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How to Deal With Wounding In the Church

Wounding in the church is bound to happen at some point. No church is perfect. Here is how to respond and how to move on to a place of healing and wholeness. #WomenLivingWell #OnlineBibleStudy #Church

Insults hurt from those outside the church but inside the church, the wounding can hurt so much more deeply.  The reason is because the church is meant to be a safe place.

Over the years, I have experienced my deepest wounds from my church family. I suppose it’s because I trust the people in my church and have assumed that if we are all following God’s Word, wounding should not happen.  But it does. Why? Because the church is filled with sinners and the reality is we fail each other.

Sadly, I have been naive at times and too trusting.  I have assumed good in people who were not as good as I thought.  I have lived life with arms wide open and as a result I’ve allowed myself to get stabbed in the back – and front.

A wise person once encouraged me by using the analogy of a Fitness Center.  No one joins a Health Club and expects to walk in the first day and find perfectly fit people.  If we see someone terribly out of shape and not using the equipment that isn’t the gym’s fault.  The gym is filled with all types. They are there for different reasons and at different levels of fitness.  Some want to be healthy or lose weight. Others need a place to belong or attention, to be seen as beautiful or to find a date.  Some are young, some are old.  Some are leaders, some are followers.  Some seem to know everyone in the gym while others are newbies and clearly look uncomfortable in their skin.

In the same way, when we enter our church doors, we should expect to find people of all kinds.  They are there for different reasons.  Some are there to hear God’s word, grow spiritually and serve. Others think of it more as a club for get togethers or to find a guy.  Some are studying deep theology while others prefer to avoid anything deep.  Some are looking for relief and a safe place to fall while others are looking for attention. Some are young, some are old. Some are leaders, some are followers. Some have been there forever and know everyone and others are new and uncomfortable.

We all have different personality types, family backgrounds, church backgrounds, sensitivities from our past, talents, giftedness, dreams, goals, fears and trials.

So as we come together – if we do not have humility and love —we clash like cymbals.

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” ~1 Corinthians 13:1

And when we clash it is not pretty.

It hurts.

Here’s How to Deal With Wounding In the Church

This is what the Lord has taught me thus far…

1.) It’s okay to cry but after we dry our tears, we must release the hurt to the Lord.

2.) Think more about what Christ has done FOR us and less about what others have done TO us.

3.) Do not seek revenge.  Christ paid on the cross for all of our sins and all of the sins done to us.  Leave the sin of others, at the cross for God to deal with.

4.) Moving on is an ongoing process.  When we see this person’s face, we may struggle again to forgive – we may have to continue to fight to forgive over and over and over.

“Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21,22

Moving on is not:

1.) Necessarily a response to an apology.  They may never be sorry.

2.) Denying or minimizing what happened.   It hurt and it was very real and Christ died a horrible death to cover it.

3.) Trust or reconciliation.  It takes two to reconcile.  When no acknowledgement of the pain they have caused you comes, this leaves an open wound that only Christ can fill.

What if we don’t move on?

1.) Bitterness will grow in our hearts.

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” Ephesians 4;1

All means ALL in this verse.

2.) Our true character is revealed.

“with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”  Ephesians 4:2,3

Unity is not just for those who think and act and look just like us -that is self-idolatry.  We are to work to MAINTAIN the unity of  all of those in the church.

So how do we handle criticism when it comes?

1.) Examine your own life, your motives, your intentions, your heart and compare it with the accusation. Is there any chance you have a blind spot that this person is pointing out to you?

2.) Consider, is the problem a personality difference, theological difference, philosophical difference or a result of sin?

We see in Acts 15 theological differences worked out.  We also see philosophical differences in the friendship of Paul and Barnabas.  These Godly men sharply disagreed and as a result separated.

36 After some time Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit each city where we previously preached the word of the Lord, to see how the new believers are doing.” 37 Barnabas agreed and wanted to take along John Mark. 38 But Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in their work. 39 Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus. – Acts 15:36-39

3.)  Grow thick skin.  As Ephesians 4:2,3 says – bear with each other in love.  Sometimes we simply have to put up with and tolerate a person that rubs us the wrong way, for the sake of unity.

The lesson I have learned from my wounds.

My wounds have changed me.

One temptation is to become jaded.  To wonder if putting myself out there is worth the hurt.  It makes me want to crawl in my bed, cover my head with my covers and never come out again.  It makes me want to push everyone away and never trust anyone with my heart again. This is what the enemy wants – a severely wounded, jaded Christian – unable to serve or love again.

But God…God spoke into my darkness and reminded me…

He is sovereign and in control.  Though I was surprised by this wound – God was not.  God allowed this situation in my life for a reason.  God is taking me deeper in with Him – to trust Him more. To love Him more. To change me – not into a jaded person but into a compassionate person who identifies with the wounds of others.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” ~ 2 Corinthians 1:3,4

Friends, don’t waste your wounds.  Use them to comfort others. So many are hurting.  I pray you allow God to heal your wound and then turn it around into a ministry for God’s glory.  That’s how we triumph over the enemy!

 Walk with the King,

Courtney

 When You are Wounded by the Church – Part 2

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154 Comments

  1. Wow. I’ve been reading your blog for about 2 years and I’ve never commented before. But your post was my answered prayer. I’m currently struggling with a church relationship of mine and I’ve been asking God for my answer about how to handle this without growing bitter. Thank you, Courtney, for writing this. And thank you, Jesus, for working through you to write this. This post was written at the perfect time for me and I’m so very grateful. God work in mysterious ways!

    1. Thank you for writing this. I too have been deeply hurt by the church. God Bless you for sharing. You helped me more than you know.

    2. Thank you Courtney, even I am also helped by your blog just at the right time, as I have been wounded deeply by the enemy through church! But the verse quoted by you not only helped me but filled new energy and built a new relationship with Lord, as before typing to find the solution for my hurt on google I prayed to Lord to talk to me. Thank you Lord for Your faithfulness , love , support and Grace!!!!
      God bless you Courtney!
      Keep me in prayers. Thanks!

  2. I’ve found over the years I get way more support from unbelievers than believers. I’ve given birth to 7 children and have not attended much in the past couple of of years due to health and not having a car to get there. One day it occurred to me that no one had ever as much as called me on any occasions. These are people I have supported for 20 years thru their weddings and births etc. and it really made me wonder what our churches are made of these days to be honest.

    1. Michelle,

      I’m so very sorry for the hurt you have faced. It’s terrible to feel forgotten – especially when you know you have given generously. I encourage you to not give up on the church. It is God ordained and meant to be a blessing in the believers life. I don’t want you to miss this blessing. Keep on loving even when others let you down. God loves you so very much.

      Courtney

      1. Courtney, I am so enjoying the wonderful leadership and teaching you are giving. I am telling other ladies to go online and find you. I will be a breakout speaker for a women’s gathering soon, and will encourage them to find your site online. About being hurt—-it helps to remember that Jesus received the ultimate hurt and betrayal. Remember that Jesus was FALSELY ACCUSED, yet he said: ” Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” Being falsely accused is the WORST, or slander or criticism that is not true. Many times, however, I believe women might say something hurtful to you or about you out of jealousy. I have had one women hardly look at me…..and I never have known what the problem is, so I just greet her deliberately anyway. Hebrews 12:1-4 is really helpful to me. —-Keep up the good work! Anita.

