Sarah and Aubryn walking

On Tuesday, we talked about being hurt by the church. The bottom line is this:

Jesus was the only person who was ever without sin. The people who make up the church body are not Jesus. Therefore, we can conclude that those in the church body are going to sin.

People always, always let us down because we’re disabled by the flesh. This includes those within the church.

But sometimes, we feel a nudge to leave the church we have been attending. If this is the case, then I would recommend these two steps:

1. Pray like crazy. Ask God if He wants you to be the change or if He is releasing you to a different congregation. My husband and I prayed for a year before it became obvious that God was nudging us elsewhere.

2. Talk to someone in church leadership and lovingly tell them you will no longer be attending. I know this can be scary and somewhat intimidating but do not skip this step! So often, church leadership sees people quietly leave out the back door only to never return, leaving  the people of the church wondering what went wrong. Even if there is conflict, it’s still wise to let the church know you will be leaving.

3. Pray for the church you are leaving. Regardless of where we actually go to church, we are all one body of believers. The people in the church you’re leaving are still your brothers and sisters in Jesus. Even if you leave on not-so-great terms, you still need to pray for them . . .

If you leave your church because of conflict or hurt, you will likely need some time to heal and lick those wounds. Here are five ways to heal after you’ve been hurt by the church:

1. Exhale. It’s OK to be in a period of rest, particularly if the situation was emotionally taxing. Step back and allow yourself some time to process.

2. Ask God to heal your heart and protect it from bitterness. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:15) Bitterness is poison to the soul and it isn’t from God. If you feel bitter towards the church, your bitterness might intentionally or unintentionally spread to others – particularly those who are young in their faith. And I don’t know about you but when I feel bitter about something, it feels like I’m carrying around a 55 ton weight . . .

3. Get in the Word. Daily. When you’ve been hurt, it’s crazy important to remind yourself of God’s truth. Remember: people can change and shift, but God is the God who was and is and is to come – meaning He’s the same as He was yesterday, is the same today, and will be the same tomorrow. Likewise, His word is the bullet you need to blast any lies you might be believing right on out of the water. If you need a good daily reading resource, I am loving this chronological Bible:

4. Process with a mature believer and/or a trained counselor. Mature believers tend to have good scriptural knowledge and how to apply them to daily life. Don’t turn it in to a gossip session but share your thoughts and emotions so he or she can help you sort out what you’re feeling. Emotions are rarely dependable and can sometimes be based on lies. The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Lastly, there is no shame ever in getting counseling. Ever. I am a HUGE proponent of counseling so if you think you need to talk to one, go talk to one. 

5. Forgive. This is crazy important because it’s an unforgiving heart that leads to bitterness (see number one!) Forgiveness is not for them – it’s for you. If you need help with this, my friend Tracie wrote an amazing book called 31 Days of Forgiveness: {through the eyes of grace} She has an incredible story and knows all about the importance of forgiveness by experience.

Have grace with yourself, friend. Sometimes we get hurt by specific people in the church but if we allow those people to make us bitter towards the body, Satan claims a victory. In due time, you will know when it’s time to visit other churches. God desires for us to live in community with the body and He knows we are all disabled by the flesh – there WILL be conflicts. Luckily, there’s grace.

Don’t give Satan that victory.

hurt by church quote