The Hurting Church: Why we get hurt and hurt others

Written by Gail Rodgers

The hurting church is not an occasional dilemma. More and more often we find people who have been hurt deeply within the family of God, leaving them worn and exhausted. More and more often we find leaders in conflict within the body of believers, robbed of the joy Jesus promised in Him. When we find this hurt hanging on to our own bruised soul, it can make us want to leave the church and sometimes even want to “back burner” our God who seems to have allowed it all.

Sadly, we have come to accept that this is the way church is. There is an epidemic of fractured believers out there and we have actually come to accept this as the norm. So we either stay away and let our hearts become cold … or we put on our Sunday best, call “forward march” and implement a new vision or program and hope the problems will just go away. The hurt in individual hearts and churches gets buried … until it gets bumped again.

Can we break this cycle that happens over and over in heart after heart, and church after church?

I am continually amazed at the simplicity of God’s Word and the direct instructions He shares with us. The Father’s heart toward us, His children, is so open and loving as He instructs us in living in the day-to-day challenges of rubbing shoulders where the rubber meets the road.

The steps God gives us are simple, though not necessarily easy. They are steps that can help us move from being reactive in conflict to becoming proactive in guarding our hearts and our churches. And, as steps always do, they will take us to higher ground where we can live above disunity and confusion.

The framework these steps are built on is love. Love is also the handrail that helps move us along from one step to another. Without love, the steps move us from the fulfillment of right living that God calls us to, to self- righteous living, which is hollow and void of the power of the Holy Spirit. God says our trademark will be love. “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35)

Step 1: Know your enemy

We don’t like to focus on the devil. We don’t want to give him any glory. Yet, in failing to heed the warning of Scripture that the devil actually “prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8), we find ourselves consumed (devoured!) by all kinds of irritations in one another and in the church.

How the new programs run, personalities of the leaders, worship styles that become the focus and the quarrel, people who “just don’t get it” spiritually the way we do, all begin to rob us of our joy and steal our effectiveness as a body of believers. And we are so often oblivious to what is really going on in the spiritual realm. Scripture says, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers…” (Ephesians 6:12) When in conflict with another believer, we need to ask ourselves the question, “Am I wrestling against flesh and blood?”

The answer in these situations is usually “yes.” And the solution is so simple we miss it. As Christians we are in a wrestling match. But our opponent is in the spiritual realm. His mandate is to “kill, steal and destroy” (John 10:10). Instead of recognizing that, we put on the gloves and begin to engage in battle with one another, leaving scratches and scars, bruises and bleeding that sometimes takes years to heal and always leaves a mark. And the trademark of love becomes so faint, onlookers can hardly see it.

Scripture tells us to “be alert”, “resist the enemy” (1Peter 5:8,9) be on your guard and “stand against the schemes of the devil”. (Ephesians 6:11) So when irritation strikes … know immediately who your opponent is … know immediately he has schemes and plans in place that will at best steal from you and at worst destroy God’s people and their effectiveness.

Any pervasive, downward spiral needs to be called what it is. Be alert to the red flags. Our human nature wants to defend and justify ourselves. God knows the propensity of our hearts to go their own way. That is why He calls us to pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44) and to do good to those who spitefully use us (Luke 6:27). (The trademark of love, remember?) Only the “God strength” in our lives, His strength invited in at our point of weakness and frustration, can remedy this battle that is fought in the heavenlies, yet lived out in our churches.

“Be alert and always keep on praying” (Ephesians 6:18) When prayer is no longer the oxygen of our spiritual soul or the heartbeat of our church, our defense is down. Praying for those who hurt us becomes something we don’t even want to do. Neglect in prayer and in the spiritual training of the Word leaves us with open doors for the enemy to turn the wrestling match on one another. It is so subtle and we can feel so justified, but the loss in our own hearts and in the Kingdom is an unnecessary tragedy. The stealing and robbing is done long before we have even recognized the enemy was at the door. Knowing he is prowling the neighborhood keeps us in a proactive state and able to recognize and withstand his tactics.

Step 2: Keep short accounts

The simple truth of the Word of God in the instruction from Paul to “not let the sun go down on your anger” is so profoundly elementary that we miss it.

The Bible often uses the picture of seeds and reaping and sowing. Seeds of irritations and annoyances, not plucked out and dealt with on a daily basis, grow in our hearts. When they are not dealt with as soon as we recognize them, they take root and each subsequent encounter with that same irritation, which will always be linked to some person, will cause that root to dig just a little deeper. The deeper it goes, the more bitter it gets.

Scripture tells us “a root of bitterness springs up and defiles many”. (Hebrews 12:15) When it finally spills out, or spits up, it defiles us and those around, and hurt is the result. When our own bitter roots spit up we hurt others. That is why Proverbs 4:23 tells us “above all else guard your heart for it is the well spring of life.” It is the very source of all we are. What is in our heart spills out of our mouth (Matthew 12:34), and it is by our very words that we often grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:29, 30), and love goes out the window. The trademark that identified us as His disciples vanishes and the world looking on can see no difference in us.

So guard your heart. Take stock every day. Holiness is really just truth in the inner part. Keep short accounts for your own heart’s sake.