  3. Such good timing on this one. While I experienced this myself many years ago, never reconciled after repeated attempts on my part, I’m watching a friend go through it now and see the bitterness setting in and no desire to maintain unity. There were faults on both sides of her situation and I think she’s more affected by how unaffected the other party seems to be. I’ve been praying for the words to say to her and this is so very helpful. I’m sorry to hear you’ve experienced it as well.

  4. This was such a moving article to read and such an unexpected blessing. I have never had my heartbroken until I left my home church a few years ago. I grew up in this church and as a young 20-something prayed about and decided to leave it behind. It was the result of an issue between the then Pastor and myself that unfortunately resulted in the congregation “siding” with him and turning their back on me under the impression that I just needed time and would be back. I have prayed non-stop about going back to worship at church, but I have been too terrified to bring myself to go try different churches on Sunday morning. It is something I struggle with all the time

    1. Jennifer – I’m so sorry for the hurt you have faced. Please do not leave the church on the account of a group who have not followed God’s Word to love you. There is a church out there perfect for you where you will thrive spiritually and be a blessing to others as well. I encourage you to step out in faith and give a new church a try. I am praying right now God guides you to the perfect place. It’s time to enjoy the homey feeling of church once again in your life.

      Lots of Love,
      Courtney

  5. Thank you, Courtney, for this post. I am currently in a season of having been deeply wounded and wronged in the local church. I know God removed me (and my sister) for our protection. But the hurt is still real and I know it is only God that can and will heal me. I know He has a plan for me and He is calling me closer to Him during this time.

  6. I work in the church. I have been wounded over and over … people seem to think that if you work for the church, you are fair game. After all, their offerings pay your salary. I really wish that people would take just a second to put themselves in the shoes of the person they are criticizing. I can honestly say that I have always tried my very best, and no one feels worse than I do if something we do doesn’t come off quite the way we wanted (I lead music). Years and years of training and practice are routinely trashed by people with no musical knowledge whatsoever. Thank God (literally) for the people who choose to be kind! The good news is that this has taught me how important it is to be kind to others who are working, whether behind the cash register, or over the phone, or whatever. I LOVE the church! But it has been a hard place to be at times, and I find that to be sad.

    1. It’s so true. I have worked in several churches and it’s so sad to see all the criticism the staff would face….lots of Monday morning calls and emails, right?

    2. I’ve been directing music as a volunteer for the last 8 years at our church. Most people don’t claim to know much about music, but everyone has an opinion in spite of that. The less they actually help with the music ministry, it seems the more opinions they have. I struggle with anger over all the silly complaints, but I’m trying to learn to let it go. This was a really helpful article.

    3. Sara,
      Wow, can I relate. As a church secretary I, too, have been deeply hurt by those in the church who continually offer “constructive criticism” and seldom, if ever, offer words of affirmation or appreciation. Most people in the congregation have no idea how many things we do and how many hours we put into our jobs, often extra hours that are uncompensated. We do what we do because we are called to this ministry, not because the pay is great! I continue to
      pray that I can use this opportunity to grow and mature rather than let the seeds of bitterness take root.

    4. This rings true with me also. I work in a church as a pastor, and I have an obligation to put as good a construction on other people’s words as I can. It can be scarring when they don’t do that with mine.

  7. Thank you for not only sharing why, but how to deal with this. It’s prevelant and I wish it were said in all churches on a Sunday morning.

    1. P.S. I was hurt from my home church in a way that could have been on the news. Children were involved and I was so tempted to fight. I left church all together for two years and never felt as though I was sinning for being out of a church. Some of my closest friends thought I was in sin, which hurt as well. I felt like Job and asked God why he allowed it, but never lost my faith. God restored me, gave me a heart of forgiveness which has brought me above the clouds with peace of mind, and he’s given us a new church fellowship. One of the things that I had a hard time with was that country club church mentality. I vowed I would never go to church in an inviornment in that light. I also prayed for a church were my children would grow spiritually. God moved us far to get us there. My kids now look forward to going where as before they cried coming out. By faith, I got in my car and drove to find the church. I knew it was a new beginning. I always tell people that there is no perfect church, but you should be in a healthy church where you will grow. I would never encourage my sister to go back to an abusive marriage where she was very much in danger spiritually and physically and emotionally. Therefore, if there is a church where satan has caused so much division, and sin is spreading like Cancer and the birds that are nesting in the branches are allowed to be in leadership, then come out from among them like Luther did. God wants to reform your life. But don’t I repeat don’t leave bitter. Forgive and pray for them.

      1. Nettie –

        Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. It is so encouraging to hear how years later God has brought you through this trial and you all have found a safe church where you are growing.

        Beautiful testimony of beauty from ashes. Thank you.

        Lots of Love,
        Courtney

        1. I just want to say I joined a church a few years ago, because the one I was raised in was not in any way fulfilling, and at first, I was amazed at the difference. They helped me financially through a tough period, and then they even surprised me with a car when I lost mine. The thing is, the car was already bought, from a dealer I did not know, and I wasn’t really given a say. I took it, and from the time I drove it off the lot, I knew things were wrong, even though I was told it had been checked out. I told a friend, who had actually been involved, that I wish it all had been handled differently, she took it as in insult to the Pastor, which it was not, and got mad at me, unfriended and blocked me on Facebook, and has ignored my emails trying to talk and clear the air. Since then, even though I know many, many of the members are good people and welcoming to me, I have felt off, uncomfortable, and also have been wrestling with my singleness and how isolated I feel anyway, and have stopped going to church altogether, at least for now. It has been hurtful though, because I need church, and community, but many just don’t understand how I really feel inside.

  8. I just want to thank you for the brave posts you share, for listening to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and bravely baring your soul to the benefit and blessing of those who need it. I have benefited from your blog and have been having an absolute blast using your highlighting method ( I still need to hit my knees more often, but I never felt “free” to highlight my Bible before, so thank you for that!). I have a great appreciation for your heart and the ministry you have. I could go on and on (I have actually commented a few times but delete them without posting) but I just wanted to say thank you and I hope you know what a blessing you are to others. May God bless you.

    1. Jen – thank you for not deleting your comment this time and actually hitting the “post comment” button 😉 . It was a blessing to hear from you.

      Lots of Love,
      Courtney

  9. Courtney, thanks for writing this. I’ve just experienced another wound from someone who has wounded me before and I’m really hurting now. I can relate to what you said about how we are surprised by the wounds, but God is not. I say this because God had put these verses from 2 Corinthians in my path just this past Saturday morning at our Women’s Ministry gathering – and now here again in your post. I know He was aware of what was about to take place and gave me these verses to remind me that I can find comfort in Him.

    I can’t go into details here, but I would ask for your prayers for the healing of my heart. This is a relationship that I desire to continue. Although I do desire to continue the relationship, I am disappointed and hurt. There is repentance in the heart of the offender, and they are seeking for more of God. This is very good.

    I continue to pray for the healing of your wound too, friend.

    Walking in His Grace,
    Laurie

    1. Laurie,

      Thank you so much for openly sharing this. Sometimes we think we are alone in our struggles and as you said – the wounding and then rewounding – it can be overwhelming and hurt so badly. I feel your pain Laurie.

      Saying a prayer for you tonight.
      Lots of Love,
      Courtney

  10. Great timing! It took me being wounded to realize it was the same thing I had done to someone else. First came the hurt, then the shame for the hurt I had caused another, then thanks to the Father, humility. Thanks to Jesus for His grace!

