Hurt n’ Church

I read a FB post about how important it is for Christians to be careful how they treat non believers; especially when it comes to correcting wrongdoing. I have to say that it is also as important to be mindful of how we treat other Christians. Just as much damage can be done there! 

I hate to say it but to be perfectly honest, I used to get annoyed when I heard about Christians getting upset and leaving church over something that offended them. That’s not exactly what I’m talking about because offense and hurt aren’t necessarily the same thing, but still… I always thought that they should be less easily offended and more understanding. Not only that but; it’s not God’s fault! But, I have a different heart these days for people who have been hurt by others who call themselves Christians. Because I’m one of them!

I love the Lord with all my heart and no amount of hurt caused by others will change that. That being said, I’m leery to fully commit to a church again. I hate this; especially because I know in my heart that the actions of few don’t speak for the body as a whole. 

Do you have an experience with Christians that has negatively impacted you and how did you get past it?

22 thoughts on “Hurt n’ Church

  1. Lisa Oakes says:

    Someone once gave me great advice on hurt in the church/from Christians. If someone that you know to absolutely be a Christian hurts you, assume they didn’t mean to. Most Christians or people for that matter set out to hurt someone intentionally. I am a Christian and I mess up daily. I am sure I hurt people and don’t mean to and am probably unaware that I have. I used to get hurt a lot. I’m sensitive and can be insecure, so I can get hurt easily. After months of therapy, losing people that I love, many rounds of Griefshare, and taking care of my Mom for 2 years, I learned that I put a lot of expectations on people to do things for me all the while not communicating my needs. I have slowly learned that people don’t truly know what you want or need. Sometimes there are rare people that are so plugged in that they know before you know, but for the most part people are clueless. I also learned that some people just don’t have it to give emotionally and that it is unfair to expect something from someone that they don’t have to give. Being in a season where I feel VERY alone and very unsettled, I have had to learn to communicate my needs. I still fail, but taking expectations off people and just loving them for who they are shortcomings and all has given me peace and my relationships work a whole lot better. Being that the church is made up of imperfect human beings, there is bound to be hurt. Churches are usually filled with hurting people and hurting people hurt people. Sad, but true. That’s my 2 cents worth. Love you!

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    • I agree with so much of what you said!
      That being said, I think that I have very little expectation of people. It has little to do with wanting people to do things for me. I am not good at letting people “do” for me. It’s more hurt of feeling like people just don’t care. There aren’t a bunch of specific instances where people let me down, it’s more about feeling insignificant in general. It’s about my kids. Its about so much more but that’s for another time. Just taking baby steps here. Thank you so much for your perspective and insight. I always appreciate it! I love you so much.

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    • Lauren says:

      This has taken a personal toll on me. I’m not sure how deep to get into it..I definitely evaluated my stance and take responsibility for my feelings on the matter of what happened. I was hurt and very angry. I was not the only one to recognize the wrongful words that were used on the matter. They were and are my friends who are apart of the church who recognized that something was said by the pastor to the whole congregation in the wrong way and immediately brought to this to the attention of the pastor. I was taken back to have a sit down and was apologized to and explained that also pastors are human and for some reason it was the only sermon that he had made these hurtful judge mental unloving statements in these ways and that this is a way that if we let it that Satan uses a seed to grow and cause disruption in lives etc…I knew that in my heart a long with a lot of other things I was fighting emotionally. I immediately forgave but to this day I still am trying to remember forgiveness something still isn’t sitting well with me. Forgive me if I’m wrong but as a pastor if he knew that he had made a horrible mistake in his words to a whole congregation and spread a misconception to people to love in a judging and misunderstanding manner to say the least. He apologized to me and few other people should he have not corrected his mistake to the whole church? Is that not what God would have wanted? Is that what truly not allowing the seed of what Satan had planted being allowed to slowly grow now within the church that God had blessed using a nonprofit to bless many people . Are we not suppose to do Gods work with an open loving heart?Not one based out of judgement and regardless God calls us to be humble at all times I feel like that message was completely lost.

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      • So much truth and wisdom in your comment Lauren. This is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. It goes deeper than just being offended. It’s about truly caring for people the way Jesus commands us to. No, no one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. Forgiveness is necessary. All that being said, we still need to be mindful of our words and actions because they can cause hurt that leave big scars on our hearts. I love you Lauren!

