There are so many sides to the scenes and situations of how church hurt plays out in the lives of people. From the church goer, the Pastor, and the Pastors’ kids to the church staffer, the intern, the volunteer… the list goes on.
The questions most talked about around this issue today are questions of:
- –How do you heal from church hurt?
- –Is being a part of a church considered essential from God’s perspective?
- –Is there anything lost by its absence or gained by its presence in our lives?
It seems the ‘post church hurt’ scene reveals two groups into which the attitude towards church roughly divides people:
- On one hand are those who might be called ‘isolationists’ in the sense that they have chosen to remain singular in their walk with the Lord. Their focus remains primarily within the boundaries of the saving of their own soul and personal development. For these it seems sufficient enough to come to Jesus, and remain singular in their worship, faith, and process of spiritual growth.
- For others, it’s not enough to come to Jesus only. They want to know where He is going, what He is building, and who they are called to be building with. In essence, they feel a compelling from within to be connected at the local level to His universal Bride.
I think what is probably true is that as born again believers we all have felt this compelling. We may have just grown numb to its drawing for many reasons.
I asked a friend who had gone through some significant church hurt, both as a church goer and as a church staffer, how she and her family navigated the aftermath and what they eventually chose. This is what she had to share:
“For weeks and weeks we stayed home on Sundays (my husband and I and our two children). I just couldn’t bear the sights and sounds of where I had once been so full of expectation, but experienced such disillusionment and pain. For a short time, the Holy Spirit seemed to give me some space for my heart to take in all that had happened and to exhale. But then one Sunday morning I woke up and shockingly told my husband, “We are going to church this morning.” Amazed he asked, “Why?” having been in the same place emotionally as me.
“Because it’s not about what a person did to us. This is about the condition of my heart, and I have fought my whole life to not lose ground in the condition of my heart, and I just can’t give that up and let bitterness take hold in me now.”
She went on to say, “I just began to realize or maybe remember that the church never hurt anyone; people do. But the church is where God calls us—not a man or woman. We were never supposed to be there because of any person, even a pastor, but because we have honor for God, His house, and we are answering His call.
It really wasn’t about my own dashed to pieces expectations of what church or ministry was. The church is the fabric that me, my husband, and our children are woven into because we are His body, and His body gathers. His body worships together, prays and grows. His body weeps together, fights battles together and reaches cities.
How can I be His and relinquish my place within His body?
The will of God for our lives, including who our Pastor is and where our church home is, isn’t something we choose; His will is where God calls us and we follow. It’s not designed to be a process where we try on churches like a pair of shoes and see if we like the fit. This is something that lies between me and Jesus and His will for our lives. All the rest of it is irrelevant.”
I asked her to share with me what this process of transitioning from hurt to healing felt like:
“First, we had to determine this was not up for negotiation. We were going to honor God’s house and be faithful to where we felt He called us to be. And let me tell you, we had to fight our flesh every step of the way! In the beginning, just to show up and sit in that pew felt like a wrestling match on the inside. But we held to it, and sitting there each Sunday God began to change us inside.
He healed us just by being faithful and sitting in the atmosphere of the corporate anointing. Now we see the fruit in our lives from being planted in the house of God, and we’re watching some of our friends still roaming from church to church or not attending all and spiritually something is missing. They just aren’t being built up anymore, and they feel the effects of it.”
I so value the decision my friends made, and the insight they received. The day she made that decision, the church started healing.
I wonder how much more healing is happening within the church as one-by-one we decide to be His bride, and allow the power of the Holy Spirit to make things right.
This is the ground-zero bedrock cornerstone of how to heal from church hurt. The call to be the Bride comes from the Bridegroom, and we have all been called. In the book of Romans, Paul wrote about a longing he had to be physically present with the church family there because of how critical it was for them:
“I long to see you that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you that you may be established to the very end.” —Romans 1:11
Paul was saying it is essential to gather because there is a spiritual impartation that you are absolutely going to need for your strength so that you can make it to the very end. Wow, can we ever see this today. Strength from spiritual impartations is so necessary if you are going to keep your footing and remain strong through the day we are living in.
I have sat in services where my Pastor was preaching the most basic Gospel salvation message on a Sunday, and just sitting there listening I was strengthened; my outlook changed, I felt my soul come into alignment as my spirit was encouraged, and many times answers to my situations would come to me. Why? Because the Lord called me there, and there was a supply—a spiritual supply that I received.
There is an ancient strategy of war called a siege. Essentially, it is when the enemy surrounds, isolates, and cuts off the opposing army from all their supplies—food, water, care, and even back up. Then they simply wait until they grow too weak to defend or fight the way they normally would. Isolated and cut off from anyone to call on for help, they can easily be overcome.
That is what the enemy of your soul is banking on happening. He wants to use church hurt to get us to negotiate whether we really even require the house of God or not, cutting us off from our supply line.
God told us, “Now you are no more strangers but fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God. In whom all the building, fitly framed together grows unto a holy temple in the Lord. In whom also we are built together for a habitation of God through the Spirit.” —Ephesians 2:19, 21-22)
Church is not the place we choose that fits our fashion; it is the call we answer from Him.
For those in ministry that have been so brutally hurt, treated poorly, lied to, walked on and had your compassion abused, the same is true: the church is your supply line. It was people that hurt you not the church. Your healing comes from the one that called you, and His house is a house of healing.
The church is healing each time we show up because we are answering the call from the one that called us. He is building a beautiful bride without spot or wrinkle, and her future is glorious.