If the root is only just beginning in your own heart and still undetected by others, go to God and ask for its removal. You know when it is there. Ask for grace to be poured out in your heart so that you will have all the grace you need to deal with that particular situation and person. 2 Corinthians 9:8 says, “God is able to make all grace abound to you so that in all things and at all times having all that you need you will abound in every good work.” If the root has already spilled out and hurt others, go and confess to them. Even if they do not receive you or do not own their part of the conflict, keep your own heart guarded and clean. You are only responsible for one heart. Unresolved conflict in the heart of another is God’s job to deal with.

The presence of God in a life and the degree of truth that is allowed in the inner part will be evident in the fruit of our lives. Watch the fruit in your own life and in the lives of others. The fruit gives us away (Matthew 7:20). If you have owned your part in a conflict and others refuse to do the same, give them grace, pray for them, and if necessary, distance yourself from the overflow of their bitter root until they allow God to do healing in their heart.

Always be alert to the seeds that you allow in your heart. They all eventually produce fruit of one kind or another. List the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness/humility, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22). Ask yourself the simple question: “What fruit of the Spirit is in short supply in my life right now?”

Then take an honest look at the seeds that may have begun to take root in your heart.

Step 3: Don’t be afraid of accountability

It seems we have come to allow gossip, slander and anger to simply be overlooked and rationalized in our churches. We excuse the fractures among believers by telling ourselves that God is purging our church, He is bringing justice. We stand up and glibly say, “God is in control,” while heads roll and tears fall and tender spirits get bruised and crushed. We forget that God gives us a choice in how we deal with matters and that the enemy is alive and well, attempting to influence those choices. We forget that for God to be in control of the moment, the conversation or the situation, we need to say “yes” to Him in allowing His Spirit to work in us and through us. Psalm 15 depicts the marks of an authentic Christian. It says, “He casts no slur on his fellowman…. but honors those who fear the Lord.” In any given troubling situation we need to honestly ask ourselves, “Am I making choices that allow God to be in control here or am I taking control?”

Proverbs 3: 5, 6 tells us to “trust in the Lord with your whole heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.” If your own understanding is resulting in opinions and actions that bring division, be accountable for what is going on in your own heart.

God speaks harshly about the one who promotes division. (Titus 3:10) If you are prompted to speak to one who is causing division, remember the trademark and go in love and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Don’t be afraid to call or be called to accountability. We can run to God, our help. God is sovereign and He is the great redeemer. No matter how bad a situation is, if He is invited in, at any point, He will come in and redeem the situation, work things out for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28) and put a derailed train back on the tracks.

2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked (selfish) ways, then I will heal their land” (their church, their heart). It’s a sure promise!

Step 4: Acknowledge pride

Scripture says, “God resists, or opposes, the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6) Pride is a killer. It is one of the subtlest tools of the enemy. God actually resists the proud! Who would want to be opposed by God! Yet in the church we often do find pride, but it wears a different cloak than it does out in the world.

In Christian circles we know that pride in our position and possessions is not a godly thing. We scorn openly the pursuit of “fame and fortune” alone. Yet pride exists in our hearts and in our churches in two prominent ways that we often try to justify.

  • There is pride in standing for a “principle of righteousness” while walking away from reconciliation. Making such a stand is not wrong in itself; however it is very often accompanied by a lack of grace and a spiritual superiority that cuts off the Spirit of God from working in a situation. If you are ever tempted to “stand for righteousness” against another Christian brother or sister, check if your trademark of love is visible, make sure your heart is clean in all the secret places and that you have done all you can to live at peace (Romans 12:18). If the basis for your stand is your own pride be very careful, for God does resist the proud.
  • The second place pride plays a major role in the church is in the area of spiritual gifts. You may have a discerning heart or a prophetic gifting. God may reveal truth to you in a situation or even in the life of another. Again, be very careful. God calls us first to prayer and often, to nothing more. If words are to be spoken God will clearly reveal that, but the first task is to obey the call to prayer.

Much damage has been done in the church when someone feels they have received a word from God and simply talks, rather than prays, about it. If you think you sense something pray, pray, pray and God will reveal if there is anything else He requires. God’s whisper in our Spirit will never be in conflict with what He directs in His Word. When we speak in spiritual pride, the Spirit is grieved and we cut off that which God was at work doing in our lives and in the situation. (1 Corinthians 13) The simple question to ask before opening your mouth is: “Will this lift Jesus higher or will this lift me higher?”

Be slow to speak, especially words that sow negative seeds about another, and be quick to listen. Ephesians 4:29, 30 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God…”

Step 5: Be willing to plant stakes in the ground

When we recognize there has been hurt in our church, we must be willing to take a stand to say what will be different from this day forward. So often we experience hurt within the church walls and we retreat for a while, only to return to find a new vision or a new program and a turning of the page to “forward march” and “forgetting what is behind” without ever acknowledging why we got to the hurtful point we did.

If there is one thing we have learned throughout history, it is that history repeats itself. Struggles with pride and accountability, with tending the seeds of our heart and not recognizing our enemy are day-to-day struggles.

Unless we recognize where we have been in hurting times and plant some stakes that serve as markers to check us when we tend to spiral into the same patterns, we have not taken the opportunity to mature and move ahead in our journey with God as a church. Ask yourself: “Am I willing to acknowledge my part and take steps to prevent a repeat?”