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  2. Heidi Hendrickson-Thompson says:

    Hi Joni, great topic! I have not personally experienced hurt from the church directly, however my grown daughter and her family has. She has an interracial marriage and 3 children. We live in a small rural town in lower Alabama. They’ve attended a small country church and we’re very active in helping with the youth activities and church family functions. There have been multiple situations where they’ve been made to feel unwelcome to certain events, depending on which families home an event was being hosted. Also my grandchildren have been told by other children in the church, about how the true feeling of their parents and how white people aren’t supposed to marry black people. They handied it well for 3 years, but it wore on them until she finally stopped attending. They loved the Pastor and his wife, and several families were loving christians, but not all. I convinced her to at least explain herself to the Pastor and let him know why they stopped coming. She did, and he was beyond upset. I don’t know if things will change, she’s not returned yet. The kids still go to youth group, but nothing else. These Christian families, have racism and hate in their hearts and are teaching their children this hate. I pray this doesn’t keep them from ever going back to church, but I fear it may have. They still read the Bible and pray as a family, but what a rotten shame that so called Christians, push folks away from the church.

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    • Ugh. I HATE this! So many times I have seen people ruined for church because of the actions and lack of compassion from people who call themselves Christians. I will say that I am super glad to hear that the pastor reacted the way he did. I hope they are able to find a place, whether there or someone else, to call home. Thank you so much for sharing!

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  3. Amanda Clark says:

    It’s so hard to explain my reply but I’ll try LOL. I am faithful to Christ and my church. I haven’t been offended or hurt by another Christian to where it’s effected me to not go back. But I will say , there are some Christians who are TOO religious and think God can fix every single thing in this world without people having to do something to help it along. For example , when I’m having a deep grieving spell and they say , oh hunny just pray and seek the Lord , he will see you through. I already know this and with MY specific type of grief prayer can’t really give me the help I need. It will help in others ways by not in ways I hope or need. Christians who throw the Bible at others and shove scriptures down their throat , that effects me in a bad way because to me it comes across fake and non compassionate. I still attend church 17 months since Sean was killed and those who “semi annoy” “Hurt but not deep hurt “ I smile and nod and walk away. Life has changed in so many ways and I used to let people effect the way I think and act but nowadays , I can’t let that effect me because I would be more miserable than I already am. Miserable not in the sense of depressed or mad at the world and church or God but miserable in the fact this is my chosen life. The path that was chosen for me sucks but I know my God has bigger plans for me in the future and if people can’t handle that , then they are people who need a lesson in the Lord ! 💜💜💜💜💜💜

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    • I think that it effects us on a whole other level given the grief aspect and misunderstanding from those who don’t understand. Your reply encourages me to try and get back to a place where I’m not effected so deeply.

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  4. I have and what I did was remind myself that they are sinners too. No person or church is perfect can’t be perfect this side of heaven. But we all live under God’s grace. And that may mean me having to be the one showing grace and forgiveness first. Harder to do when I am the one hurting and seeking comfort however.

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    • This is so true. Forgiveness usually comes extraordinarily easy for me. I guess the issue for me is that I thought I had put all that behind me. But that can’t truly be the case if it keeps popping back up. That has to be God’s way of showing me its time to really deal with it. Thank you for sharing!

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  5. Insignificant! That’s the key word! I think the main reason for small groups in larger churches is to at least attempt to limit that feeling of insignificance. My experience in smaller churches, especially ones without small groups, is usually one of not being able to break into the historical church group. What I mean by that is, especially small churches in small communities are typically historical congregations. The congregation has been pretty much the same for many years with only additional members being extended family or childhood friends and/or classmates. When what I call “outsiders” come in they are very much welcomed and then forgotten. Hence, not part of the historical or family congregation. I truly believe they are oblivious to this anomaly. It’s not the intent but I believe that the more a church involves their congregation, including the outsiders, the more people will feel like they belong and not insignificant. I’ve witnessed this insignificance more times than I would like to admit. If these small efforts to “include” were seen as important I think fewer people would seek other churches or quit attending altogether. It’s about focusing on the ones who are there as much as the ones who aren’t. Inclusion into the “group/family”.

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    • You always share your heart with such beauty and grace. Thank you for sharing. I think it’s also important to note that those who “appear” to be on the “inside” can also feel insignificant. The point is, no one should feel that way! Love and miss you so much!

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      • You’re probably right! Question is, how to get inside! 😦 Love you more! I hope you’re happy and living life fantastically! <3. We should do lunch! 🙂

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  6. Susan says:

    Felt and feel that way myself, insignificant and have been hurt. As you said in another comment you think you deal with things yet they come up again so apparently it is not resolved in your innermost being. I think we put high expectations on people and they let us down but apparently if I too was doing what I think others should be doing, you or anyone else wouldn’t feel the way they/we do. Saddens me, I love you Joni and the kids, and I probably didn’t show that as I should have, part of that being, not in the inner circle as someone put it! Thankful we serve a faithful God who can restore us! Love you so much

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  7. Anna says:

    I could say so much here. Yes, I have been hurt by a couple of churches in different ways. The hows and whys of that are not important to this discussion, but your topic is how to overcome that to go to church, whether it’s returning to the church where someone hurt you or whether it’s trying a new church somewhere else.

