faith communitiesIn "Restoring Relationships: What churches can learn from restorative justice," Paul Pastor for Christianity Today writes:

Bruce Schenk is a Lutheran pastor and the director of Canada's International Institute for Restorative Practices. The IIRP is an internationally affiliated organization dedicated to education and research in restorative justice — an approach to community conflict that emphasizes relationships. Bruce has worked in the area for the past 15 years, using his skills in contexts ranging from incarcerated juvenile offenders to church congregational decisions. Now, he's bringing what he's learned to a wider audience. His trainings have been sponsored by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada to better equip clergy and laity to foster healthy relationships and manage conflict.

I asked Tom Albright of Ripple Church in Allentown, Pennsylvania how Schenk's philosophy has impacted his congregation. "Shalom and reconciliation are the heart of the gospel," Albright said. "Restorative practices give us the tools to enact peace, redemption, reconciliation, and healthy relationships." Ripple's pastoral staff are all trained in restorative practices—a story for another day, but one worth telling.

Schenk and I sat down for a phone conversation on restorative justice in church settings. He thinks Christian leaders need to rethink decision-making—and conflict—in their congregations, and why "thinking restoratively" is at the heart of the gospel.

Read Restoring Relationships: What churches can learn from restorative justice.

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