  11. very well said! After 19 years as a pastors wife, I can’t count the wounds, but it doesn’t matter. You can choose to get bitter or get better!

    1. Rachel –

      I can’t even imagine the pain you have experienced. Sometimes there is an unfair standard for Pastor’s Wives and their children. 🙁 Thank you for persevering. I can only imagine what you have been through because I’ve watched my sister walk this same road. Keep on shining!

      Lots of Love,
      Courtney

    2. Thanks for your post. I have been a pastor’s wife for 30 plus years. You want hurt ? marry someone who is called to preach. I have longed all these years to be able to sit in church with my husband and not be in church with my husband pastor. The wife is involved in all facets of the church and they better have thick skin or their marriage won’t last. Even their desire to be in church falters.
      DISCOURAGED BUT HANGINGIN THERE WITH GRACE OF GOD. PRAY FOR ME PLEASE.

      1. My dad is a retired minister and was known as being a “fixer” which means we served some pretty messed up churches. Both he and my mom are in counseling now because of some of the horrible hurtful things said and done to them by church members (I still can’t think of some of them as Christians). Neither one of my sisters is involved with any kind of church or religion – my brother and I took some time away from church, but thank God we found spouses who have strong faith. (Though neither of us are in the denomination we grew up in)

    1. Janelle – you have been such a blessing through this trial. Thank you does not express my gratefulness enough.

      I sure am glad I’m stuck with you for eternity! Lol! And as you said – if reconciliation never comes on this side of heaven – it surely will in heaven. So grateful for the way you speak truth into my life and give me hope.

      Love you birthday twin 😉
      Courtney

  12. “He is sovereign and in control. Though I was surprised by this wound – God was not. God allowed this situation in my life for a reason. God is taking me deeper in with Him – to trust Him more. To love Him more. To change me – not into a jaded person but into a compassionate person who identifies with the wounds of others.” –> THIS is what I needed to hear and be reminded of me today as I wait for a relationship to be reconciled. Thank you!!! 🙂

  13. Love this post and needed it. I have felt so wounded in churches that we just don’t go any longer. I feel a huge pull to return, but know they will never see me as good enough (I know God is so proud of how far I’ve come as what He’s done I me totally amazes me!!!). I just have no idea how to deal with the competitive backbiting that goes on between church ladies. If I hear one more time:
    Your hair’s too short/long
    Your skirt’s too long
    You need makeup
    Can you prove you’re saved?
    . . . .
    *sigh*
    Still praying about a church for us . . . (myself and my autistic sweet 14-year-old son)

    1. Courtney,

      Thank-you for writing such a transparent article, it sure is ministering healing to so many women. I too had a difficult situation and when I read Karen’s comment I feel and relate to her pain. I have a son with autism and another that encountered severe behaviors several years ago- much of this kept us out of church for an extended period. When we finally did go back my pastor made a very rejecting comment to me. I have been working through this with the Lord and the way I see it the Lord was and remains my Shepherd through it all and he was my leader through the valley of the shadow- so what can man do to me…nothing unless I permit it. Thank you for being so open Courtney and Karen I am praying for the right church home for you and your son, one that sees both of your hearts and does not judge! Amen.

  14. I’ve been hurt by friends who say they are Christians but whose actions are anything BUT. One was my high-school best friend. I reached out to her in December…told her how exactly she hurt me and why I distanced myself from her. I told her I forgave her for hurting me…she apologized and we reconciled.

    Another ‘friend’ who was raised Catholic….was the one who befriended me while also having an affair with my husband, behind my back. I have proof of their affair. My husband admitted it to me, she denied it with every breath but I’ve got the proof to say that she’s a liar. She even went as far as to have a local police dept contact both me AND my husband to inform us to quit ‘harassing’ her. To this day I do not believe that her husband is aware of his wife’s infidelity. She is that cunning and conniving. But I’ve forgiven her. It was something that I needed to ‘let go’.

  15. I was literally in the middle of a discussion about something that just happened at our church, and came across this article. I know Christ took the pain for me at the cross, but I feel so pulled in many directions and have felt that no matter what I do my actions will now be judged even if the intent of my heart is in the right place….so timely these scriptures and this article, thank you for living and walking in the truth and having the courage to admit that hurt happens to us all- it’s about how we handle it. Thank you for your openness in your hurt because it has ministered to me and above all I want to go forward and walk in His truth and love. May The Lord continue to guide and direct that we walk in the manner worthy of our calling that we glorify Him in all we do and say. Praise The Lord -for what comfort we have knowing He is our Rock and He knows every hurt, every tear and He is using them to change us more and more into His image…from glory to glory!!

  16. What a great help this is to me Courtney! It really hit home with me and I appreciate you listing helpful suggestions how to overcome the hurt. The church is someplace where one naturally feels safe so I think people are blindsided when the church/people from church hurt them. At least I know I was. Thank you for your openness and transparency. I appreciate you! God bless.

  17. Hi Courtney,

    I love your article. This is a subject that I don’t think I’ve ever seen written or talked about so thank you for being so bold to write on this subject. I wish I had this article years and years ago. When wounds occur people’s perception of the situation can be very different. I do have one question….when does Matthew 18 come into play or does it? I was just wondering as I know this, at times, can be a tricky thing especially in regards to perceptions. Thanks again!

    Blessings
    Jamileh

    1. Hi Jamileh,

      This post was so lengthy I was not able to go into the details of seeking reconciliation but Matthew 5:23,24 says:

      ” 23″Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother”

      It is good to go to the person and pursue reconciliation. This is the heart of God for his children. My post was written with the thought in mind of the wounding that comes after we have done this and the person is unapologetic.

      But thank you for mentioning this!
      Love,
      Courtney

  18. Thank you.. There are two things. One is I have a friend that even though she is a strong Christian and has been for a while still seems like a baby christian. She showed a new front to her this year and I have actually just had to nearly completely to completely stay away from her. She has told me that what I believe in is wrong, even though the scripture is right there to back it up and is blaringly obvious. And even went as far as to insinuate that just because I have accepted Christ in my heart and firmly believe he is my savior that I can still go to hell and my decision to stay with my husband will drag me to hell. (My husband is a Christian as well) she has the mentality that she is right and anyone else that tries to show her otherwise is wrong and she makes you feel small. The other instance was when we were both working out and after I had finished with my trainer and was researching women’s experts and things they do, that I was wrong with how I worked out and I needed this. I was at a higher level and focus than she was at the time. She made me feel so small at the time and I was just stupid. Flash forward a couple months she is now with a guy trainer because she wanted to increase her level(getting to where I was). She had shattered how I was working out so much that beside the fact of me having back problems that I haven’t hit it back as hard as I can. She is an example of why people hate Christians and anytime we have tried telling her in love to change her approach on things she doesn’t want to hear it. I am in process of forgiving her even though she thinks she isn’t in wrong. But this friendship will have to be at a distance or I will move on. I pray that there will be someone that can open her eyes about what exactly she believes in that isn’t true and that she changes her approach too. There is more to this but I won’t put it.