When conflict threatens your heart and your church, as it always will, seek first to be intentional about raising the prayer banner in your life and in your church. This invites the Spirit of God to be at work in the lives of those involved and minimizes our tendency to lean on our own understanding. It moves us toward recognizing afresh our utter dependence on God and God alone is the hope of the hurting church.

If you are part of a church that is experiencing hurt and conflict, confusion and disorder, God gives a measuring stick to determine what value system is at work.

James 3: 13-17 talks about two kinds of wisdom, one, which does not come from heaven, and one that does. The one not based on heavenly values is centered on earthly, unspiritual values with envy and selfish ambition at the core. Not hard to spot. The trademark of love will be missing as well.

The wisdom based on heavenly values will be pure, peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

This higher value system can be reached by applying these five steps based on the foundation of love – love that comes from the heart of the Father to our own individual heart. Then the world will see our trademark and glorify our Father who is in heaven.

Tend your heart wisely! The state of your soul, the health of your church and the world that is watching depends on it.

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191 Responses to “The Hurting Church: Why we get hurt and hurt others”

  • Doris Beck Doris says:

    Sorry we can’t come to Uganda, Bawa, but we glad that you have found our site and visit if from literally half way around the globe. Do come again!

  • Doris Beck Doris says:

    How awesome to hear that not only did God direct you here, ‘very grateful’, but that He used this awesome article to encourage and bless you. God does desire to heal those deep hurts of your heart and to heal the broken pieces. Let me pray for you:

    Dear Heavenly Father,
    Thank you for this visitor that has been hurting and has not been encouraged by this article Would you help ‘Very Grateful’ to indeed study more of Your Word and to allow You by Your Holy Spirit to speak to those broken places. Thank you that You are the God of healing, and your desire is to make us whole and vessels for your honor and glory. Amen

    I am so grateful that God uses cracked pots to shine His light through us to others!

  • Bawa says:

    Good to here from you sir
    your ministry is good and my request to you is that can you come here Uganda and to bless ?
    Ps Bawa Noah

  • Very Grateful from Douglasville Ga. says:

    Thank God for directing me to this paper. It has given me God’s prospective. It has also given me an outline to study more of God’s word on the subject. My hurt was deep and hard. I honestly did not know how I could recover. I am still in the process, but I look foreward to God getting all of the Glory. Thank you Ms. Rodgers and Power to Change.

  • Alfred Alfred says:

    Dear Marie, My heart goes out to you! God has prepared my to pray for you, in that I am these years mentoring a person who has been so badly hurt by the church that he feels repelled by it. He first suffered rejection as a child, then was forced into the war, and now suffers from severe post-traumatic stress! In order to attend university had to become a church member and also attend twice / week.
    A few month ago he felt a need to draw close to God, and suggested that it may be possible to become a Christian without joining a church. I (wrongly) replied that a Christian needs the church fellowship to grow…. Now my prayer is that God prepare him to have me lead him to Christ, with no mention of any church. God will find a way to nurture him.
    Now to your situation: I’m glad you are still in Bible study! God has not let go of you and will find a way to help you grow! The church is not a group of perfect people, for we are all those who have been picked up by Jesus, from a life of hurt, sorrows, disappointments, tears, frustrations and failures. We, as hurting souls preparing for eternity are also the ones who are going through growing pains as God prunes us to aid in Spiritual growth.
    My feeling is for you is to be content with “just Bible study”, and (of course) daily worship times at home. Stop looking for a church and God will lead you one. Thankfulness for what you already have, is all you need right now.
    Dear heavenly Father, I thank You for looking after Marie. Give her peace, I pray, and help her to know that she is in Good Hands! Lead her to see the good in people. No one here is perfect, but in You we can have love, hope, peace, and even joy! In the precious name of Jesus, our intercessor, Amen.

  • Alfred Alfred says:

    Hi Jennifer, I too was going through a lot of hurt, was alienating my family, and hardly knew why. As you say, life is complicated. Upon praying for you, it seems that the first step for you is to restore your relationship with God. HE is faithful, as we see also in my story, which I feel led to share with you now: Here is part of my Spiritual journey:
    “After growing up in a Christian home and being baptized as a teenager, I, Alfred Waldo Neufeldt, was glad to go into 2 years of voluntary service. Being proud of what I’d done, I drifted for 30 years. I had a vague feeling that all was not well, but did not realize how far I’d fallen. With considerable difficulty I did hold onto a job, but was not getting ahead. I had lost rapport with my family (wife and 3 children), felt lonely and even bitter at times. I even looked at horoscopes, but when I found that evil spirits were starting to cater to me I was horrified! I prayed that God show me how to straiten out my life. Then HE gave me a dream in which I was on my way to hell, and I knew why. That shook me up! For the next 7 days, upon returning home from work, I knelt by my bed and wept bitterly for Jesus to wash me clean. Then I felt refreshed. I asked God what the next step would be, upon which a friend invited me to a Full Gospel Business Men’s meeting. There I received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.(That was in the spring of 1988.) What a thrill. I have never been the same since! I’d let go of God, but in His mercy, He had not let go of me. In His love, He drew me closer to Himself than I’d ever been before. My wife and I were led to participate in a Bible study for couples, which helped us to again find one-another. The Holy Spirit was doing a work in both our hearts. We took that course 3 times, and were in a position to teach it, when we moved to another province, and work commitments kept us from doing so.” (That Bible study was “Married for Life”, with what has now become University of the Family. Look for it on the internet.)
    I’ve heard say “the average Christian is living a defeated, spiritually impotent, fruitless, worldly (carnal) life. He is not walking in the fullness and control of the Holy Spirit”. That was me, all right, till God turned me around! No, I’m far from perfect, but the joy and love of our Lord fills my heart, and I know I have Jesus Christ as a friend, and a future in heaven. Sometimes God leads me to meet people who need Spiritual encouragement.”
    I think Gail Rodgers has a sensitive spirit and has written a great article. You, however, need also to have a one-on-one mentor. We do have a great team of online mentors who are more than willing to walk alongside of you on this journey. Just fill in the form on this page http://powertochange.com/discover/talk-to-a-mentor/ and someone will be in touch with you.
    Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you that Jennifer was led to write in for prayer. Thank You for the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, that is even now bringing peace and hope to her troubled heart! YOU see her at the feet of Doctor Jesus, who has healed many. In love, He is reaching out to her, bringing peace, hope and then joy. Her tears are still flowing while a faint smile bursts into an expression of joy, and she looks at Jesus in thankfulness. Her arms cannot help but be lifted up in praise & worship to recognize the importance of this moment, for Jesus is the only One who can and does bring forgiveness, healing, peace, love and joy. Thanking You, Oh God, we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

