Frequently Asked Questions
You have questions, and we want to provide answers. Some of the most commonly asked questions we encounter are below. Some will point you to a resource, while others may require a more personalized answer. At the bottom, you can submit your own questions to us
Visit our blog post here to read a longer answer, but anecdotally, we say in the re.CLAIM.ing book that when you take your auto to a mechanic to rebuild the engine, the mechanic does not get to tell you what you can and cannot do with the vehicle thereafter. Why? Because he is not the owner. YOU are! Likewise, the work of restoration is about building new bridges and processes in someone’s life to help them overcome the brokenness of the past and have hope for usefulness in the church. At the end of the process, there are no guarantees; but there are no roadblocks, either. The restoration team is like a mechanic. They just do the work and let the owner (God) decide how the restoree will be used in the future.
Restoration is for both clergy and lay leaders in the church and the need comes in all shapes and flavors. In the re.CLAIM.ing book, we talk about several groups of people who could use a church whose bent is toward restorative ministry.
- The Spiritually Defeated – those who have lived through a church conflict or leadership struggle and they are just done. They want nothing to do with the church.
- The Spiritually Retreated – churches love these people. They never say no, love to serve, and will always be the last man or woman standing. At some point, they can’t go or do anymore and have lost the will to singlehandedly prop up a dying ministry. The next thing you know, leadership looks around and they are nowhere to be found.
- The Spiritually Depleted – suffer from a lack of nourishment. They are too busy giving out to take anything in. Numbers of small church, single staff pastors fall in this category. They know if it is to be done, they have to do it themselves and they burn out or flame out. Unfortunately, they are the ones you read about who had an affair, left their family, or other implosions. It did not happen because of a besetting sin but because they were willing to give more than they had to give – and a church was willing to let them.
There are many others, and some of their stories are covered in the book.
Restoration is a process by which bridges can be built between the broken/failed leader or member and his or her significant relationships that have been adversely affected by the event or problem. It is about building bridges between a defeated brother or sister and the loving heavenly Father whom they may feel they have let down. Depending on their theology, they may feel God is mad at them or punishing them. It is about building bridges between the restoree’s past and his or her future usefulness to the Kingdom. Restoration offers a safe venue where sins can be revealed, acknowledged, and repented from, and sincere apologies and amends can be made at the appropriate time. Chapter 6 in re.CLAIM.ing goes into detail about what restoration is and is not, both from personal experience and a Biblical foundation.
We talk a great deal throughout the book about what is possible and what is not, but every situation is different. Also, the question is a little misleading. Many times, when people ask the question, they really want to know if the person must leave their position to go through restoration. We wrote the book to address some of these issues and the only way to get a solid answer is to read it, but here are a few observations.
- Anything is possible with God.
- Things seem a lot less possible with humans in charge. From personal experience (Pete), my restoration took place within the church I was pastoring while I was spinning out of control. Yet, the team decided it was not wise for me to attend there, as the church had much healing to do and having me there might have interfered with it.
- The only way to decide that is to ascertain who the stakeholders are, who has been hurt and how badly, and how keeping that person around initially would further injure them.
We do not believe a person can stay in a leadership role in the church where they offended or failed during the restoration process.
In the re.CLAIM.ing book, we acknowledge this is far over our pay grade. Most states have laws that preclude sexual offenders from being where children are without very strict guidelines. However, it is not only possible but also seemingly required of us by Galatians 6:1 to assist a brother or sister that has been overtaken in a sin, no matter how distasteful the sin. Remember that restoration is not putting a person back in a place to re-offend but helping them build bridges into new relationships with those who they have hurt and build structure into their life to keep from having another earthquake. Thus, it is possible for a team to walk with a sexual offender as he settles into a new normal, providing spiritual guidance and accountability. If we don’t, the only option is for him to spend all his time around other sex offenders.
Church leaders should know how much to push in this area. If most want to be a place of healing and a few old knot heads that are opposed to everything oppose this, too, it might be time to stand up to them. You not only have to take into account how that might affect the one being restored, but how does it affect the culture of the church.
In the re.CLAIM.ing book, we invest an entire chapter on restoration being a kingdom concept. There are things you can’t do and people you can’t help, but if you build a restorative culture and partner with other churches to do the same, you can become a safe haven for their broken while they become a safe haven for yours.
The easiest and simplest way is to be proactive. When you hear a colleague has been fired with or without cause, be like the church that welcomed Pete after his resignation. He recounts in the re.CLAIM.ing book how Pastor Rick White reached out to him and welcomed him as a friend. Resist the tendency to say to the hurting one, “Call me if you need me,” and then go about your business. Put it on your calendar to call them. Ask specific questions about where they are going to church and where they are getting help. Offer them an anonymous place to sit and worship and heal. Then, when the time comes, invite them to enter into a process. In addition to personal restorative ministry, you would be wise to preach on restoration, bring in someone who works in that area to speak about the need, and talk more deeply with your church leadership.
Successful restorative ministry celebrates when one who has been completely sidelined and is distant from the significant relationships of his or her life is once again using their spiritual gifts and vitally engaged with family and friends. The restoree may not be in a paid or official church role, but he or she will be functioning as God made them to function in the body of Christ. It is not putting everything about their former relationships back the way they were, but instead, helping them to form new healthy connections with their significant relationships moving ahead.
Everyone reading this knows you have to choose your battles. All of us are told to restore those who have been overtaken in a fault. Your church has no choice if one of your members or staff falls but to help them get back up. If there are people that oppose that, it is a hill worth dying on. Yet, not everyone is called to be focused on restorative ministry as we are. You have to decide for yourself if that is where you want to draw the battle line with people who seem to always be the cold-water committee when it comes to new and innovative work in the church. If God leads you to it, He will lead you through it.
If you still have questions, we recommend reading re.CLAIM.ing. This is not an effort to sell more books. In the book, we cover many other potential situations and scenarios and provide practical guidance on cultivating a restorative culture, building a restoration ministry, and more. You will discover the answers to many of your questions.
If you still have questions and want more help, we would be pleased if you reached out to us for a personal contact. Email us at connect@Reclaimingbook.com