    The other thing is, our pastor married not even a year after his wife died. His wife died around may and not even two months later he was seeing someone else. Then they were engaged and it seems not even two or three months of being engaged he is married again. I don’t know the woman, he seems happy, but I feel like I am betraying his late wife. I can’t see this new relationship as right because with how fast it came on it seemed like there may have been something before she passed away. My husband and I are struggling… the sermons given are great and incredibly understandable and you can apply them to how you need to be. The kids love going to the church and the children’s ministry. My husband and I are I guess having an issue with what happened. We felt like everyone else was blindly happy for him and fully supportive. I just found out that other people feel the same as us. His late wife was an amazing woman of God a dynamo wrapped into a petite frame and great teacher. This woman came out of nowhere and I don’t even think I have seen her at our church. I am so afraid to try another church, but I don’t want my fear to hinder us from getting the word and it’s hard to absorb when what happened at the church did happen. We are just struggling with this. We are trying not to judge and are torn. I am praying to God the right path to take and for this to resolve… sorry for typing so much….

    1. You should read what you wrote with a different set of eyes. You DONT know anything about your pastors former or current marriage relationship. Adding fuel to the fire of gossip “I don’t think I’ve seen her in church” is NOT helpful to anyone.

  19. Thanks Courtney for speaking to this issue! I have been betrayed horribly by church people and here was one of my conclusions born out of a quiet time:
    It’s not about me and what others have done to me – It’s about me and how I react to what others have done to me.

  20. Thank you for your post today, Courtney. More than once God has used you to speak to me through what you share from His Word. As I am dealing with a wound, this is just what I needed to remember.

  21. Hey Courtney! Thank you so much for this post! I imagine that everyone who has been in church for some length of time has experienced this kind of hurt and disappointment. It helps so much to know that others go through this and sharing what you’ve learned and how you are dealing with this kind of situation is such a blessing. Thank you so much for sharing!

  22. I have found that forgiving those who hurt me is the key to be able to love well. It doesn’t matter who hurt me, or if they are never repentant – forgiving them allows my heart to be free. 🙂

  23. This was very well written and from God. He taught you all of this with true wisdom to share with all of us. What a testimony through the trials that many of us can so easily relate to…I thank you for rising above all the hurt to help us and teach us what is true. Self-idolatry sentence was a wow sentence – pride sneaks in there in all of us so easily and then…division, rift, & hurt. Yuck! Lots to learn and apply. Thank you for sharing! Incredible!

  24. I wish I could have read this article 10 years ago. My preacher and most of the church (we have a small church) turned against me and my husband, even to the point of saying that we were influenced by demons (this was said by our Sunday School Leader in front of the whole church). Even though I still went to church, I felt like God had deserted me, that even He wasn’t sticking up for me. I almost lost my faith, but Praise God, he brought me through. One of the main things God had to work on me was bitterness. The other was forgiveness. Every time I thought I had forgiven them, they would say or do something else. I have now forgiven them (even though some times it still is a daily battle), but I realize that forgiving does not mean that the relationship can continue. We are still “friendly” but not friends. Thanks again for a very timely article.

  25. This same hurts occur I every day life. This is a great reminder of how we can cope with being wounded outside of church as well. Thank you for your openness.

  26. I am a mom to a little girl I love to call a hurricane. I love my daughter, but she test’s my patience day in and day out (but God gives you what he knows you can handle). When she was two, I started bringing her to Church by myself as my husband is not a fan of the Church. So with just myself and my daughter, you can imagine the stares I can get at Church sometimes. I feel people judging me each and every time I attend. It seems to be the men that I get the most stares from, or those without kids, but luckily I do get the moms sometimes who are the only ones that really understand. Sometimes, I think that I over exaggerate what other people think of me as a parent when this happens. Because, really it means I’m doing something wrong, right? I had to pray to God to help me see that the most important thing is bringing my daughter to Church each Sunday even if I get those stares (which the mirror that is mom guilt tends to magnify). Luckily, that is the most hurt I have ever felt from a Church, and is partly my own worrying that I am not a strong enough mom. I’m working on that. Though, I also have to say that I heard a wonderful sermon the other week that helped me to get over this a bit more too. I was reminded that (unintentionally) we tend to focus on the negative behavior of the people around us, and focus on our qualities that are “better” than theirs. Sometimes we need to take a step back and instead of focusing on this, look past it and force ourselves to see the good in people (which is harder when we see negativity in them), and what we need to work on in ourselves. Everyone was made in the image and likeness of God. Yes, everyone is a sinner, however there is also that part of them that God made intentionally that we need to seek out, even in times that we are hurt or wounded by them. Maybe in finding that, or seeing what made them so cross, we can help them. Maybe we can also see that there is something in ourselves that is making us feel their negativity even more, and work on that within ourselves. We can not change other people, the only thing we can do is try and help them while we work on ourselves.

  27. I so relate to this. When I was 15, I mistakenly overheard a conversation between my pastor’s wife and another friend badmouthing my father, an elder and leader in the church. The things they said absolutely devastated me and caused me to wonder if this Christianity thing is real if Christians are just as mean (if not more so) than non-Christians. That was over 20 years ago. I have encountered many other wounds since that time, but I have come to accept, as you mentioned, that we are all imperfect people coming together because of the one thing we have in common: our need for a Savior. I have learned to keep my focus on Jesus, not on people, because people will disappoint. Jesus never will.

  28. Thank you for sharing from your heart. Far too many of us have been wounded in the very same way. The perspective that the Lord has given you is timely and timeless. This post served as confirmation and added clarity for me in the many situations that I face.

  29. WOW! What a great post! Thank you so much for sharing! This week my boyfriend and I have been dealing with an issue pertaining someone in our church and I prayed on my way to work this morning ask God for help! I asked him to give me advise on what to say to help my boyfriend deal with the issue and not be so angry about it. When I arrived at work early this morning I came across an email with your post in it! It is amazing how God works and how in an instant he can use someone’s testimony or writings to help us get through! Thanks again for sharing, really helpful post!

  30. I get your posts everyday in my email but don’t always have the time to read. Today stood out like RED as I was just in prayer this morning about laying down my hurts once again at His feet. My husband and I are separated at this time but God has given me the promise of restoration so I am still waiting for the fulfillment of that promise. My SUPREME HURT is because of a woman that is attending my church, involved with and allowing my husband to live with her and is an USHER..She knows my husband is married to me and she even apologized to me for her wrong at our womans conference last year. God told me ahead of time that she and I would talk so I was prepared. I’d forgiven well before that encounter. When we returned from the conference I assumed she would do the correct thing and put my husband out of her house. NO, she came back from the conference and layed on the insult all the more. Posting pictures on facebook, inviting church members to her daughters sweet sixteen party and referring to my husband in “father/daughter” dance pic. No shame what so ever. I WAS TOO HURT! After 3 months from conference had past, I finally had to say something to my Pastor as I had told no one in the church what was going on for the past 2 years. The church dealt with it by “demoting” her in her level as usher. I felt they should have totally sat her down in terms of service but I can’t question how my pastor makes his decisions. God has strengthened me through it all and I know He has purpose for this. I continue to serve at my church with my head held high and wait on Him. As hurtful as this has been for me, His word says “those that wait on the Lord SHALL NOT be put to shame!” Isaiah 49:23. Thank you Jesus and thank you Courtney for this helpful post.

