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Restoration in a Transformational Community 24: Why Restoration Matters

I have had a hand in a number of people’s stories. A classmate restored to his wife and kids spent a decade as a hospital orderly post spiritual crisis. One day, the hospital’s administer invited him to his office and asked him to become the chaplain to the patients, noting his voluntary spiritual care for them made him an easy choice.

Another spent a year with a team exploring why her life choices had led to divorce, as well as other missteps along the way. She later initiated a spiritual transformational culture in a church, training people how to pursue intimacy with God so they would be healed from hurt in their heart and delivered from deadly sin choices.

Then there was the guy who did all he could to blow up his life and church by his destructive choices. Today he has a solid marriage, respect from people whose lives he is investing in. He has taken on ministry to one of the rough areas in town, knowing that he has something to offer from his own journey back.

Why restoration matters in the transformational church is that, while there may be runaways, we should never believe there are throwaways. A restoration process is the norm, not the exception, because one person is just as important to Jesus as the ninety-nine. Restoration is not just a rescue; it is about seeing someone who was caught in sin living whole and holy again—returned to his or her calling of being a witness of the grace and mercy of God.

As you can see from the above rest-of-the-stories, restoration has an impact that goes beyond the process. The team that worked with one person spent over eighteen months meeting regularly with him. We walked with him as he pursued renewal in his marriage, as he sought to be reconciled with his former employers and as he took temporary work in another area to pay bills (he had us write a letter to the pastor of the church he attended to let that pastor know of the process). We saw a man changed from the inside by the power of the Spirit. Our congregation was spiritually charged by the changes they saw happening in him. But just as important, he was in a place of being used by God again in the lives of others.

Restoration is at the heart of the gospel. Restoration is part of the message a healthy church announces into the community it is seeking to sow the gospel—that no matter how badly someone messes up, he or she is still family and we are ready to guide that person back to a healthy walk with God among us. Remember, Peter would not have been there on the day of Pentecost if this was not true.

Steve Smith