • Mark Hardy
    March 4, 2008

    “An adulterer, blasphemer, town drunk and chronic gossiper who is seen as a member of your church, especially if he happens to be an elder or other leader, hurts the image your church has in the community.”
    As far as I can see, these don’t necessarily need to be dealt with by forcing the person to leave the church. In fact, I don’t think that it would help at all.
    But if the person concerned is an elder, then the Bible speaks very clearly about that.
    That doesn’t mean that the elder would have to leave the church, but if they demonstrated this kind of behaviour habitually, then I would ask why the church still has them in a position of authority.

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  • Blake
    April 17, 2008

    The Bible pretty clearly lays out the path of excommunication for us. Jeremy succinctly put forth two of the reasons for it, but the methods are laid out for us in Scripture.
    first of all, its only for members. If a drunken individual wants to attend church he should be welcomed. If a member of the church falls into alcoholism and the sin of being drunk, then that member needs to have his sin dealt with. If after a time of counseling and prayerful intervention by a church’s authority (elders, pastors, etc) and that member shows no sign of repentance, then censorship or excommunication should be followed.

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  • Justin
    November 13, 2013

    It was years ago but then pain effected us for a long time

    In Short
    We had attended for about 3 years and were plugged in small groups home groups and service raising our new baby in Church.
    Well we felt through lots of prayer that the Lord was calling us to move to Ireland and become missionaries
    So we asked the church if they were interested in offering prayer for us and if they felt led to donate to our cause
    In which one of the bishops said no they were not interested.We were confused and hurt but still pressed the Lord in prayer on this decision.We had met many people in the church by then and i felt the need to ask the other members for the same prayer and if they felt like donating to our cause
    Came home one day and my wife was on the couch crying .When she finally was able to talk she said the church called and we re no longer welcome at the church and if we set foot on the property we would be escorted by security.
    What a blow and we lost faith and many other things since that day.Years later i still remember the pain we went through.

    Thank you for posting your story May the Lord richly bless and keep you in His service

    In Christ

    Brandi and Justin Chester

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  • Annette Everson
    November 30, 2015

    I am from England, after a problem with one of the congregation, (I felt bullied and intimidated) I then went through their process of reporting it. They weren’t interested in solving it and after getting no where I went public. I banned, and was shunned. then tried to talk to the pastor and all he could think about was his church. I had to publically apologise for speaking the truth. After being told I was part of a loving family, this proved to be untrue. I am still banned, Now I don’t trust churches, even though my faith is still strong in the lord. Churches in my opinion like to do things in secret and are not open when problems arise. They certainly don’t like to be criticised, especially in public. I have learned a very important lesson, even though it has been a deeply hurtful experiencel

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  • Rene
    July 5, 2016

    Well here is our situation , last Friday our disable child was kick out from our church because she was clapping at the service , the pastor (woman) got so delirious that gave orders for her to be escorted out the church , we would like really to set a precedent in this church , apparently is a customary behavior from these pastors at this particular church , we would welcome any suggestions we don’t know where to go from here , we know a little bit about ADA but apparently this law it is not applicable to churches, or religious groups .



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