  31. I have an adult daughter who has been deeply hurt by people in the church. She had a really good relationship with one of our pastor’s sons. They were getting very close. I’m sure she was thinking she might marry him. There was a married woman in the church who’s husband was in jail. We were all friends. My daughter was friends with her and loved and cared for her family. Long story short – this married woman wooed this man away from my daughter. My husband and I could see that things were not right and I know that if this man had been the one for my daughter that he never would have left for this married woman. To this day I honestly don’t know what happened between them and don’t care. The mind games this woman played with my daughter was crazy. We left that church and things have happened to all of them that were a mess. Although it’s been 8 years and she has dealt with it all, I can tell at times that she feels like…What’s wrong with her that she’s not married. She is now 30. This guy has gone on to marry recently (someone completely different). She struggles with bitterness and it’s hard to watch.

  32. I sure wish I could have had this insight a few years ago! I’ve been wrestling with this for a while. Having a husband that worked for a church for 15+ years was difficult, however, I’ve come to the same conclusions you have; it just took me longer and I’m not as articulate as you. Thank you for exposing your heart!

  33. Courtney, Thank you so much for this post! I think there are so many who are hurting by members of their own local church and just either keep it in and let it fester, or leave – and many never return to any church. Your post is such a wonderful reminder that God is our answer, our comforter, our healer and we must always turn to Him. This post will help so many heal. Thank you!

  34. what a great post – and so true. I was hurt about 3 years ago by someone my children thought of as another grandfather. They too were hurt by this man and what he said and did to our family. It sent me into depression and counseling. But the GOOD that has come out of it all is AMAZING – he has left the church (of his own doing) and my family was surrounded by loving people. In addition, I have forgiven him though we will never reconcile (OK, never say never – we have NOT yet reconciled!) because he will not even acknowledge me still. Without that having happened I never would have gone back to school to get my Master’s in Counseling which I started this fall. GOD took the bad and has turned it into GOOD. In addition my younger son just earned his Eagle Scout rank with a different Boy Scout Troop than the one this man ran and I don’t think he would have had the support to do that with this man and the original Troop.

    SO many hurts (I really could go on and on) and yet GOD has healed my family and we have been blessed.

  35. Yes, for sure, I’ve been wounded by my church. I worked in the office so I was a member as well as an employee.

    Here’s the thing about being wounded in the church: the people, collectively, are family. The longer one has been a member, the more like family they become. In my case, biological family do not reside in my town. Church becomes even more like family. We trust family to love us, nurture us, have our back, and never ever hurt us. Well guess what? Just like biological family is imperfect in their love for us, our church family is also imperfect. We are fallen people. We sin. We knowingly and unknowingly wound each other just like family. And it takes time to heal. Sometimes it takes years. And I suppose that sometimes it never heals. In my case, I would think I was over it (the wound was an employment issue involving no wrong doing) and something would happen and BANG! I was right back there and bleeding once again. If things are made right, one might recover fully and quickly, but when they cannot be made right or are so polarizing that one side sees no wrong, it is extremely difficult to recover. Only God can soothe and heal these wounds.

    To one who has been wounded, I would say, “Don’t close yourself off to the body of Christ.” Keep serving and loving and eventually, trusting. If you can’t do that in your present church, find one where you can. It has been 20 years for me. Hasn’t been easy but I’m glad I stayed. I love these people and they DO love me. They just aren’t always perfect. Neither am I. This side of glory, we will be imperfect. Keep loving!!!

  36. Hi, I’m interested in this topic, but there was nothing in this article about unintentional/unknown hurts. Sometimes, we offend others and have no clue that it even happened. If the person who is offended does not come to the person who did it and let them know why they are hurt, that person has no opportunity to realize their offense, or to ask forgiveness. Then the offended person decides that avoidance will cause the other party to come to their senses. This behavior is not logical, nor is it biblical. His Word says that we cannot even take part in Communion if we have anything against our brother (or sister). What we’re supposed to do is immediately leave and go make it right with the other person. So, part of this forgiveness process is not just forgiving people who do not acknowledge anything wrong has happened, it’s making sure the other person knows how and why you are offended. You cannot have peace if you never make yourself clear. If after you make it clear and they still will not apologize or acknowledge your pain, well that’s a different story. The article does work well for that scenario.

  37. I cannot thank you enough for writing this article. The many sorrowful tales already posted just proves how common the problem is. We decided to leave our church when an elder persisted in bearing false witness against my husband, borne out of a deep feeling of inadequacy and longstanding jealousy. The deacons continue to protect the elder out of fear that people will leave the church if they found out about his sin. Less people = less income.
    In order to help maintain the fragile unity in the church, we left under instruction not to contact anyone in the church again. We moved to another state and have often sought to reconcile with the person in question but he refuses. After three years we have finally begun to move on, as defined in your article. We still feel the deep hurt and will always bear scars, but we have learned that God’s love and care is deeper than our pain. The points you make and the advice you’ve given is excellent, much needed and God-sent to my heart.

  38. Very well said. I think these are very important points to remember in dealing with our brothers and sisters. Sometimes we get hurt, and sometimes we hurt others, but like you pointed out so well we must work to maintain unity among the body.

  39. I really liked this article. I have dealt with an ongoing open wound for nearly 20 years. God has been so good to help me through it. I have had to forgive over & over & over, with the other parties continuing to throw salt on the wound. It’s way too long & involved of a story to tell in this setting, I will briefly say that it was a divorce between two extremely close families, where my sibling & parents were blamed for everything, so they felt completely justified in keeping the children away from this side of the family all these years. I was able to handle that somewhat because I finally saw what kind of people they really were. What was the hardest was my church family who chose to “take sides” on an issue that didn’t involve them. This family took the kids & moved away so they would only occasionally return to town & visit but never allow the kids to see us, though there was a court order for shared custody. It was incredibly painful to see people I thought were my friends run to them with open arms, knowing children were being kept away from their dad & grandparents because they thought we were a bad influence. Just as a side note, we had absolutely no contact or influence & the children are now adults. One is an alcoholic, another a drug addict, one had to marry due to an unwedded pregnancy & is now on the brink of divorce & NONE of them are saved or attending church. It grieves me, I do not take pleasure in their statuses. While my family isn’t perfect, we are saved & actively part of the church. It has been only God who has helped me through this, I have never understood such cruelty from people that I deeply loved. While their hurt was shocking, I have forgiven & now am asking His help to forgive my church friends for what honestly feels like a betrayal. One person went so far as to push for details (my family NEVER EVER gossiped about them) then to turn on my mother & say, “Well, you don’t care if I just go right on loving them, do you?” I don’t know if anyone else feels this way, hurt me I’ll cry & get over it, but hurt my mother so that she cries, it was more than I could take. Her tears were for all the years of being denied her grandchildren among all the other hurts. So now I’m asking His grace to help me forgive not so much “my” hurt but the deep, deep wounds of my parents & brother. Your article is one I will read again & again. Thank you!

  40. Courtney- you have no idea how blessed we all are to have you as our sister in Christ. Yes, I have been wounded by fellow Christians. I was saved after I got married and my husband is not saved (yet!). Due to this, We have very different world views now. I am a working mother of two children. A lot of my Christian friends have made hurtful comments about me working. It absolutely breaks my heart that I am not home full time with my children. Biblically speaking, I should be a full time mother and homemaker. However, My husband thinks otherwise and due to financial strains I am not able to be at home full time yet. I also have to be submissive to him in this area. I pray all the time God will bring me back home. We all have to remember that everyone has a story and we have to be sensative to the fact that not every Christian is in a spiritually matched relationship. Life can be challenging enough, let’s build each other up 🙂 Thank you for writing this helpful article.

