Hurt by the Church

Hurt by the Church

By Marilyn Pritchard

The church should be a place of joy, comfort, and healing. It is, after all, the body of Christ on earth until He comes again. But it is also made up of sinners, which means it can sometimes be a source of betrayal and disappointment. 

Even if you’ve only been in ministry a short time, you’ve likely encountered people who have been hurt by the church — maybe it’s you. If you find yourself in that position now, here’s some advice gleaned from people who have lived through it:

Search your heart. It’s important to own up to our part in the situation. Ask God to reveal anything you might have done to hurt someone else. If He does, turn around and confess it to Him, so you can move forward in your healing process without guilt or shame.

Don’t retaliate. Lashing out at those who hurt us is usually our first response. Instead, bring your harsh words to God. He has shoulders big enough to bear the burden. The apostle Peter reminds us, “If you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. … Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. … When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate. … Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (1 Pet. 2:20-21, 23). 

Seek wise counsel. It helps to have an objective third party to help us sort out fact from feelings. A Christian counselor can help you maintain a biblical perspective while working through your pain.

Beware of bitterness. “Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many” (Heb. 12:15, NLT). If we allow our pain to fester, it becomes bitterness, which can spread to those around us. The sooner you deal with the hurt, the sooner you can begin to forgive those who hurt you.

Take time for soul care. God is the Great Physician, so don’t neglect your personal walk with Him. Spend time praying and reading His Word. If you don’t feel comfortable in your old church and are hesitant to start attending a new one, seek out a few trusted Christians you can continue to meet with, or even just one other person. Give yourself time to heal.

Get back up and try again. Some Christians have walked away from the church altogether. I encourage you not to give up on corporate worship. Despite its imperfections, the church is God’s design for Christians. “Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself” (Eph. 2:20, NLT).

If you’ve been hurt by the church, it may take time to return to Christian fellowship, but we at Just Between Us (JBU) want to help you start to heal. Peruse these articles by Christians who have been where you are. Take hope from their stories, knowing you’re not alone.

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