I have been Hurt By Church, What do I do: A Pastor's Story

I have been Hurt By Church, What do I do: A Pastor's Story

Have you been hurt by a church?  Have you experienced a church closure, a church split, or have been part of a church where the leadership has had a moral or ethical failure?   If so, you may have some anger, hurt, deep disappointment, or even bewilderment.   You may feel conflicted and unsure how to respond.  

Are you feeling at a loss on how to take the next step?

I have been there.  As a Pastor for over 20 years, my reflections come from both my experience helping congregants struggling with hurt, and working through a handful of incidents that were personally painful.  

I have felt hurt by the church multiple times, and have experienced the full spectrum of emotions.

For one, I was kicked out of Bible school for playing a harmless practical joke.  Later in my career, without notice, I was asked to resign from a church because new leadership was coming in.  I have been a part of church splits.  And, I have experienced close friends in leadership turn on me.  

All these experiences were painful;  but I have learned how to move forward, not allowing bitterness to take away from my love for Jesus and His church.  I can still remember the hurt, but don’t feel the pain.   

Today, I still love Jesus and His church.  

Working through painful events is complicated with so many layers and angles to consider.  This article will help you in that journey by looking at a few elements involved in the healing process:

  • The importance of forgiving, even when you’re still in pain. 
  • The church’s humanity. 
  • An Encouragement to not give up on church. 

Church has been a central part of many people's lives for centuries, providing a sense of community, belonging, and spiritual growth. However, the unfortunate reality is that, like any human institution, the church is not immune to imperfections, mistakes, and even harmful behavior.

If you have been hurt by the church, whether through betrayal, abuse, or disappointment, it's understandable to feel disillusioned, angry, or resentful. However, it's important to not let your hurt define your relationship with the church or with Jesus. 

Instead, you can take a few steps toward healing and finding a Body of believers where you can grow spiritually, relationally, and emotionally. 

Forgive (Even When it Still Hurts) 

This is hard.  Take encourgement in knowing that Jesus knows how you feel.  He was repeatedly mistreated by the religious leaders;  and ultimately, they were behind Governor Pontius Pilate's judgment to crucify Jesus.

Forgiveness is the first step towards healing

Forgiveness does not mean forgetting or excusing the harm that has been done to you; nor does it mean reconciling with those who have hurt you if they are not willing to take responsibility and make amends.

Instead, forgiveness is a choice to release the anger and bitterness that may be weighing you down and preventing you from moving forward.

Forgiveness is not easy, and it may require time, counseling, and surrendering this to your Heavenly Father through prayer.

However, the benefits of forgiveness are many, including greater emotional well-being, stronger relationships, and a deeper sense of grace and mercy.

Remember the Church's Humanity

Another important step is to recognize the humanity of the church. The church is not an entity unto itself, but rather a collection of diverse individuals with different backgrounds, beliefs, and experiences.

While some church members may have hurt you, it's important to remember that they are not the entirety of the church, nor do they represent the true heart of Christianity.

The church, like any community, is imperfect and flawed; but it is also capable of great love, compassion, and service.

By seeing the humanity of the church, you can avoid falling into the trap of blaming the church as a whole for the actions of a few.

Don't Give up on Church

Finally, it's important to not give up on the church altogether, but to seek out a healthier community that aligns with your values and needs.

Not all churches are the same;  many churches prioritize transparency, authenticity, and accountability. 

Look for a church that openly acknowledges its imperfection and promotes healthy relationships and the well-being of its members. Be willing to ask tough questions, set clear boundaries, and seek support from trusted friends, family members, or counselors.

Remember that your journey toward healing and growth is unique and that it may take time to find the right community for you.

What to do Next?

1: Ask God to help you forgive the person or people in the church that hurt you.  You don’t necessarily need to go to them but take the burden to God and release these people in your heart.       

Say the words, “Father, I have been hurt by (person’s name) because he/she (what happened).  Please heal my heart.  I forgive (person’s name) and release him/her to you.”               
If you begin to feel any sort of bitterness or resentment, pray again as many times as you need.                           

2: Everyone has shortcomings - even the spiritual leaders we can tend to put on pedestals.  Take time to look at your own shortcomings, and humanity, so you can develop more compassion for those who have hurt you.  Pray for them, knowing that hurt people hurt people.                     

3: Make a decision to not give up on church.  It may take a season to visit various churches to find one that is authentic, healthy, and has appropriate accountability.  Look for a church where the leadership is humble and transparent about their humanity.  You may not see these qualities on the first visit, but ask questions.  Most people will be happy to share information about their church.  

Takeaway

Being hurt by the church can be a painful and confusing experience. It's important to not let your hurt control your relationship with the church or with God.

By choosing to forgive, seeing the humanity of the church, and seeking out a healthier community, you can move towards a place of healing, growth, and renewed faith.

Remember that God's love, healing, and grace are available to you, regardless of your experiences with the church; and that your journey toward wholeness is worth pursuing.  

Do you want to learn more about the Bible or how to become a Christian?

Check out these articles:

  1. Bible Recap 101: Your Essential Guide to the Bible's Core Storyline
  2. How to Become a Christian in 2 Life-Saving Steps
  3. 1-Year Bible Reading Series for Healthy Living

Are you looking for a church? 

Check out these articles:

  1. 3 Essential Beliefs All Christian Churches Share
  2. 6 Tips for Choosing the Right Church For You

Do you live in the Concord, NH area?  We invite you to check us out. Grace Capital Church is located at 542 Pembroke Street in Pembroke, NH. 

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