  • Marie says:

    I have given up on church altogether. I will be attending just bible study. I have tried unsuccessfully to find a church home but it seems everywhere I go I am not welcomed. I’m done with man but not with God.

  • Alfred Alfred says:

    Dear Broken, My heart goes out to you. You are certainly a dedicated leader in the area of church work that’s been entrusted to you! I’m wondering how one would go about finding a reason for these people to be (rightly or wrongly) undermining you. Might it be that the pastor and this other leader are wanting more control? Not that they should have it, but to make them feel good and to help them co-operate with you, it may be good to have a meeting for goal-setting, and to lay strategy on how to accomplish them. You may discover how close or how far apart your goals actually are from one another. In doing that, you are setting the example to put all your card on the table, and pray that they will put all theirs out also. Then they may have nothing which to hide behind. Maybe even a request that “they help you in some of this work” will put them on your side. —- just a suggestion.
    Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for lifting up this “Broken” church worker. YOU have given abilities and responsibilities. YOU know the hearts and the hurts! We pray for an acknowledgment of wrong-doing, for forgiveness, for the healing processes to begin, for co-operation, and for a willingness to let the Holy Spirit lead these church leaders. May accusations and criticism be put aside, as in LOVE and co-operation, new strategy is laid. Bless the work in this community, for it is You, Lord, that is building Your Church; and we are blessed to be a part of it! May hope lead to joy and joy to thanksgiving. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

  • Broken says:

    I have been hurt so bad by my pastor and another leader and this hasn’t been the first time. . I have been undermined and disrespected as a ministry leader. The pastor and another leader and someone I call a friend! There have been things that were planned with my ministry and I wasn’t even asked about it and I was the last to know 5 months later. The pastor and leader knew but not me. This isn’t the first time I have been disrespected and I’m tired. I have been a member of this church for 15 years, and have been a keader of this ministry for 9 years an have given all my heart and tears into it .I have been hurt 4 times and more. I’m drained spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. I want to sit down and leave this place and do what God wants me to do. I have to follow Christ and not my heart. Ive asked questions and have been shut down and they are keeping it hush hush. I’m so broken and hurt!!!! Please pray for me.

  • Sharon Sharon says:

    good comments from peolle writing in for the blog i love these discussions

  • Jennifer says:

    Pray for me. It’s complicated, but I’ll need to talk to people and I’m also afraid of not being able to restore my relationship with God. I still believed in Him, but wasn’t living for Him. Thanks.

  • Doris Beck Doris says:

    You are most welcome! Do check out the link as it is a very powerful story of the power of forgiveness. It is easy to talk about but much more difficult to actually forgive the perpetrator especially when they aren’t willing to deal with the consequences of their behavior. The most important thing for you is to deal with your own feelings of hurt and betrayal.

    We do have a great team of online mentors who are more than willing to walk alongside of you on this journey. Just fill in the form on this page http://powertochange.com/discover/talk-to-a-mentor/ and someone will be in touch with you.

  • Please let me be anon says:

    Thank you, Doris, for your sensitive response and for allowing me to remain anonymous. It’s much appreciated. I look forward to checking out your link and hearing what you have to say. I do agree that such bitterness and suppressed anger is like eating poison.

    When the Canon of the Ordinary blew me off, I wrote back to her and explained that a Church which does not, or worse yet, _refuses_ to do the right thing cannot expect anyone to respect them or to follow what they preach. Directly pointing out their hypocrisy did a lot to make me less angry, even though it may have gotten me nowhere.

    Anyway, I have been working becoming less bitter. I’ve prayed and sought help and support from friends, family, and even the one of the few members of the clergy who has earned my trust. She did the best she could to help me deal with a corrupt bishop. I’m slowly getting becoming less angry, but it’s very difficult when the ‘perp and his buddies are not sorry and have not met with the consequences of their behavior.

    Perhaps someday I could forgive these people, but I’ll never forget, nor can I trust the leadership in my diocese until the current bishop leaves.

