When a Christian brother ( small group leader, deacons, elders) falls, the local church leadership goes through a long process of trying to restore a brother in the faith. So whether it is sexual in nature or financial or addiction – it doesn’t matter – we try to love them back to the fold. That is what Scripture tells us – restore our fallen brothers and sisters in the faith.
Galatians 6:1-3 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. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something,when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
The restoration process includes personal ministry, pastoral counseling and getting some personal time with the Lord. We do have a handful in church who are going through the same process as of the present with the goal of restoring back their marriages, sexual purity, integrity, trust and their walk with God.
Ministry involvement? You might ask how about their ministry? I always say this about restoration and ministry – MINISTRY will always be there but your marriage, your faith – that is the main issue that you want to focus on not ministry. Ministry must be an extension of your love for Jesus. So if your relationship with Jesus is not where it is supposed to be because of a sin that is eating you up – then stop doing your acts of ministry and get some ministry to be restored back.
The restoration process would depend a lot on the one who has fallen – how he will respond to correction, grace and discipline. To the pastors restoring a fallen brother/sister – remember always to move in God’s love and grace. The end goal is to restore – not to kick them out of church.
On the other hand, to the one who has fallen – humble yourselves and repent and acknowledge the sin and the damage that is done. Do not belittle your sin. Jesus died for it. Your response to God’s correction is crucial for your restoration.
How about those who are asked not to return to the church because of their sin?
There are rare cases when a brother/sister falls again and again and in the process victimizes people in the church and still deny the sins they have committed and refuse restoration
So what do we do? This is one of the hardest part of pastoring a fallen brother/sister.
Matthew 18:15-18 15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
The Scripture gives us 4 scenarios for correcting a brother/sister.
1. Talk to them privately about their sin.
If there is no sign of repentance
2. Talk to him/her with at least 2 or 3 witnesses. The reason for this is so that there will be credible testimony on how a brother or sister has responded when corrected and the church elders can make a sound biblical loving decision.
If there is still no sign of repentance
3. You have to tell it to the church. That means tell the people that needs to know and not yet announce to the whole congregation – just to people who matter ( those who are close friends and ministry partners of the involved brother/sister)
If there is still no repentance
4. The church needs to sever their relationship with the person involved and pray that they will be restored through other means.
The question is where is the love that we are supposed to be preaching? Well, it has been there along the way but the hardened heart of a fallen brother and sister cannot see and feel it because of the sin that he continues to embrace and live with.
You can’t help somebody who thinks he doesn’t need any help.
Most of those who have fallen away from the faith and are not repentant and open to correction would get back at the church and ask – WHERE IS THE LOVE?
The answer to those who continue to live in their sin and are unwilling to be restored – WHERE IS THE REPENTANCE?