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Restoration in a Transformational Community 16: It Takes a Community to Restore

The man that I was visiting was a broken one. He had had it all—loving wife, talented children, respect from young people who were learning from him at a school where he taught and a prestigious leadership position in a significant church. Until the day he hit the front page after being arrested for a crime. He was fired from both jobs. He had been sitting alone at home, wondering if his wife would leave him, wondering if his children would ever speak to him again, wondering if anyone would ever employ him again, wondering if God had turned His back for good on him. Some of his friends had coaxed him to attend one of our services and by the next day, I was at his home asking him if he wanted to get well. He did want that, and though I had known him for little more than a day, I set my sights on seeing him restored in his walk with God and with his wife and children.

We are not the Messiah when it comes to people being caught in sin. But we are their community. What I have learned is that restoration is not a one man band project. You need a team of people who know the person caught in sin and are willing to make the time to walk with that person through the process.

Knowing that it takes a community to restore, I always start with forming a team to walk through the process alongside the person, based on their maturity, gentleness and on their ability to hold confidences. They need to be safe, full of wisdom and the Spirit and willing to meet regularly with the person to be restored, possibly once a week for up to a year. In addition, team members have to be able to handle the confrontation and anger that comes with this ministry. This process is not for the half-hearted. It demands a robust commitment, as well as compassion for the person being restored. Anyone who displays a judgmental attitude should not be asked to serve.

I have found that experience is not a requirement. Love for Jesus and his church are. At the time of working with this man, my church was pretty young, so I did not have a huge selection of believers experienced in restoration. Two of the men I asked were pretty apprehensive because they had never done anything like this before, but they knew how to love. This process caused them to grow up more in their walk with God.

Though I led this team, I want you to know that I was not so much the leader as the trainer. I had experience in restoration, but the rest had little to none. I was preparing them for the time when they themselves would lead such a team. Please recognize that restoration is a spiritual practice not just for a pastor, but for all believers. When your church is just starting out practicing restoration, your goal is to raise up many who will be willing and able to restore others.

Steve Smith