Check out these helpful tips from fellow Christians struggling with the same issue!
This is a question I’ve struggled with off and on over the years. I’ve met some amazing, kind-hearted, funny, and God-loving people at the churches I’ve attended. Unfortunately, I’ve also run into people who have said careless things, made me feel less-than, and straight-up told me to step down from ministry because of a health condition. It hurt more than words could express to leave youth ministry and tell my high school girls I wouldn’t be their leader anymore. And all because of health issues!
My story is just one of many. It’s easy to blame the church for the pain a few members caused, or even Christianity as a whole. From there, it’s a slippery slope into blaming God and walking away from the Church altogether. Many Christians struggle with the harm done, whether accidentally or intentionally, by the church. Let’s take a look at some of their stories and what their advice is on learning to trust the church again.
These answers are from Ebible.com, an interactive community of Christians from all denominations and walks of life. One amazing feature on Ebible is the ability to ask and answer questions. View the original discussion here!
S. Michael Houdmann, Got Questions Ministry
The pain caused by a church is a “silent killer” because of what it does deep in the fabric of the mind, heart, and soul of the wounded. If not dealt with, it will destroy future happiness, joy, and well-being. Recognize that the behavior that brought such devastation to your heart is not much different than the hurt any of us can encounter in the workplace, marketplace, or home. The difference is we don’t expect God’s people to behave like those without Christ in their lives.
It is important to turn your focus away from the people involved and the church itself and identify the root cause of your pain, turmoil, and disillusionment. Honestly identify what you are feeling. If you are like most people, here are some possibilities: anger, sorrow, disappointment, rejection, hurt, jealousy, vulnerability, fear, rebellion, pride, shame, embarrassment, or loss. Find out what is at the core of your hurt-not what someone said or did to you, but what is really causing your pain? Then search the Scriptures to discover what God says about it. Take a Bible concordance and look up each word and read, think, pray, and apply the verse. For example, you may think that you are angry when in reality you feel rejected. What does God say about rejection? He says, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5); “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3); and, “Surely I am with you always’ (Matthew 28:20).
How do we keep hurtful experiences from moving their destruction into our souls? The book of wisdom from the Bible says we must “guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” (Proverbs 4:23, NLT). We guard our hearts by carefully choosing our thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and actions. Guard your heart by refusing to dwell on what happened, refusing to focus on the people who hurt you, and refusing to belabor the weaknesses of the church. Giving up bitterness takes humility, but “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6; Proverbs 3:34).
Don’t blame God for how His children behave. Don’t abandon the church, either. There are many more dedicated, grace-filled, loving, and forgiving people than not in most churches. Seek them out. Spend time with them. You can have hope because you are seeking healing from the Lord. It is now up to you to do the right thing and turn your focus to the Person who will truly transform your life above and beyond this hurt.
Michael Tinsley, Retired Vetran
Being ‘burnt’ by the church you attended was probably done by only a few people, not the whole congregation. You gave no details but, if some people in the church said hurtful things or accused you of something, it is most likely a legalistic church which doesn’t understand Jesus freed us from the law. We no longer live as if we are ‘governed’ by the law because we are under God’s grace instead, Romans 6:14.
Michael correctly pointed out that being bitter toward someone who wronged you doesn’t hurt them at all but, if you keep dwelling on it, it will continue to hurt you so, turn it over to Jesus because He is in total control and He will ease your mind and feelings. Forgive the people who hurt you because the Lord forgave you (and all of us) and He will heal you.
Find a church where God’s grace is taught and you will soon choose not to remember what happened before since you will be in the midst of loving, kind, and humble people. They will teach you of God’s mercy, grace, and love and show you how to let Jesus be your guide through His indwelling Holy Spirit.
Ainsley Chalmers, Medical Research Scientist
I gave my heart to Christ about 40 years ago and have tried to follow and love Him faithfully the last 40 years with many failings and a few successes on my spiritual journey. God has always been faithful over this period and has gently led me on despite my many faux pas.
If my faith had depended on Christians that I had met in the early years of my walk with God then I would have given up within 6 months of my commitment to Him. In time, I came to realize that Christians were as fallible as I was and am. By the same token many Christians were very helpful in my spiritual maturation over many years.
To summarize, we primarily look to and follow Christ and not put our faith in fallen humankind.