  • Doris Beck Doris says:

    We will definitely let you be anonymous….and I first want to just say that I am so deeply sorry for what you have had to go through. There is absolutely no excuse for the perpetrator to only get a slap on the wrist and for you to lost your job because you reported this abuse.

    I can totally understand why you are still hurting and why you aren’t willing to trust your diocese again. Once that trust has been broken it needs to be earned again. It isn’t something automatic or something that happens easily. As you said, it is hard not to be bitter, but in order for you to move on that’s what needs to happen. Someone once said that when we don’t forgive or we become bitter, it is like eating rat poison and expecting the rat to die. Obviously the poison in us won’t kill the rat. In the same way, bitterness only impacts you and causes pain and illness in your life, and in no way impacts the perpetrator. For an incredible true story about the power of forgiveness, check out this link http://powertochange.com/discover/faith/jdekroon/

  • Please let me be anon says:

    Nice article.

    A few years ago, I was sexually assaulted by my boss at my church job. When I went through proper channels and reported it to the diocese, the ‘perp got a slap on the wrist and I lost my job on a pretense. He kept his job. The state I live in is a work at-will state, so it would have been difficult to prove that I lost my job because I spoke up. The diocese gave me the kiss-off. My tough luck.

    It’s hard not to be bitter. I am still hurting. I will never trust my diocese again until there is a new bishop, and I have lost respect for all but a few individuals in the clergy. I can count those people on one hand, if that. What is to be done when you pray for some sort of peace, but there’s silence? God doesn’t seem to be there.

  • Sharon Sharon says:

    good article i agree with tim it has to stop if want non blievers in the churches and to believe on God why would they come if we are hurtung each other

  • Tracy Azariah says:

    I’ve been hurt in Church so many times that I’ve just about given up.

  • Tim says:

    Gossip is poison from the pulpit to the congregation…yet, it is used every Sunday across the nation in analogies and story telling. It must stop.

  • Tim says:

    The apparent (yet unseen by the casual observer) growth philosophy (though unintended) of the church as it is instinctively and directly related to individual behaviors deems that people will be hurt. In other words, leadership spots people that are used as tools for growth. Those people, due to relavent growth talents make a difference…(it’s recognized as being obedient to the will of God). They are then admonished as being extra special people in Gods eyes…No not literally, but through the celebrity status they are adorned with. Narcissism and envy then begins to grow. People with a simple sincerity to serve but do not bring ‘valued’ talent and sensationalistic/charismatic personalities are left in the back drop never finding there place in the church. They are the sheep…as in any heirarchy. This process…this cycle is seen nationwide. Over the past 30yrs I have seen such hurts done to people that are unconscionable. I have seen nepotism at the highest level of presbyters. (You may know the kind) “We will make ‘Johnny’ the district director of youth since his daddy is the superintentendent of North Texas Dist. (fic.ex.only) or the Pastor hands the lead to his son who is from afar…and passes up the youth pastor or associate pastor who served faitfully for years. Both incidents are accredited to being the will of God; and deems that one does not question those leaders due to them being closer to God than you, hence division occurs. There is a growing dissolussionment in the church by the ‘non-essential’ members…No they are not ‘considered’ non-essential…they are ‘treated’ as such. Stay in a particular congregation or denomination and you will see the hurt in the name of God due to the ‘human’ factor. Upon inviting a friend (who had apparently experienced all that he should not have) to church…he replied “Why do I want to return to a place that caused me so much hurt? He said that he had nothing but bad memories and why would he want to go back to that ‘place’ when he already had to deal with the ramifications of all the pain that was caused him. I told him that none of what he experienced had anything to do with a loving God…He said exactly…that’s why I am not going. Hmmm…the logic. Love must be the dominant element of the church…Few church’s teach the elements of love found in 1 Cor. 13. Maybe we assume that all know what love is…God gave us the definition of love for a reason…it’s because we get it wrong so often. 1 Peter 4:8. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.

  • I have been hurt so much in the church and I know now…hurt people hurt people. What happend to by loving kindness have I drawn thee. The church is the only place I know that will keep hurting its wounded. God never intended for us to use the pulpit to go off on folks. Although I am an Evangelist and have a poweful ministry God has given me I fall short of His glory all the time….what I want to know is what happend to “love” we preach about everything but that. As a leader I fell, I repented to God, my husband, and the church and set myself down…do you think the church embraced or showed me love….instead my name was ran through the mud I was called everything but a child of God. When I messed up that one time they forgot about all the good I had did. They forgot how I was with many of them by their bedsides or prayed the heavens down or held them or spoke life, and blessed them. When I was in need of compassion and mercy I did not get it. I want and need God to heal my heart that is hurting. I love God so much and I love His people and even in all this I have nothing but love for them. Leadership often times needs help to we are the ones who preach, teach, pray, mentor, set the atmosphere and sometimes we too are hurting and in need of rest. Thank you for allowing me to get this off my chest I had been holding it in for sometimes. God Bless and anyone who is interested you can get to know me at calishawoods.com

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    It is so sad Mashudu that often people have used the name of Jesus as excuse to oppress others. That is not what Jesus ever intended. Jesus said, he said, “Anyone who wants to be the first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.” (Mark 9:35) But it is so easy to lose sight of that and become proud and make demnads of other people. We need to pray for each other that the Holy Spirit keeps us from that kind of legalistic arrogance.