    The first time we left a church, once when we ventured back, just for a visit, not to “stay,” the very pastor who had hurt us preached on Psalm 42, verse 4 and 7 (and probably those in between, but I remembered these.)

    “These things I remember
    as I pour out my soul:
    how I used to go with the multitude,
    leading the procession to the house of God,
    with shouts of joy and thanksgiving
    among the festive throng…
    Deep calls to deep
    in the roar of your waterfalls;
    all your waves and breakers
    have swept over me.”

    Yes, the hurt was still there, and no, this didn’t lessen it, but it was still God speaking to me through His word. I did remember going to church with my friends there – not with shouts of joy perhaps, but with deep gratitude, and yes, I had enjoyed church there, and enjoyed being with my friends.

    That became one of my motivations for finding a new church – remembering the good at the old church. I wanted to find that kind of sweet fellowship again. I knew it existed, because I had seen it, felt it before, tasted it before, and I wanted it again.

    There is also another couple of verses that deeply resonates with me, Hebrews 10:24-25:

    “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

    We do vastly need encouragement from each other, and especially during hard times, and very especially as “the Day” approaches. We need each other. If you don’t need someone else’s encouragement in church at this time in your life, then there is someone in church that needs encouragement from you. These are dangerous days that we live in, and the encouragement of others can breathe hope and life and strength and conviction and courage into us to do the right things even in the difficult times. And, as perhaps some are too fond of pointing out: this is a command. Later on, this dear verse was chosen to be the byword and focal point of a ministry that I was involved with, and the point of that was to encourage each other, “to spur one another on to love and good deeds.”

    So, those were my motivations – to find the sweet fellowship that I missed, to encourage others and be encouraged, to fulfill a command.

    We attended a good sweet church after that, had to move out of state, and began at a third church. And those church experiences, beautiful ones, I wouldn’t have missed for anything. I’m so glad I went back. But eventually, yes, after 20 years, even the 3rd church hurt us, in a different way than the first church.

    And again, we have found a new church, and I can add to my list of motivations to return to church. For our kids. Because I want as many people as possible to speak deeply into their lives about faith in God, so that if one day, they don’t listen to me, maybe one of those people will resonate with them.

    Alright, so those are my motivations for trying again. And now: how to get over the pain of being hurt by a church? Well, I don’t have a magic formula. I wish I did. Part of it is acknowledging what happened, without just sweeping it under the rug. Part of it is figuring out whether I did anything to contribute to the problem, or whether I could have been part of the solution, and coming to a new understanding. Part of it is walking with God through the mess – still reading His word, still looking to Him for guidance, still resting in Him, and trusting in Him either for healing and reconciliation with the old church, or for peace and new relationships at a new church. And part of it, I am sure, is just time. Our emotions over something that hurts so deeply don’t change quickly – but they can change. Even as we left, the second time around, we tried to be grateful for the good that we’d seen there, and we tried to meet with and bless – bless, not argue – with people that we loved there.

    Part of that attitude came from the first time we left a church. It took us years to figure out that we’d thrown out so much good along with the bad. And that, while it was painful, yes, we still needed that good that had been done to us and in us to be a part of our souls. We needed it also for the work that was ahead of us.

    So, the second time that we left a church, we wanted to take some of its goodness, good memories, good lessons learned along with us, deep in our souls, rather than just rejecting the good along with the bad. We made a point to remember the good, and to talk with our kids, not only about the reasons we were leaving, but also about the good things that had happened there.

    Both times that we have left churches, I felt as if God were speaking to me through His word about the issues involved there – very gently, very persistently healing my heart, giving me greater understanding and yes, greater peace.

    I also found it helpful to reach out to those Christians whom I loved and trusted and knew well who were not in the mess with me – Christians from other churches. They offered reassurances, grace, and little bits of wisdom here and there.

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  8. Your words express exactly the point: “I know in my heart that the actions of few don’t speak for the body as a whole.” Religion, understood as any confession and not just Christianity, is often being used as just another excuse for a powerful minority to abuse on others such as race, sex, sexual orientation, social class… It is then when religious fanatism starts which has nothing to do with someone’s personal faith, that is, your case and many people’s. The Catholic Church became an ally of Franco’s dictatorship in Spain but, at the same time, there was a Catholic community against the regime.

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