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Restoration in a Transformational Community 21: Crossing the Health Bridge 

The fourth phase is rebuilding. It was on a Sunday morning months into the restoration process that we invited ‘David’ to help lead in worship. This was no sudden decision, no letting down of our guard. We knew from walking with him that pride was one of the root issues in his life. And there was no worse place to inflate an unhealthy ego than putting someone on the platform. But we had been praying and thinking after the idea was brought up by one of the members of the restoration team. Was it time to take another step toward health?

At that point, we asked his wife what she thought. (Always ask the spouse how they feel about taking this step. It is one of the best indicators that you are making the right steps at the right time.) She, who had been deeply wounded by her husband’s sin, believed he was ready for this step. And this proved to be true. More than being true, it was a demonstration to the man and the congregation about the grace and mercy of God to restore and use broken people. For the record, I know that broken people being transformed by the Spirit are all whom God has to use anyway!

At some point, your team will discern that the person caught in sin is in a safe place. By safe I mean that he or she is walking in intimacy with God, has experienced renewal in their family life and is displaying humility within the congregation. The sin no longer defines their lives. Jesus does. This is about this person becoming safe so as not to fall back into being caught in sin.

An important responsibility the team has in this phase is to be the conduit through which the now repentant believer communicates to the church body. He or she must agree to submit to the decision of the team before offering service within the church, whether to his or her home congregation or in some other fellowship or mission. In other words, before the person can take the next step, he or she will confer with the team, who—if they are in agreement that this is right action—will speak to the church leaders on behalf of the person. This allows all people involved to be part of the decision-making process and does not place the burden on one person. This also discourages an ‘end run’ around the team, allowing no one team member to be able to either block the process or trump it to the detriment of the person in the restoration process.

Since there is no timeline for this moment, you will need the Spirit to confirm this within the team. Yet, when that point comes, you need to move forward without fear or hesitation. How this person will reemerge into his or her place in the Kingdom is the issue the team will explore with him or her. This is not about church attendance or belonging to a fellowship, but about trust and service. No one, no matter how badly they have failed, is put on the shelf forever in Jesus’ Kingdom if they seek restoration.

Steve Smith