  • mashudu says:

    The person who uses God’s platform to oppress is one of the most cruel one.Those people behave as if they keep God in their lockers and shelves.Once you think that you’re very clean before God than the next person,more often yuo start to judge others,you start to think that your church or status is your pond,you’re a big fish.You tell yourself that you deserve the best,yuo forget that no one born being saved.You had your time to be saved,STOP HARRASING OTHER PEOPLE.Though I wonder if salvation can prompt you to have pride and hurt others

  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    Kyle, I am so sorry to hear that you were badly hurt in the church but I would encourage you not to consider that door closed forever. You said,” I do not need to go to church to have a relationship with God.” That’s true, church is not a requirement of salvation but church is a necessary part of a Christian’s life. The Bible tells us to go to church because going it alone is not healthy. I’m not suggesting that you have to find a church this Sunday and march right back in as if nothing happened. But, and it’s an important but, if you decide that going to church is not necessary you’ll find that not going turns out to be really easy. It will feel ok for a while, you’ll probably keep up your own private study of the Bible and you may have a few close friends that you meet with for prayer, but over time you will drift.

    We were never meant to try and live the Christian life alone. There was always supposed to be a community around us. The community is there to help us and to give us a place to serve, it’s there to teach, encourage and admonish as necessary, the church is there to keep our heads on straight, to make sure that questions don’t grow into doubts. I know that for myself some of the times that I’ve felt closest to God have happened in church, and some have happened down on the beach with the waves roaring in. Church is not the only place that God can speak to us – far from it – but He does speak there. I would hate for you to miss out on that.

    Christmas can be a beautiful time to step back into church. Most communities have a range of service types to choose from. If you’re still reeling from what happened, try a service that is completely different. A very traditional Anglican or Lutheran service can be breath taking this time of year. In particular there’s an Anglican service that has been performed for hundreds of years called “9 Carols and a Lesson” it’s almost always observed on Christmas Eve or a day or two ahead of that. You might find that its different-ness could be soothing.

    I do not know what step you have already taken to try and resolve what happened, I’m sure that you did everything you could. But if you were to decide that church is not for you it worries me that you might find you have closed a door to God. It is a step away from your faith, not a step toward it. I know, first hand, how difficult it is to walk into a church as a stranger and how long it can take to find a place that feels like maybe it could become your home church. I’ve sat in the parking lot trying to work up the courage to walk in, alone, again, but having just very recently, finally, found a church that seems to fit, I can tell you how wonderful it is to sit in a service again on Sunday morning. If you decide you’re never going back then you are to open to what God might have planned for you. I know that sounds harsh, but you’re telling God, “No way, not ever.” Be careful. It’s a hard road out there on your own.

  • Kyle says:

    What’s so sad is how common this is. Obviously we Christians are not perfect and will do things we should not. I know I have hurt people throughout my life, but it was never intentional, and I would try to make amends as soon as possible. However, it really does seem that Christians can be the most hateful people on Earth, all the while wrapping themselves in the Bible. Three years ago, I was forced to leave my last church because one person decided she had a vendetta against me, and used her leadership position to make my life miserable. Not even the pastor would listen to anything I had to say. Only my two good friends there took my side, and it resulted in them being stripped of their leadership roles. The only way I could stop it and protect my friends was to leave, which I finally did after three months of living hell. I have not set foot in a church since and don’t see myself doing so anytime soon. What crime was I guilty of that she convinced everyone I was the second coming of Jack the Ripper? I asked her to dinner. This was not the first time I have been mistreated by someone in church, but it will be the last. If that means I never go back, so be it. I do not need to go to church to have a relationship with God.

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Lord God I do pray that Cheryl will find healing from Your Holy Spirit. Protect her from bitterness and a desire for revenge. Provide opportunities for reconciliation and unity. I know that can only happen as You mediate and help all parties to understand one another. Thank You that we can trust Your timing and Your love in matter like this. Amen.

  • Cheryl says:

    I just went thru something like this and wanted to keep my heart mind and spirit pure before God, while I try to live through the aftermath. Thank you, I truly thank God for this teaching and plan to share it when my healing is complete.Some hurts go so deep, one has to be healed from the inside out; the scar tissue has to be removed so it will not be a reminder of the wrong that was done to the individual.

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    That sounds like a great attitude Judith. Not everyone can let offenses go that easily. It reflects the perspective that Paul wrote about in 1Corinthians when he said, “The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?” (6:7) It is far better to allow someone to take advantage of us and trust in God’s blessing rather than make a big deal that destroys the unity of the Church. Not every situation can be handled like that but I commend you for trusting in Jesus with the situation you find yourself in.

    Lord I do pray that You would uphold Your daughter and use this situation to bring glory to Your name and help her to deepen in her knowledge and love of You. Guard her from the unfair attacks of this pastor and help him/her to recognize the dangers of their actions toward her and others. I pray God that in that local congregation You unity would reign supreme and You would use them to shine a bright light for their community. In the name of Jesus Christ who is our Lord, our Saviour, and our example, amen.

