I’ve been doing a lot of restoration work in sin contexts with leaders, marriages, and all sorts of situations. As I’ve tried to think of it biblically, I’m trying to put it in steps:

1. Confession: talk about what happened, taking full responsibility for what I have done. Others will need to help in getting that straight. When the problem involves deception, getting confirmation from other people or a polygraph may be essential. The confession cannot involve manipulative phrases like “I’m sorry” or “Please forgive me.” That comes later, but at this stage, the others are under heavy pressure to say “It’s OK.”

2. Repentance: this is change of values, not just behavior. Think of Jimmy Swaggart weeping away in front of the world and then going right back to his trash.

3. Redemption: come out of the bad place. That place might be emotional, social, spiritual or physical. It may involve counselors or physicians or pastors to help with the movement.

4. Restitution: this may be monetary, confession/apology to others, clearing the name of someone who has been slandared, etc.

5. Reconciliation: clearing up the relational damage done by the sin. Normal relationships with trust and openness cannot happen until this occurs.

6. Restoration: this will be through several levels with any kind of leadership occuring only after the trust has been restored. 1 Timothy 5:19-22 is a great passage. Don’t be too quick to entertain either accusation or restoration.

One must NEVER do step 6 before going through the other steps. So often the sinner is really only interested in what minimal steps need to be taken to get back into the place of leadership (see Saul in 1 Samuel 15). There is no basic change. Work through the steps deliberately and carefully.

I’m interested in any suggestions on this process.