Bringing Restorative Practice into Congregational Life


Using the Restorative Questions: Let us Pray

Faith communities offer unique opportunities for introducing explicit and intentional restorative practices to build healthy communities.

Here’s one practice you can try using the restorative questions.

This practice could be used in a meeting, a workshop, a retreat or during a worship service.

The leader asks those present:
(The questions can be provided so people can jot down their thoughts.)

  • Think of a situation in your life that needs healing. (Period of silence*)
  • Who has been impacted and in what ways? (Period of silence)
  • How have you been impacted? (Period of silence)
  • What’s the hardest thing for you? (Period of silence)
  • What needs to happen to address the situation and move forward? (Period of silence)
  • What are you willing to do to address the situation and move forward? (Period of silence)

* The period of silence depends on the circumstances. For example, if you use this practice during a workshop or retreat, you may wish to have a the period of silence for 1-3 minutes. In a church service you may wish to limit the silence to 20-30 seconds

The leader prays, asking that all that has been named in silenced be infused with love and understanding as people find the courage to move forward in ways that bring healing creating bonds of understanding, dignity and respect.

If the church has a restorative team, the names of the members of the team can be made available if people need help to address the named concern.

The benefits of the practice:

  • People will become familiar with the restorative questions and begin to incorporate them into their lives.
  • There will be an explicit expectation that broken relationships should be addressed restoratively.
  • The practice will provide the opportunity for the congregation to develop a restorative practice culture and an explicit way to provide support for restorative practice through the congregational restorative team.

Men and Depression Podcast

Shalem’s Mark Vander Vennen was interviewed by Kirk Giles, Executive Director of Promise Keepers Canada, for a Promise Keepers podcast about “Men and Depression”. You can listen to the podcast hereThe interview is a follow-up to Mark’s recent Shalem Digest article entitled “What’s Going On With Men Today?”, available here.

The Little Book of Restorative Justice for Sexual Abuse: Hope Through Trauma

Shalem’s FaithCARE (Faith Communities Affirming Restorative Experiences) program has been extensively profiled in a major new book! The book, called The Little Book of Restorative Justice for Sexual Abuse: Hope Through Trauma, is the newest addition to the internationally regarded “Little Book” series on restorative practice and conflict transformation. Written by Shalem colleague Judah Oudshoorn, with support from another Shalem colleague, Michelle Jackett, FaithCARE’s work is used as a primary source for the book’s chapter entitled “Communities: A Case Study”. The book itself is an outstanding addition to the restorative justice literature and helps to fill a gap in that literature. We highly recommend it!

Restorative Theory In Practice: Insights Into What Works And Why

Shalem’s Executive Director Mark Vander Vennen has just had a chapter published in a new landmark book about restorative justice.  The book is called Restorative Theory In Practice: Insights Into What Works And Why, edited by internationally renowned restorative justice practitioner Belinda Hopkins. Mark’s chapter, called “Towards a Relational Theory of Restorative Justice”, explores how “attachment theory”, which undergirds our attachment psychotherapy work at Shalem, can enhance the theoretical understanding of why restorative justice is effective. The chapter represents a milestone in both our attachment and restorative practice activities at Shalem—and especially at understanding the deep the links between them. It is also a reflection of the increasing hearing that Shalem is receiving in the mental health world.

Canadian WrapAround: A Case Study of A Volunteer-Driven, Community-Based Approach for Families, Children and Youth with Complex Needs

A milestone journal essay about Shalem’s WrapAround work has just been published. Called “Canadian WrapAround: A Case Study of A Volunteer-Driven, Community-Based Approach for Families, Children, and Youth with Complex Needs in Hamilton, Ontario”, the essay shows that a community-based volunteer WrapAround program can achieve research-validated outcomes with families that are as strong as professional staff-driven WrapAround initiatives. The article is published in the journal Relational Child and Youth Care Practice (Vol. 27, #4). Congratulations to our partner, WrapAround Hamilton, on these outstanding results. Congratulations also to lead author Lauren Wallace (volunteer chair of WrapAround Hamilton) and Shalem staff co-authors Andrew Debicki, Elske De Visch Eybergen and Mark Vander Vennen.

FaithCARE article in SAGE: CCJC’s e-bulletin

FaithCARE was featured recently in the e-bulletin for the Church Council on Justice and Corrections (CCJC). In the SAGE e-bulletin, Anne Martin reflections on how conflict isn’t optional when it comes to human relationships, but we can decide on how we respond to that conflict. Anne describes how churches can respond to conflict and gives examples of how FaithCARE has worked in church settings. Read the full article here.

The Congregational Assistance Program: Bringing Occupational Assistance to Faith Communities

Dr. Rick Csiernik along with Mark Vander Vennen, Marg Smit-VandeZande and Ken Van Wyk were authors in Workplace Wellness:  Issues and Responses. Their chapter was titled: The Congregational Assistance Program: Bringing Occupational Assistance to Faith Communities.  (Csiernik, R. (2014). Workplace Wellness:  Issues and Responses. Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press.) To read the chapter, visit this link.

Advent 2014

Immanuel, God with us. Read some of Mark’s reflections on celebrating Advent with the new story of “God with us”, the old story of failures and despair no longer have the upper hand. Also included are some highlights from 2014, including stories of change and hope for those we work alongside. Blessings for this Advent season, and thank you for what you do in your communities to live out the hope we celebrate this Advent: Immanuel, God with us.

Bringing EAP to Faith Communities: Genesis of a Canadian Congregational Assistance Plan

Mark Vander Vennen and Marg Smit-VandeZande together with Ken Van Wyk and Ric Csiernik recently had the following professional journal article published in the Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health.  The article titled:  “Bringing EAP to Faith Communities: Genesis of a Canadian Congregational Assistance Plan can be found here.  

A Tale of Two Churches: The Development of a Congregational Assistance Program

Shalem’s CAP program has been featured in the Journal of Spirituality in Mental Health in the an article titled “A Tale of Two Churches: The Development of a Congregational Assistance Program”.  Both Marg Smit-VandeZande and Mark Vander Vennen are two of the authors of this piece, along with Ken Van Wyk and Rick Csiernik.  To read the full article, visit this link.