The Divine Design: God’s Plan for Restoration in a Community Setting

June 22, 2017 | Comments Off on The Divine Design: God’s Plan for Restoration in a Community Setting


The Divine Design: God’s Plan for Restoration in the Community Setting by Cheryl S. Knight, MS, MTh, and Jo M. Getzinger, MSW

Do you know the difference between a Sunday community and a real community? I had never thought much about this question before reading The Divine Design: God’s Plan for Restoration in the Community Setting. I used to aim for what I thought was real community in my small groups and discipleship, but frankly, real community is difficult to find in the hustle-bustle me-orientation of modern America.


The closest I ever experienced to real community was in the singles group God plopped me into my first three years as a Christian. We were together in one form or another almost every day. There was the Sunday teaching and discussion time, the weekly Bible study, the periodic coffee hours, various social events, and individual meals with friends. Ours was a group that focused on authenticity, so I learned Christianity in that type of community. We were an “iron sharpening iron” group. And we grew. I have carried so many of the lessons of those days into the past 40 years of ministry.

But as wonderful as it was, that community was nothing like the one described in The Divine Design: God’s Plan for Restoration in the Community Setting. This book describes the process of building an intentional residential community for severely wounded survivors of ritual abuse and the fruit that has yielded in the lives of so many. Authors Cheryl Knight and Jo Getzinger are the founders and parents of the CARE community in Baldwin, MI. They tell the story of how they got started ministering to survivors, how they were led to settle in Baldwin in an old warehouse and four-bedroom home, and how they learned real community by trial and error.

Theory and Theology

They also discuss in some depth the theoretical/theological approach they use in a community where attachment issues are core. They use The Life Model: Living From the Heart Jesus Gave You as pioneered by James Wilder, Ph.D. and others, which chronicles the developmental tasks we need to complete to become healthy adults. Sadly, even those without severe wounding haven’t completed many of these tasks, so we need others to help identify what is lacking and then provide an environment for achieving these developmental milestones. Knight and Getzinger describe the specific interventional approaches they use in community to help one another grow up into full Christian maturity. Such intervention simply can’t happen on Sunday morning; it requires a New Testament community where the members are as important (or more so) than the paid staff.

This book caused me to reassess my life and my ministry. I had the opportunity in 2003 to not only attend a THRIVE conference where these techniques and skills were taught, but also to spend several days at CARE. I was able to engage in the life of the community as well as sit in on therapy sessions. I saw firsthand that their approach is successful with a population the traditional church tries very hard to ignore and avoid.

The book is peppered with writings from members of the CARE community, both those who have made a life in Baldwin and those who have come through for a season. This lends another note of authenticity to their approach. I seldom see that level of health and self-awareness in most church members. So the question is, does this book have a message for ordinary Christians who don’t live in a residential community? I think so. I found several elements that I intend to implement in my ministry.

Story. Testimony. Theory. This book has it all, woven into a compelling chronicle. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in growing deeper, growing up, or growing in ministry.

(Note: The Divine Design: God’s Plan for Restoration in the Community Setting is only available in Kindle format on Amazon. Order the print version here. Life Model resources are availble here.)


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