#7 in Q & A Series
Question: How do you believe New Life Church could have handled your situation better?
“Begin with the End in Mind” is Habit #2 in Stephen Covey’s, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Just about every church in the nation has taught some version of this, if not used the text itself as a leadership guide. But when it comes to restoring another, most Christian restoration teams not only are confused about New Testament guidelines instructing them, but also about the purpose of the process. As a result, many, particularly leaders, who have been subject to restoration in a church find the process nonsensical and are left discouraged, despondent, and some so bitter they seethe.
Galatians 6:1 is the most relevant Scripture in the New Testament addressing the subject of restoring another.
“Brethren, if any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit] should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also” Gal. 6:1 AMP.
So what is the goal? Restoration. The Greek word in this verse is Katartizo, which means to re-set, restore, as we would a disjoined limb. It means to make perfect, to restore. Thus, the translators are correct when they use the English word, “restore,” in this verse. The New Living Translation and the Amplified are correct when they say, “help that person back onto the right path” or “set him right and restore and reinstate him.”
Carnal-thinking people punish, embarrass, dehumanize, and humiliate those they are commissioned to heal. Because they are untrained in the application of the Gospel in these situations, they make demands and design activities to occupy the fallen without a constructive end in mind. Paul strongly warns against this, and says genuine spirituality is displayed through gentleness and humility as it restores another. Otherwise, the “restorer” will take on an aura of spiritual and moral superiority and rationalize why the fallen cannot and should not be restored. Typically they say the fallen are unrepentant or unsubmissive. Then, they too often see themselves as more important than they are, which is specifically warned against in Galatians 6:2-3 where Paul concludes his thought regarding restoration: “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.”
Paul’s caution might be here because the self-righteous leader is unable to appreciate the power of the resurrection of the fallen, and will end up thinking of themselves as more important than they should in light of the sins of the fallen. This is one of the sins of the Pharisees.
Jimmy Swaggart endured his scandal in 1988. His denomination constructed a restoration program, which he rejected for reasons to which we may not be privy. Then he was caught yet again in a compromising situation in 1991. Since that time, as far as we know he’s been actively involved in ministry and has been faithful to his wife and to God. It’s interesting to me that so many Christians hate Jimmy Swaggart. When I ask pastors’ groups why they think so poorly of him and don’t trust him, they always say it’s because he didn’t go through his denomination’s restoration program. I then ask what the purpose of that program might have been? They always respond by saying that the purpose of the program was to heal Jimmy Swaggart, help him find the moral strength to overcome his sin problem, and help him return to ministry again. I then point out that the 1991 repeat was predictable and that virtually every therapist teaches that relapse is part of recovery, and that he has been faithful to his wife and ministry for 22 years since that relapse. My follow-up question to the pastors . . . “Is the purpose of the process the process itself, or the RESULT of the process?”
Then we talk about the real reason we question his integrity. Could it be that our real issue is that he did not cooperate with our program, which would have given us the ability to take credit for his sobriety and ministry? Were we more concerned about managing our image than restoring our brother? Did we elevate his submitting to our control over our helping him to achieve the goal of his repentance and to return to the ministry to which God had called him? Or did we really just want him out of ministry–either because we were envious of his accomplishments or embarrassed by his human failings? After all, ultimately we tend to manage our image and reputation. Perhaps we should ask ourselves if we are managing a Christ-like image and reputation or a worldly one based on self-righteousness.
The English word “restore” means to “bring back to a former, original, or normal condition. “ It means “to put back to a former place, or to a former position, rank, etc.” This is the correct interpretation of the word Paul used, Katartizo. So why would it benefit the church to follow through on his admonition to gently restore a fellow believer (even a leader) who has been trapped by a sin?
It is because it models resurrection, hope, redemption, and life.
The fallen give us opportunity to model Christ’s resurrection among us, and to demonstrate Christ’s heart toward humanity. Christ has restored all of us. When we, who are spiritual, competently model restoration among ourselves, others see the Gospel with clarity. We’ve got to give credit where credit is due. The Holy Spirit and the Word of God should get the credit for restoring leaders. We should not position ourselves to receive glory. Healing, sobriety, holiness, and integrity are the goals. God’s work moving forward is the goal, the purpose, the end. We can begin with that end in mind
27 replies on “Genuine Restoration (Part 3)”
Great post, Ted.
I’ve often wondered how many New Lifer’s, (I was one,) were driven into deep cover because of the example that was set by the Elders and their decision to exile you and your family. I had convinced myself that they had dealt with you according to the program you had created and that program was working. I was, however, confused as to how exile would help restore both you and your family. Resurrection is the key point that sets us apart from all other major world religions, and if we don’t practice true forgiveness and restoration, our faith is moot. Let’s form a coffee clutch instead, just not Starbucks. 🙂
Quick reply to say that, as an elder of New Life at that time, I felt utter chaos in the way that the ‘Ted appointed’ overseers handled the situation. It felt wrong to me. The elders were in turmoil and many left before any dust settled. My wife and I rode it out since we felt God had put us in that position. There were many many people that we’re hurting, including other leadership. We stayed to help bring stability and what healing we could. After all decisions were made and the Elders were, almost all, dismissed we still saw the chaos in the hearts of people. We, Ex-Elders were mostly powerless. Not the Elders decisions. It was the appointed Overseers.
