Learning & Resources

Shalem Mental Health Network

Can We Talk but Still Stay Together

North American Association of Christians in Social Work, 2022

Vander Vennen, M., & Braganza, M.


Restorative practice is increasingly being used in numerous Canadian contexts, including social work practice, to resolve conflict in emotionally healthy ways. It aims to facilitate dialogue, repair and nurture relationships, and foster belonging. Its strategies align with the Christian imperative to develop right relationships with our neighbours. Despite its potential value to social work professionals, including Christians, little scholarship describes how it can be implemented. This article offers a case example of restorative practice work implemented in faith communities to address conflict and build stronger, more connected communities. First, the origins of the approach are discussed. Then, an overview of the approach developed for faith communities is offered. This is followed by an overview of how it is implemented in practice. Finally, an example is offered illustrating its implementation across the Christian Reformed Church of North America. The article concludes with considerations for Christian social work professionals interested in understanding or utilizing this approach.