If you are looking for a great book that will challenge you and encourage you at the same time, let me recommend The Next Christians by Gabe Lyons. It will give you an entirely different picture of the concept of restoration. In the first segment of the book he describes the different kinds of spiritual attitudes by the religious groups during the ministry of Jesus. There were the Separatist (Pharisees), the isolationists (Essenses), and the blenders (Sadducees and the Herodians). He notes that among followers of Christ we have all the same people today. But Jesus didn’t really fit into any of the groups and called on His followers to be in the world without allowing the world to get into us.
Lyons calls for a reclaiming restoration and describes six marks of restoration. They are Provoked, not offended, Creators, not critics, Called, not employed, Grounded, not distracted, in Community, not alone and Countercultural, not relevant. He has a chapter on each of these topics in which he not only explains what he means but gives powerful real life illustrations of each being done in our time. As he describes each it is painfully obvious that the church has far too often been the ones offended, critics, employed, distracted, working alone and trying to be relevant instead of the restorers that Jesus called us to be.
Instead of seeing restoration in terms of trying to rebuild the structure that was there in the first century he describes the restoring of the heart and mission of Jesus in the world today. Trying to rebuild the structure puts us too often in the place of the Amish trying to keep the world and change from having any affect on us. By dressing and acting like we live in centuries long past we can seem more like an oddity than people changed by Jesus in how we live today.
While some of the illustrations may not be ones you would want to follow in every case the point is powerful and one to be embodied by those who really want to win the lost to Jesus Christ. Lyons gives one of the best illustrations of getting the salt out of the salt shaker I’ve seen in a long time.