  • Judith says:

    Once again Pastor Jamie thank you for your advice. I am not and nor will ever be one who would cause divisions since I am not sharing my concerns with others members. I stress the person in question has issues and I realise it is not my job to point them out as a member of the congreation since others are aware of it. I am of the belief that we should all be accountable for our own issues, I don’t have the priviledge of using someone in the flock as a scapegoat for mine. The person in question has often quoted the scripture ‘Touch not God’s anointed and do His profhets no harm’ Despite my frustration at the unfairness of it all I choose to adhere to it. I reiterate it is not my concern anymore God will deal with His Shepherds and I will take time to address my own issues. I rest in the confidence that God sees the true motives of our hearts; He knows it was a cry for help hence the annonymity of both myself and the Leader in question. Once again thanks for your response, your advice has been very helpful and I will read over it again to see wat God would have me to do. God bless you. Judith

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    I am glad that you have found some peace with this Judith. Let me just push a little bit further: I totally support value of forgiving an offense from someone as long as you are truly forgiving and not just stuffing your hurt because you are afraid to confront. Unreconciled hurts are one of the great ways for Satan to build divisions and bitterness within the Church. Remember, Jesus prayed that we would be united in the same way that He and the Father were one (John 17:21). It is a priority for Him and therefore it needs to be a priority for us as well. We need to be relentless in our pursuit of unity. When we harbour bitterness and hurt that unity is jeopardized. I understand being reluctant to approach someone who has offended you but remember that Jesus will guide that process of reconciliation because it is a priority for Him. I am not promoting being a “pot stirrer” who makes a big deal out of every little thing but I am warning against giving Satan anything that can become an opportunity of division within the Body of Christ. It always spreads!

  • Judith says:

    Ok thank you for that Jamie words of wisdom indeed. I have of course been taking time to seek God since I posted my comment hence the time lapse. What I said is happening has happened to others who have now left the church. I can’t go any further with this than to just trust God to do whatever He chooses to do in our lives. I approached the Pastor with other Leaders present over another matter and He twisted every word I said and I left feeling drained and foolish. I am not a vindictive person in fact someone who is very sensitive and reserved who doesn’t like confrontation, so my request to speak with Him was not easy. I will not do it again unless the Lord leads me as I was ill prepared. In all this I can say that God is truly amazing He is awsome, He has a way of allowing us to see that all this ‘stuff’ does not really amount to anything in the scheme of things. In the midst of it I have found great joy and optimism for the future regardless. I have always prayed for the Pastor and His family and will continue to do so. My focus now is to keep my focus on the Lord and not to try to do anything in my own strength because there is a world of souls at stake and I don’t want to be a stumbling block through allowing myself to be distracted from that cause. God bless you. Judith

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Judith, that sounds like a terrible situation. Unfortunately, all of us are prone to pride and self-centeredness, even those in people who are pastors and leaders. First of all let me ask you; are there others in your church that recognize your pastor’s poor treatment of you? I am referring to people who have actually witnessed you being undermined and humiliated? I ask that because Paul wrote to Timothy that, “Do not listen to complaints against an elder unless there are two or three witnesses to accuse him.” (1Timothy 5:19) The reason for this warning is not that pastors and elders are not as likely to sin but because in their public leadership role they can be easy targets for unsubstantiated accusations. I would encourage you to talk to people in your congregation who have seen the things that your pastor has done and ask them for their opinion on what he did and why he did it. They might be able to help you see the situation in a different light.

    If you are convinced that your pastor has treated you poorly then it is necessary for you to go through the steps of reconciliation that Jesus laid out for us in Matthew 18:15-17: 1) go to the one who has wronged you and point out the hurt; 2) if there is no reconciliation from that take someone else with you and approach them with the hurt that they have caused you; 3) if that does not result in reconciliation then take them to the church and ask for the congregation to mediate between the two of you. Ken Sande has an excellent book on the issue of biblical reconciliation of conflict. You can find the book and many other resources that have developed out of it at http://www.peacemaker.net

  • Judith says:

    So what do you do when the Pastor chooses to be your enemy because He is threatened by the call you have on your life. Despite your prayers and attempts to serve you are undermined and publically humiliated, but you stay to stand your ground. Do you allow the Pastor to drive you out? Feels like King Saul and David.

  • Bernard Bernard says:

    Yes, you have been hurt in the church and you will likely get hurt again because people who have a tender heart before God get hurt often. That is why God has given us forgiveness that we may forgive others as well. He forgave us so much and so we can forgive so much as well. We can trust God because He is the only one who will never fail us or forsake us. What a promise to believe when we face adversity even from our brothers and sisters. Thank you Jesus!

  • Arlene says:

    I was hurt in my church today. I cried all the way home. I ‘googled’ for help, and God spoke through you to give me understanding, and, while not accepting what happened to me, it reminded me that I will be o.k. That God loves me and He understands my hurt; and has assured me that I will be alright. Thank you, and God bless you!

  • Bernard Bernard says:

    Is it true that there are 22 millions Americans out there who have been hurt by the church? I hope not. Then we need to repent. Or are they not just wanting to go to church because they are too busy. I wonder…
    I had a Bible school teacher say that wherever there are people there are going to be trouble. Over the years I have found out it to be true. I have been hurt by the church and by ministries, by people. Disappointed, bitter, resentful. God had to show me that life must go on and that my ministry is healing and yours is too in some ways. People who will be hurt by the church will probably people who are like king David, tender hearts and God can use you after He has picked up all the broken pieces and put you back together again. Be encouraged!