  41. This is timely. It is especially hurtful when the one doing the hurting is the pastor’s wife. In the military we were taught to respect the office, even if we did not respect the one holding that office. Therefore, I have put up with her many subtle insults, often pretending not to notice.

    However, after the way she treated me at a party – the hostess put us on the same team in a game and she refused to acknowledge that and refused to sit by me, (she made her husband sit between us on the couch even though he didn’t want to). This was in front of everyone, of course- I took it to God in prayer. I am asking God to help me not to say anything, but to have others notice her behavior and publically call her out on it.

    A friend of mine totally went off on her in front of everyone. Because this lady is a sneaky mean girl type, it looked like my friend just went off for no reason. I don’t want that to be me, but it is so hard not to fight back.

    I have no idea why she treats me this way. I have tried many times to befriend her. When I realized she wasn’t interested I tried to just say hi and keep going, which works most of the time.

    Thankfully, my husband started a new church not too far from theirs, so I don’t see her on a regular basis now, just when our two churches get together.

    Please pray for me that I will not respond to her jabs and also that I will not be bitter toward her. Right now I can’t stand her, but I don’t want to feel this way.

  42. Courtney,

    Thank you for this encouraging biblical outlook on church relationships.

    I, too, was naive and thought the Body of Christ, though imperfect and full of sinners, still at its core loved one another. I certainly never thought that infighting, malicious gossip, positioning for power, manipulation and lying were to be a part of the Church, much less tolerated by the Leadership.

    I worked for the church for close to ten years. Although there were the occasional discomforts from some critical attitudes, for the most part, it was a time of joyful service. However, the last three years of that time was heartbreaking. We had gone through a transition with the installation of a new pastor. At first, the staff and church really felt a unity of purpose and growth. Slowly, though, things started to change. A divisive spirit was apparent. (That is all I truly want to elaborate on.)

    I have struggled with asking myself some of those very questions posed in the article. What was my part in it. Have I forgiven. The result is a fear of leadership, Pastors in particular. Ineffective elders who refuse to hold Pastors accountable. I have never stopped serving in the Church or attending, however tempted I may be, because I know that is the Enemy.

    Through prayer and study in the word and the intentional service within His Body, I have begun to heal. Forgiveness is something I weigh within my heart all the time. “Have I truly forgiven?” It takes time. But I am confident in one thing. That the Lord Jesus knew what would happen and he kept His promise to never leave me alone.

  43. This post was just what I needed Thanks for all the posts you write. But this one was the best. Being a Pastors wife ( need I say more LOL ) many sleepless nights crying and thinking if I want to go on.. There was a time I even wanted to abandon my family because my husband wouldn’t leave the church. I’m thankful God has been taking care of me.

  44. Thanks Courtney for sharing your heart and your hurt. We have been wounded so deeply by the church this past year it is almost unbelievable! Long story…could be a lifetime movie. Our daughter met a guy in the church and because of the counselor and the pastor sharing some things that we shared in confidence and her fiancé told us that we were not allowed to talk to our daughter unless we went through him. We found out they were getting married on facebook. We were not invited and his family was there. His Dad is an elder in the church. We left the church and we did not hear from anyone in our small group…they were told not to speak to us. There is so much that we still don’t understand but in this past year we have grieved the loss of our daughter and everything that went with the whole mess. God is so faithful to continue to show Himself to us even in the midst of the pain. I can not tell you how many times He has brought someone to us at just the right time. We will not return to the church and of course it would be nice to have questions answered but we will not become bitter! God continues to work in the situation. Just last week our daughter actually texted us. So we continue to pray for healing in a very wounded relationship that the church could have kept from happening!

  45. Wow! I just wrote a blog post “Forgiveness brings Freedom.” Courtney, you might appreriate it in light of this post. My dad was a pastor and left our family when I was a little girl. It left lasting gashes in our lives. Thankfully my brother & I are both in full time ministry and faithfully serve in our churches. We know the pain of sin and have walked through days and years of not understanding how anyone especially within the church could hurt others so deeply. But you said it exactly right, it draws you into a deeper relationship with God than ever before. So thankful that God can heal the deepest wounds of our soul. Thank you for this. http://micahmaddox.com

  46. I know someone who was sexually abused by her father, an elder in the church. The church refused to accept her allegations. She refuses to attend church, even though this happened 40 years ago. Although she still has faith in God, she has no trust in the church and hates it. Any advice?

  47. Thank you for this Courtney and thank God for His timing! I was hurt by someone in my church too many years ago. I was very bitter until God told me I should be praying for those who hurt me! Let me tell you those first few prayers were not very sincere, but I continued. I found one day that I actually enjoyed praying for these people, it wasn’t a chore anymore. I am glad to say that I can actually speak to these same people now with no bitterness in my heart, in fact, I rarely think about the hurtful thing anymore. It is a good feeling!! God’s way is always best! I love your husband’s analogy’s and will use them. What God has taught you through all of this can be used everyday in our lives with anyone. Thank you for sharing.
    I have just recently found your blog and am totally enjoying it. Hoping to join you in Bible study soon!

    God’s Blessings

  48. Thank you Courtney, I’m reading this blog with tears in my eyes. I have been hurt by my local church several times, but because of my obedience unto God and to my husband I kept on attending church. I really needed this.

  49. This post is so very well timed, as the topic of being hurt by the church has been on my heart often lately. I was just talking with my pastor about it last week, as his son in law was just let go from his position in a local youth mission, for a ridiculous reason. I shared with him my experience as a child, when my dad was a youth pastor, and falsely accused of having an affair with a church member. He was forced to resign, the church was divided, and overnight I did not know who we could trust. I was made fun of at school, my mom lost the majority of her friends, and we were ostracized. I carried that hurt with me for many years, and even still, when I see some of the church members from that time I’m unsure who is trustworthy, and who was “one of them”. Even though I was quite young when all this happened, about 11, it has shaped me as a person. Forgiveness is key, and I think it is important to respect those around you in church, but take caution not to put church members and leaders on a pedestal. We’re all human. We all make mistakes. None can be held to the standard of perfection without coming up drastically short. Thank you so much for sharing your heart in this post, being hurt by the church is a different, deeper kind of pain, that leaves confusion and chaos in its wake. I’m so thankful for your open honesty, and your thoughtful wisdom on the subject.
    Jen

  50. Yes and it still continues on the subject. You see my hubby and I have 8 children. 6 together. we each have girls from previous relationships. We found God and changed our ways and started reading the Bible. we took what it said to be truth and we live as such. We are letting God decide our family size and we get comments. even today. Church goers saying the just because the Bible says to be fruitful and multiply, it shouldn’t pertain to us. How can they say something like this? They say things like our quiver is full. Well if you know anything about archery there are different quivers. 7, 12, and 24. So who’s to say what our quiver is? They say things that are to me very inappropriate like don’t you know what causes that? Or I can fix him so it doesn’t happen again? Why would church people be like that? Do they not feel children are truly a blessing from God? Do they not really understand scripture? Are they not living like they should for them to judge me and my husband? I laugh it off on the outside but it really stings my heart on the inside. thanks for listening

  51. Would it be okay to go to that person and speak to them privately? To explain how hurt you feel or should one keep to themselves about this?