“Maybe it’s time you…”? Harsh, Ted. Be an example to the flock. 1 Peter 5.
And Galatians 6:1f that you quoted:”…gently”
Steve, thank you so much for being respectful and doing what you could to heal the hearts of the disappointed. It’s true that I nominated the overseers and submitted their names to the elders for approval, and that we all (pastor and elders) could swap one out every year. Sadly, it turned out to be the wrong combination of philosophies among the overseers at the time of my resignation that made it difficult for more healing. Obviously I am very sorry for that and so many other things during that time. You and your family were such a blessing from what others have said. Thank you!
These blogs need to become a handbook for churches, Ted.
In John 8 Jesus makes a strong statement, “He without sin cast the first stone!” The deliberation of the Pharisee was for destruction and not restoration. Jesus has a heart for restoration…
We need to examine ourselves to see if we have spent many years of study within the scriptures to become more like a Pharisee, than like Jesus…..
Ted, I knew you at ORU in 1974 and, though you are not perfect, I love you and Gayle and that you are still together. I also appreciate that you are still in ministry. I don’t know what process you went through to follow Galatians 6:1. Is that in one of your blogs? This is the first I’ve read. I agree that this is the seminal scripture regarding restoration for those who do the restoring and that this subject has not been taught in a healthy, Godly manner in the Body of Christ. What do you think are the key scriptures for those in need of restoration? Did you follow these? I hope this is in one of your blogs. I love you, Ted, and pray God’s richest blessings on you, your family, and service to Jesus!
Good to hear from you Mark. Yes, this is a blog, and all of them can be found at tedhaggardblog.com. As for more details, you can check out my wife’s books, Why I Stayed and Courageous Grace. More information is also available at tedhaggard.com.
Good article and well thought out! We a re a long way from what we should be in the process of restoration. It is really a sad commentary on the Church when we are still struggling with issues that Christ has settled.
Jesus has settled it. Man gets in the way with mindsets that grade sin. Religion equals never being good enough. Formulas don’t work. It is important to find the right people to be open with our struggles. Restoration can not happen when Christians still hold you captive to what you have confessed.
Excellent Blog Ted! I especially liked paragraph 7 where you make the observation of “Are we more concerned about managing our image, than restoring our brother?” That speaks volumes, and in my opinion is exactly what took place along with other things with the Leadership of the Overseer’s at New Life. Also in Paragraph 4 where you give the Greek definition to the word “Katartizo” and the several translations through NLT and the Amplified that say “help that person back onto the right path” or “set him right, restore and reinstate him”. Excellent thoughts, and insight! Ted, continue to listen to the Holy Spirit, and his guidance! May God richly God Bless you, Gayle. and your entire family!!
As a Pastor your blogs are deeply helpful you should do a teaching series when you are done on YouTube or DVD
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Ted, the work you are doing with restoring the fallen is admirable. I remember when you started, and I applaud your process and your progress.
It is not a casual decision to allow someone to speak into your life (and your family’s life) at its very foundation. How do you restore trust?
How do you trust a pedophile priest around your children? Or an adulterous pastor around your wife? Or a youth leader who had sex with a young girl around your daughter?
There must be built in protection in the restoration process for the recidivism that you mentioned. Assuming that you find a body of believers who will accept a fallen minister, how do you protect the minister and congregants from a repeat performance?
I am interested to know your thoughts and experience in this area. I have personally trusted a minister whose failure was similar to yours, and he was just as publicly humiliated and despised. He may have been more hated than you. He had to sell his house and move away. He had a large ministry, and the biggest names came to his church to speak.
I am not an average believer. I walked up to him after church one night and gave this minister who had fallen into homosexuality a simple, manly hug from a heterosexual man. I felt comfortable with his ministry, but most people never gave him a chance.
I understand the scriptural imperative to forgive and restore, but trust is a valid concern. I am certain that you covered this ground in your journey to restoration. Please share what you have learned in part 4 or 5 or 6. God bless us, Tom
Tom, You might look at some of the comments and replies in the last blog to see some constructive thoughts on this. No doubt, though, you would love Gayle’s book, Courageous Grace. It deals with this issue precisely.
Ted, I was Assemblies of God at the time to which you refer. Jimmy Swaggart did, in fact, follow the restoration program of his district. What subsequently took place was due to the overstepping of the General Council. It seems we all need to treat others as we want to be treated, (Matthew 7:12) and let love cover (1 Peter 4:8).
Tony, very interesting and, sadly, typical. The AG lost their #1 person in public and since then has never regained the interest in the general public and has been in decline in the US (with the exception of the Hispanic community). I wonder when “Bible believing Spirit-filled Evangelicals” will start applying the Bible, obeying the Spirit, and accept the premise of Evangelicalism that we are all saved by grace through faith, and not by works? Maybe today would be a good day to start.