  • this is a REALLY HUGE problem in the church of today. I know some of us think that this is not an issue and just are happy to worship in the house of God week after week, but I know personally of this and know plenty others who have suffered at the hands of being hurt in church. Do we allow this to continue without speaking out? Do you we allow the 22 million adult Americans who no longer go to church because they were hurt in a church just stay the way they are without finding a creative, anointed way to reach out to them?

  • Shelley Shelley says:

    I love going to church. It is the best part of my Sunday. I go to listen to God’s teaching by my pastor and the fellowship as a group joined together as one unit singing with my heart to God.

  • Martha come Mary says:

    Author Brennan Manning was correct when he said that “the Church has become a wounder of the healers rather than a healer of the wounded”. How we deal with this truth is the question which many of us must come to terms with. Whether or not we take the easy way out, or be crucified in Christ is the question. How many of us are willing to take a hit; to embody (the epitome of faith)our lord, suffer and forgive? To be a peacemaker is to find yourself feeling you are a Judas in two camps. No, I have not looked at the Church for personal selfish gain. I simply looked, and was entranced by the mechanism and beauty of it. I lowered my eyes from where they should have been. I have not abandoned her, this bride of Christ. If you prefer, “body of Christ” may be a more workable term, but if so it must certainly be the body of the cross. Still bleeding, still suffering and crying out “why have you forsaken me?”

  • Alfred Alfred says:

    I must agree with Shelley, that people who share a faith need to fellowship together and receive Spiritual nourishment. Worshiping with different rituals may divide us, but being led by the Spirit will unite us. I think that a church that seeks to be Spirit-led is closest to being what Jesus is looking for..
    To Martha come Mary I would say that it is too easy to view a person or situation from the earthly and human perspective, rather than the Spiritual and Godly perspective. Do you mean that when a person looks at the church, seeking personal selfish gain, then the ugly side of it stops us short because we’ve done wrong? That as we become critical rather than supportive, we need discipline?
    The real church, the body of Christ, lives in many denominations. A friend of mine who is very critical of people and all their many mistakes, does not want to join any church. My next approach to him will be:“Look not to what imperfect mankind does, but look at what a perfect God has already done for us!“

  • Shelley Shelley says:

    To me the church is the people that our Lord has made for us to go and worship Him together as one unit=the family. The place we go is only a buidling of some kind where we go to seek God and His people. We all have different reasons why we go to chucrch, but the real reason isd to worship together as one body. We need to get rid of rituals in the church and go wanting to seek and serve.

  • Martha come Mary says:

    It has been said that the bride of Christ is the church. This is a metaphor in perfection. She can be so beautiful that she becomes the focus of your attention, the object of your desire. When you begin to look at her with lust in your heart, that’s when God will show you the other side of her face. There is a horror there which will bring you to your knees, and you will understand a little bit more of the infinite compassion of your maker.

  • cfast cfast says:

    Evangelist Gbenga, you will have to first get permission from the author, Gail Rogers, in order to use her work. Please click on her name at the top of this article and there you will find a link to her website where you can contact her directly. Please read our privacy policy to understand more about the privacy we give to our authors. Thank you!

  • Evangelist Gbenga says:

    i wuld like to publish this in my country Nigeria and charge nothing except the print charges.

  • Shinebrite says:

    This has been such a blessing to me today and something that I have been dealing with myself. The things we know through the word and guidance of the lessons around us, yet quickly forget due to the World around us and how they take “control” of their own lives. We all fall short but what an amazing way to dissect these issues wide open! Thank you thank you thank you! I will also be submitting to our pastor as there is no time like the present to address this very serious crisis that has invaded our churches. Thanks for the Blessings and May you all be blessed as well. Happy Valentines Day. May we all remember the Love gift from our Father when given us His Son Jesus Christ! Amen!

  • lady T says:

    This lesson came right on time for me.

  • ..Good Day..
    I read all of this topic..I was blessed..The behavior of a Church is in conflict when we always despise one another..not realizing the implications of our actions that brought hurts to others.Christians always keep a room that includes bad, wheat and tares, saved and hypocrites attitudes.Thus also includes divided sects, denominations and the isolated ones..We were despise by the none believers as useless organization… As Christians we would never despise the Church in this manner. We expect the preacher to study, pray and prepare well..Each of us should also prepare that we could come in the presence of God spiritually. The spirit of expectancy , expecting man would feed us by the word of God… We neglect to record our blessings, knowing the will of God, it is not only what we hear, but how we do hear Gods voice. ” the slogan said..shame on that church that cannot make a better Christian”..or ” My talent is too poor to be invested to that small Church”..To reduce hurts, we should claim that we were one body it is not earthly organization, It is Christ body..Mathew 16:18 Jesus said upon this rock I will build my Church”..thanks..Helen Lerion

  • anon says:

    This is great- thank u so much for writing this

  • Pastor Nancy says:

    Thank you for your help! I shall use these steps with my women’s group.

  • Lady Powe says:

    Excellent teaching, right on time. Plan to submit this to my Pastor.

  • Calvin Phillips says:

    this has been a good teaching. I would like to use this in my message/teaching tomorrow morning service. I am a elder at my church. and we are dealing with some division from leadership. thanks for your in dept teaching concering the church hurt. God bless….

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