    Good post!

    1. Hi Lee Ann,

      This post was so lengthy I was not able to go into the details of seeking reconciliation but Matthew 5:23,24 says:

      ” 23″Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother”

      It is good to go to the person and pursue reconciliation. This is the heart of God for his children. My post was written with the thought in mind of the wounding that comes after we have done this and the person is unapologetic.

      But thank you for mentioning this!
      Love,
      Courtney

  52. I have had a few wounds in the church from people but none hurt like the one I received from my pastor. My husband I were music ministry leaders and after 7 years in this volunteer job (which we loved doing and were honored to be able to do) we were lucky if we ever conversed with our pastor, over the ministry and his preferences, once a year. We did our best and tried to do what his preferences were. Evidently we caught him on a bad day during our yearly meeting because he told us he thought we were bad leaders and didn’t relate well to other ministry workers or the congregation. Even after that there were mistruths being told about us to people that stepped in to do this job after we left. I spent many hours in council with the associate pastor trying to figure out how I’d messed up so bad and it had gone on for so long. I feel as if I received very balanced council and an ear that was willing to help me walk through the hurt. I definitely learned to stop putting people on a pedestal just because of their title and I learned some personalities do not mix well together in work. I never questioned his faithfulness to Christ or his desire to serve his congregation. What I did learn is some people speak out of not well thought out emotion and that hurts. It taught me to think even more carefully before I speak to someone. I’m still at a point I don’t trust too many people anymore. We don’t attend church very frequently and we have spent most of our time since then church hopping. Not because of any church or person in the church doing anything wrong we just can’t seem to settle in. (mostly me) I have been and remain lonely. I miss my church family. I do feel as if I’m slowly coming up for air in all of this and don’t want to be drowned by the pain but I do feel just as with many physical injuries it takes time to, in a sense, rehabilitate. I just don’t want to feel anymore pain.

  53. Hello Courtney!
    I really admire your blog and I have to, as a part of a college assignment write a blog for one of my classes and I decided to write about marriage? Is it ok if I include some of your videos! (I will definitely give you full credit, as well as talk about what a great blog you have!)
    Thankyou!

  54. Hello Courtney!
    I really admire your blog, it has helped me so much on my journey! Im in college, and one of my classes is requiring us to write a blog, and I want to write on marriage! Do you mind if I use some of your videos/pictures? With full credit, of course! I would love to tell people what an awesome blog this is!
    Thank You!

  55. This is exactly what I needed to hear today! I’m dealing with this not at my church but among another group of Christian people I interact with regularly. I am so hurt and have very little respect left for them. I’ve been battling anger and bitterness and even the thought that they must be jealous of me to be acting that way. But I know these reactions are not Christ-like. I am striving to pray for them and love them in spite of my natural feelings because I know that action often precedes feeling. Thank you for your biblical encouragement!

  56. This gave me such HOPE today. Not only did it speak to me but I shared it with two friends who are working through the effects of being wounded right now. Thank you, Lord for providing a venue for Courtney to share this message and laying it on her heart. God bless you, Courtney

  57. Anne Graham Lotz has a book called “Wounded by God’s people”. It’s very good and I encourage you to check it out if you need further help. We are all sinners. We don’t understand why these things happen to us. God will avenge. But I know I’ve done my fair share of hurting others in the church, so it shouldn’t surprise me when other fellow believers hurt me. Wounded people hurt other people. I consider my suffering fellowshipping with Christ in the suffering He endured for us.

  58. Wow! Thank you! Your words have met me right where my heart is at! I have been in hiding, praying deeply for a path of forgiving and friendship again with a women and close family friend in our life. Sadly this problem has made going to church a hard thing, I miss the church. This Sunday I hope to wake refreshed and ready for my church family! Thank you!

  59. Courtney, I enjoyed reading your article. There is much good to be gleaned from it. The one thing I noticed missing from your article was the word “grace”. Because Christ showed us grace when we didn’t deserve it, it is all the more reason we extend it to all, who may not deserve it. I’m reminded of what Paul said about his thorn in the flesh in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10. “8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.
    9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

    Like you said, church is messy but sprinkling grace on one another is much more powerful then remembering a long list of action items. Did you know that almost every epistle written by the Apostles starts by extending grace to the reader? Once everything is dealt with by extending grace, life just falls into place.

    1. Yes and amen! Grace! I LOVE grace!

      I think I could write a book on this subject but in this blog post that was already running long on words – I was not able to hit every corner and I shared specifically what God was teaching right now – but I have written on grace for that difficult woman in our church before – here’s a link:

      https://womenlivingwell.org/2012/06/my-feelings-about-the-woman-who-confronted-me-wlww-link-up-party/

      Hope it helps!
      Lots of Love (and grace),
      Courtney

    2. This response is hard for me because it assumes that grace isn’t already something you have been dealing with in the situation. It’s not an “I’m right-you’re wrong” thing…but when you see what is going on in some churches…it’s appalling. “sprinkling grace on it” does not help you deal with the pain and real challenge of overcome the way that these situations make you want to walk away from your faith. The way it challenges how you REALLY view God and his hand in all the things that come along in your life. When it’s not a problem of opinion or personality, but there is really something wrong…a sin issue, we need more than other people telling us to apply grace. Not to be without the ‘grace’ encouragement…but we need more from our brothers and sisters than just that.

      There are major growing pains in the whole process, and I truly believe it is a life process…not just a moment. If you are seeking the Lord for healing and showing you how to come out of this standing, you will know that grace is a part of it. And division is not always a sign of someone not showing grace. As we heal from a very difficult experience with a local church, we continue to dig deep and challenge our hearts to be real about the effects of the situation and our responses. Thank you Courtney for the encouragment in steps to take to walk through in a Godly way. We want those inside and outside of the church to see Him in us.

  60. This is what perpetuates abuse in the church. If you are being hurt or have been please keep telling someone until you are heard! If you are just having a hard time dealing with criticism, understand that it is valuable in moving us forward. Peer review is good. No one likes it, but we shouldn’t silence it. And if you are attending a church full of petty backstabbing and gossip, find a different one.

  61. Wow! So profound and everything I have ever wanted to say about my past hurt from church. Brand new Christian, 30 years old, trying to get everything right as I had grown up in a abusive home and had been accustomed to sin. So when I came to Christ, it {which is still an ongoing process even 6 years later} was a confusing but beautiful process. Then gossiped happened- at church at that! People sided with this person because she was a nice and well known person in other people’slives and such and it was one of the biggest blows of betrayal and stump on my new Christian walk. I didn’t give up on God because I knew this wasn’t about Him and thankfully realized and finally understood what free will was. A couple years later, I should say 4 years actually, although we no longer attend that church, we still visit it a couple times a year. I say we cause my husband was also victim to the same gossip. He wasn’t even walking with God at the time, so, needless to say our marriage was difficult in so many ways after all that happened. But, God restores, He redeems, and whatever the devil stole, God gives back in such a great way! I am finally getting out of that mode of ‘not wanting to make friends’ so I don’t get hurt because I am also realizing that Christians should never put other Christians on a pedestal, no matter how nice, how far along they are on their walk because we’re still sinners and fall short from time to time. This is so beautiful and love it so deeply as I’m just getting out of that foggy, ugly hurt that happened in January of 2011.
    Thank you so much, Courtney!

