No. 32. >> Maybe my memory is failing me. But I think I've heard the phrase minor ban used in connection with church discipline. What exactly is it? And should I be doing it here in my Wyoming congregation? >>DR. JOEL D. BIERMANN: All right, Joshua. If excommunication is the major ban and that's kind of the term that was used sometimes in the Middle Ages and into the Reformation Period, the minor ban was the practice of asking the individual not to commune, not to participate in the celebration of the sacrament because of their refusal to repent, which is actually very scriptural, very confessional. That one of the marks of being a worthy recipient of the sacrament is having a repentant spirit. Recognizing you're failing. Recognizing your brokenness and wanting to be forgiven. Wanting to do better. So the person who is not repentant for whatever the sin might be, that person really is not a worthy recipient of the sacrament. We learned about that back in Catechism class. So when you as the pastor, perhaps you're counselling somebody, perhaps you're confronting them because of some situation you're aware of, and they tell you: Pastor, this is none of your business. You can take a flying leap. I don't want to repent. Let's get a concrete scenario. Say you have an individual who has moved in with a woman. Who has been living with her. They are cohabitating. You heard about this and you're talking to this man. You say: Are you doing this? He says: Yeah, I'm doing this. And you say: What do you think God's will is about this? He says: Well, I suppose God doesn't like it. You tell him: I agree. He doesn't. You need to change this. And then he responds with: No, I'm not going to change. I like her. And I believe God forgives me. It's no big deal. Well, now you have a problem on your hands. Because he has set himself outside of the will of God for this situation. And now you've got to try to deal with it. So I think you would start with the minor ban is you tell him: You know what? Your choice is putting you outside of the will of God. It's putting you outside of the practice of this congregation. You really cannot participate in the celebrations of this church. You really should not be receiving the Lord's Supper until we can get this thing right. And you have the authority as a pastor to do that. Now, when you do that you should announce it to your elders and let them know this is going on. And you shouldn't use this as a kind of a tool or as a club to beat people into submission into doing things your way. You don't put people under the minor ban because they don't like your worship practice for example. That's inappropriate. But there is a place for this in the practice of good, loving shepherding. Caring for people. Helping them to see the gravity of their mistakes. You don't do this arbitrarily. Big issues. Big concrete obvious sins where the person is putting themself outside of God's will. Then there's a place for this. And if the minor ban is being properly handled, the person will do one of two things. Either he will repent and you'll be able to invite him back to the Lord's Supper. Or he will continue to drag his feet and fight against it. And eventually you might end up leading to excommunication or having to put him outside the fellowship. That might eventuate. But that's going to be a down the road sort of a thing. So that's what the minor ban means. And again, excommunication might look kind of harsh and nasty. But my experience is when it's done properly with the right attitude, it's a very loving thing. And I have even in my own personal experience seen tremendous results come from excommunication. It's always a hard thing when it happens. But to see a person actually come back to repentance and share with the congregation their brokenness and their gratitude to that congregation for taking seriously their sin and loving them enough to challenge them, that's a remarkable thing. And that really is encouraging to see how the Holy Spirit can work even through such a difficult thing as a church discipline in excommunication.