Whether or not you are a fan of Coach Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide football team, you have undoubtedly heard the mantra that has now become the watchword for Alabama football – it’s all about our process.
Many articles across the Internet seek to define “the Alabama process” but none can really flesh it out like Coach Saban can, as he has direct access to his players and invests much more time into them, allowing him to pour the process into each. And fan or not, everyone admits that he does so successfully.
A common misconception (and objection) to the process of biblical restoration my co-author Pete Tackett and I encounter is that restoration means being “soft on sin.” The fear among these is that in order to restore the broken and fallen, we advocate overlooking sin, excusing sin, condoning sin, or otherwise not dealing with any sin involved in the person’s downfall.
Frankly, I wish these people were as conscious of their own sin as they want to seem to be about the sins of others.
Is the Issue Really About Sin?
Is the real issue causing churches and individuals to shy away from the biblical process of restoration about letting someone “get away with” sin? Or is it simply a matter of wanting to appear righteous and resolute before other people? Without “standing against sin,” we appear weak, liberal, and ungodly to others. This may be especially true when there are people within your church who have been damaged by the sinful actions of someone else.
In the name of appearing holy, we actually neglect obedience.
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” Galatians 6:1 ESV
As we explain in the first section of reCLAIMing – A Handbook for Developing a Restorative Culture in Your Church, there is a biblical command here to be obeyed by the local church. To not obey a known command is deliberate disobedience. So, who is really concerned about sin?
Restoration Has a Process
Those with a genuine desire to learn more about restoration will discover that just like The Crimson Tide, there is a process involved. And that process does not shy away from dealing with sin. Without giving away too much from the book, let me share some information that may seem surprising to those worried about being “soft on sin.”
- “Restoration is not about making things like they used to be, even in personal relationships. Restoration, instead, is a process by which bridges can be built between the broken/failed leader or member and his significant relationships that have been adversely affected by the event or problem.” (Chapter 6, page 71)
- “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, page 71 emphasis mine)
- “However, letting someone get by with a failure without walking through a process to protect them from future failure is not forgiveness, it is license to do it again.” (Chapter 6, page 75)
- “Restoration is not a promise to put everything back as it was before. It is not a promise to put the offender back in a position of leadership in the church where he or she failed. In fact, it is not a promise that they will ever be back in a position of leadership in a local church.” (Chapter 6, page 77).
As you can see, the restoration ministry we advocate in the reCLAIMing book is not “soft on sin,” but rather, includes a process for dealing with sin.
Trusting the Process
As with Coach Nick Saban’s football teams, there must be trust in the process. The entire third section of the reCLAIMing book outlines a process for restoring the broken/fallen under the guidance of a mature team of believers, and under the authority of the local church. Reading the book will bring home just how difficult this process can be for the broken/fallen leader. Not every leader will be willing to succumb to its demands and the oversight of a team.
The demands are stringent because restoration requires it. Our focus in restoration ministry is to restore the person back to spiritual wholeness first and foremost; with their Heavenly Father and then with His church and other believers. That will look different in every situation – but the process leading there is basically the same. It always includes dealing with known sin.
Before you object to biblical restoration out of fear for being “soft on sin,” examine your own heart and motivations. Section Two of the book deals with cultivating the necessary culture within the church in order for restoration to take place. That begins in hearts – individual hearts. If you object to restoration out of fear of being “soft on sin,” take some time and really examine your own heart. Is that really what you fear? Or are you more worried about appearances before others? Does what they think about you matter more than your personal obedience to your Heavenly Father?
I encourage everyone to set aside all objections and simply read the book with an open mind seeking God’s will. Not every church will be able to undertake restoration ministry. Not every person will likely agree. But what about you? Is restoration ministry something God has in store for you in serving His Kingdom purposes?
Contact Pastor Pete Tackett or myself for more information. We encourage you first to purchase and read the book to get the full explanation of restoration ministry, including real-life examples of how it happens through Antioch Baptist Church where Pastor Pete serves an incredible group of restoration-focused believers.