Great job again Ted, you are outlining clear truth that many forget when they read Galatians 6:1
“Restoration teams” get too focused on their process, instead of the main outcome. I believe one of the reasons for this is because they use ‘the process’ to self protect and create a time gap…distance themselves…so they don’t have to take responsibility for their own sin and actually look in the mirror themselves. It’s fear driven and helps them to protect their bank account from ‘fallout’ of public perception.
If they were truly faith driven, they would not be concerned what perception was, inside, nor outside the church.
It seems as though the “restoration programs” of our churches are those things dreamed up in the carnal mind of man. True biblical restoration comes when we realize our failure, and fall at the feet of Jesus with a broken and contrite heart. That’s when He can do the most work in us. That’s when the Holy Spirit can come in with His scrub brush and clean out the bad stuff and replace it with the good stuff. I would agree that we focus on the process instead of on the outcome. Thankfully, Peter didn’t have to go through his church’s restoration program after he denied Jesus not once, not twice, but three times. All he had to do was repent, and Jesus restored him IMMEDIATELY! That’s a really good thing, because his church leadership would have caused him to miss out on preaching the inaugural message on the Day of Pentecost! Good post Pastor Ted.
Joeylanglinais captures the heart of what the failing individual must do … “True Biblical restoration comes when we realize our failure and fall at the feet of Jesus with a broken and contrite heart. That’s when the Holy Spirit can come in with His scrub brush and clean out the bad stuff and replace it with the good stuff.”
The next important step for the community of believers is in the process of “…replace it with the good stuff.” I think here is the crux of Ted’s point. The Holy Spirit does work in the individual, but also works in the community of believers FOR the individual. A broken and contrite person needs wise counsel from Loving pastors, friends, psychologist, and medical professionals. The Community of those who love you need the same goal as our Loving God – to get you whole, healthy and productive. With Humility then the Community responds to to whatever it takes to restore you.
This means that sometimes you need a shoulder to cry on, sometimes you need a kick in the backside, sometimes you need medication, sometimes you need professional addiction counseling and sometimes you need all of the above. The Holy Spirit created us individuals as a whole – Body, Mind and Spirit and we need to be addressed in our “Wholeness”.
We often want to ignore the uncomfortable process and “just believe” that God will always do the immediate, miraculous. God in history does do the immediate miracle and he does more often choose to take us through the Process. We must start with a broken and contrite heart. The big need is for a community of believers, around you, who love you enough to bring their broken and contrite heart to your healing. We all need to be open to the process that brings healing in the creative way that God chooses. That takes true contrition on all our part and a willingness to engage in God’s process.
Excellent!!!!! Thank you Dr. Roberson.
Bobby Torres wrote me a note that I thought applied. I asked his permission to copy it here: “Hi Ted, I am so glad that the Father poured all his wrath never again to be mad at mankind on his son Jesus long before I was born. Jesus paid the penalty for the sins of Adam to the last man standing. I was forgiven, justified and made righteous before I was born and beyond my lifetime. I have been acquitted, no double jeapordy and diplomatic immunity which allows me never to be prosecuted for future sins. Only one condition. I have to believe. Believe that God loves me so much that he would give me this free gift. I am righteous by faith and yet I too have sinned as a Christian minister but I cannot access this grace Ro 5:2 if I walk in guilt, condemnation or regret. I have to believe in my justification and righteousness. Praise God, my dear brother. “
I agree Pastor Ted on your overall goal here of “restoration” as a lost art in the Church. The crux of the issue here is “numbers” to me; we don’t restore or give the opportunity to restore due to the risk associated with it monetarily. I honestly believe this is the motivation behind leadership not engaging the process of restoration. Our lives and resources are too precious to us to risk putting on the line for the good of another. It’s a money > people mentality, even though that is masked on the surface.
However, I must disagree that Galatians 6:1 is a directive to restore a Leader in every situation EXACTLY to the place and position He/she was in. I believe sound wisdom, discretion, and judgment led by the Holy Spirit should be in play here. The main goal of restoration, in my opinion, should be for us to maintain a place in the family of God at large for the fallen individual while also rightly assessing what level of influence that person is ready to handle as a favor of protection for that person, the other Church family members, and that person’s direct family.
There is plenty of Scriptural basis for fruitful disassociation with a Brother/Sister in Christ in some cases though. “If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.” 2 Thess. 3:14,15 & “As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” Titus 3:10
Pastor Ted your transparency in discussing these matters is second to none. You’ve always been that way. I see the fulfillment of James 5:16 in your life. Thank you for being you.
Thank you Paul. Excellent comment. Next week I’ll be in Israel with a large group from St. James, so I’ll probably blog about Israel from there. But when I get back my guess is that I’ll continue this theme and comment on some of the verses you mention. I appreciate your insight and wisdom.
Thank you for a helpful article…Could you give a short precis of the trauma counselling that explained your situation? I am struggling with childhood trauma and its effects today (after 30 years of ministry). Do you think mid life exacerbates problems from childhood?
Thanks for sharing this series. It has been very helpful, as have the comments of many…