Restoration in a Transformational Community 18: First We Need Stability
The restoration process has four phases through which your team is to guide the person. There is no timetable for these phases. As you work with the person, you will be able to sense when you are moving from one phase to the next. Sometimes you may find yourselves working in more than one phase simultaneously. Do not be alarmed. The restoration process does not always follow a straight line.
The first phase in the restoration process is stability. This is the first guidance task of the team. It is during this phase that the person must make numerous decisions about his or her life—whether the sin issue affects the church, job, marriage, living arrangements, etc. A person will hesitate to move forward if he or she feels unsafe, so focus on bringing the person to a level of stability in life.
Do they need a job? Housing? A lawyer? Are they under court order to stay away from family? Have they initiated actions that will bring them or others grief? Those engaged in restoring the person must address whatever issues that distract him or her now so that attention can be drawn to the sin itself. This phase may be shorter for the person who has resources and maybe non-existent for the one whose sin has not caused him or her the least amount of discomfort—yet.
Do you know why your involvement in this phase matters? It is your statement of deep commitment to stand with a person at the worst moments of his or her life. To accept harsh words from people who are unhappy that anyone cares to help this ‘jerk!’ To identify with the person who has betrayed others, especially God and say he or she is still family. Perhaps to be lumped together with the person in the misdeed. I have experienced all of these responses.
Sin causes so much hurt in others. Do not go into this phase unaware. But be firm in your guidance. Do not let the person seek to lessen the blow by running away or giving up. Give direct advice when asked, but do not take over making choices that the person alone must determine. It is a delicate part of the process, but guiding the person caught in sin towards stability will prepare for the next phase, which is repentance and confession.