Church Hurt? Me Too.

 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. - 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15

Have you ever experienced what many call “church hurt”? Well if you haven’t then you just haven’t been around church enough. It happens. Church hurt comes in many forms. It hurts when people move away. It hurts when people decide to leave the church for another local church. It hurts when people gossip. It hurts when people claim to be excluded or left out. It hurts when church members disagree on trivial matters to the point of division. It hurts when people claim to not be cared for and loved, and the list goes on.
I would argue that pastors and ministry leads have experienced it more than others. Yep, I too have experienced church hurt. In my experience, it was caused either by my unrealistic expectations of others or other’s unrealistic expectations of me.

The problem with “church hurt” is we often allow the enemy to use it against the bride of Christ. We get consumed by it and allow it to cause divisions among us and in turn, it hurts our witness of the Gospel to those around us. We need to be careful with what we call “church hurt” and not let our emotions sit on the throne of our hearts instead of Jesus. Here are a few considerations when we feel that “church hurt”.

None of us are perfect. I have heard the old saying that if we found the perfect church we couldn't join because we would ruin it. The church is made up of people who sin. Although our sins are covered by Christ we are still in our sinful flesh and our pride and self righteousness often creep in. And that goes for all of us, not just those that may have hurt you.

The church can’t be everything that everyone wants. Here is what I mean by that. Everyone has an idea of what church should be and do and it is simply impossible to be all of that for everyone. Many people feel hurt because things are not just the way they like them. Things such as, why don’t we have this ministry, or support that mission, or why don’t you preach on this topic? It is simply impossible to do and be what everyone wants. To be honest I could name some things about our church that I don’t like but praise God it ain't about me! It is about Jesus and His glory, not ours.

We are all growing toward maturity in Christ. Just as none of us are perfect we all are being sanctified. Some are more mature than others and with that, grace should be extended. Often church hurt comes from being immature in our walk as a believer, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. We just didn’t know what we didn’t know. We all were infants at one time and it took time along with The Holy Spirit, God’s Word, and, guess what, the Church to help us grow in our maturity as a christian.

So what should we do when “church hurt” comes? Here is my advice. Commit, don’t quit! If the church is committed to the Gospel we should commit to the church. All too often when we feel that hurt our tendency is to pull away. The Bible tells us just the opposite. We should lean in. Paul says in 1 Thess. 5 that we should admonish, encourage, help, and be patient with others and seek to do good to others. This takes commitment. It takes effort. It requires us to put our pride aside and step in not walk away. It also requires us to commit to receiving admonishment, encouragement, help, and patience. Who wouldn’t want that? Commit to come a little early Sunday mornings, attend a Life Group, serve in one of our ministries, pray for the church, and be the one to initiate conversations with people you don’t know.

I believe that we all could claim a little “church hurt” but there is no other place like it. The next time we are feeling hurt let us consider our reasons. Let us consider that despite our brokenness, pride, sinfulness, selfish desires, and expectations, Jesus does not exclude us or abandon us. Instead, He draws near and loves us. Let's be more like Jesus!

I sure love our church!

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