  62. A friend of mine posted a link on Facebook, the title caught my eye, as I’m experiencing this right this moment. Sadly my wounding is coming from the our pastor. At first I didn’t realize that’s where the wounding was/is coming from as we were wronged by another party. I am definitely fighting bitterness and anger and feel as I am losing the battle. I have a feeling I’ll be reading this over and over as I go through the process of healing.

  63. First – I loved this article! But what I really took away from it was something that spoke to me while reading it. It was a “light bulb” moment – an epiphany 🙂

    In the verse, Jesus says to forgive seventy times seven. Nowhere did it say that the man was sinned against seventy times seven.

    It had never occurred to me before that the forgiving Christ spoke of wasn’t just a one-time thing, even though I know this from my personal forgiveness journey. Sometimes it seems to take “seventy times seven” just to work through one item on our forgiveness checklist. Thank you SOOOO much for reminding me that forgiveness is oftentimes a journey and Jesus’ words are not condemning us for not working through the process of one sin = one act of forgiveness, but show that the journey to wholeness may take multiple acts of forgiveness.

  64. Courtney,

    I am so glad you posted this. I felt like this was a conversation between just me and you. I was so badly burned by the church I grew up in. I started attending with my family when I was 12. I remember being bullied by the other kids for my appearance and my ethnicity. (I’ve wondered where they learned that hate from?) We were all Latino, but I was the wrong kind of Latino. (And back at school, I was bullied for not being “Latino enough.”) The places where I was supposed to be safe were the most destructive of all. I had no voice as my parents didn’t care that I was being bullied. I would come home from church and cry my eyes out, begging my dad not to take me back anymore.What’s worse than all the gossip and bullying though was the misrepresentation of the Gospel to a child. All I took away from that church was that I was a sinner and hell-bound. I was so traumatized by what I heard there. When I turned 20, I wanted nothing to with “Christianity” and would always turn away from any mention of it. I grew up a very bitter, confused, scared and depressed young lady. It wasn’t until I let my guard down that God knocked and I let Him in. I was watching a wedding, despite it being a Christian service, when Romans 12:2 was read and it pierced my soul. It felt like God was breathing new life into me, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” At that moment, I surrendered all hate and bitterness and asked Jesus to forgive all my sins and asked Him into my life. (That came naturally, I didn’t know about repentance.) Months later, I decided to visit church again but I still had echoes of “not good enough” left in my heart so I was terrified to enter one. Standing at the entrance, I begged God that if I was not good enough, for Him to please let me down easy. I meekly walked into the church and sat at the last pew. But like a stamp of approval, Romans 12:2 was read that day! My heart was overwhelmed by His mercy and love. I dedicated my life to Him at that moment. I am now 24, and it’s taken me this long to really learn about Jesus. I did not know He came to die for sinners like me, and that His is grace is a gift for the taking. I am finally at a church that is full of love and the Spirit, and I’m surrounded by people that love me outside the church. Reading God’s Word and realizing what HE has to say about me has helped my recovery in all aspects of life. And your SOAK method is the tool I use. Thank you, Courtney!

    P.S. My baby sister shoots out of her bed on Sunday mornings eager to get to her Sunday school. That is the Gospel working in a child’s heart, and church done right!

  65. Thanks so much for this Courtney!! This is SO needed!! I think people are looking for authenticity in the church. The problem is, once you are, everything you said may be used against you. Sad that even church can be so”clicky”. I have found myself very jaded at times. I’m willing to sadly sacrifice the theology group for another that may not be in line with my beliefs completely but they are “real”so to speak. The gym analogy was so good! I was going to say brilliant but I know how humble you are and didn’t want to over do it ha! I guess I just did 😉 You know Courtney, you really are a sweetheart and I tend to be a reverse snob sometimes. Sadly I have in a sense almost “looked down on” or judge harshly people who have grown up in the church. My background is one of abuse and dysfunction. The Lord saved me while I was still a teen but I still don’t really fit in any sort of “group.” Sometimes when I’m in some type of Women’s bible study, they are usually filled with ladies who were raised in a christian home. I just cant relate much to them. I hear them whining and I think-wow! I just roll my eyes on the inside. Yet in some type of worldly support group, I sit there unable to relate having been freed from so much sin and death. There seems to be less need to impress each other in that crowd. They are in pain in want relief. We have the answer for them but the way that we treat each other makes them turn away from what we offer. It’s the saddest thing!!

  66. Courtney, My husband is in seminary and I was a women’s director for years. I took many hits/problem issues from women and was able to ignore or resolve much of it, but the worst was when my husband was turned down for ordination for Pastor, because his exwife 16 years ago left him due to numerous affairs and they eventually divorced and the elders of our Church knew it and they had been ordinating deacons who were also divorced. My hurt has been so deep that I go to Sunday School and Sunday morning worship, but want nothing more to do with the elders or deacons and their wives in Church. I see many of them as hypocrits. I keep praying for Christ to help me work through the hurt and it has gotten better, but in the process I will never trust any of those friendships. I am going to Church for Christ, my husband and daughter. I am throwing friendships on a back burner. I can’t even share with some of my closer Church friends, because I feel it would cause issues. Such a tough situation. Thanks, for pointing out the issues we deal within leadership and in Church.

    1. Thank you for sharing this Allyson. My husband has been turned down for ordination too and we have no good reason why. (In our church ordination is decided by the elders, deacon and pastor and it has to be unanimous. My husband is one of the elders and it is usually a natural progression for ordination to come from serving in leadership.) Some did not agree. My husband talked to each one, and I don’t want to get into the details- but the reasons don’t make sense to me and are not Biblical. Anyway- the point being here, the pain is so deep and is not just in the past as we deal with outrageous disrespect and other stuff- ongoing. I feel like we received a huge wound and now we are being beaten repeatedly while we lie on the floor bleeding.

      I KNOW we need to forgive. I know all about forgiveness, what the Bible says, and how important it is. I know bitterness is dangerous and I repent of it every day. Knowing and forgiving are two separate things. I need to forgive. Maybe I need to talk to certain people-I have no desire to do that. I feel so incredibly alone because I can’t talk to anyone but my husband about this because I don’t want to color anyone’s feelings about leadership in the church.

      Anyway… it is really helpful to know I am NOT alone in experiencing this. Please pray for me that God will give me the grace to really and truly forgive and healing can begin.

  67. Great thoughts, Courtney! I think another huge thing is that we be humble enough to recognize that sometimes wounds come about because if personality differences, etc and both parties are wounded rather than it being a clear sense of one party being completely wrong while we are completely right. As my mama used to say, “it takes 2 to tango” it is rare that one party is completely right while the other us completely wrong, and I think being willing to admit that us huge in recovering from wounds. Also, I think we have to all be willing to admit that we have caused the wounds at times as well. I think recognizing and admitting our own faults and shortcomings goes a long way in helping to heal from wounds…as opposed to being prideful or constantly placing blame on others.

  68. Found your blog through True Women— We have been hurt in the church over & over again…..it goes back so far, we always managed to find a church to go to, but eventually were let down again. From my husband not feeling comfortable—that pastor turned out to be a pedophile, to the church not wanting to allow our child, (3 years old then) in Children’s Church—they wanted our child on medication, yet the woman in charge of the children’s church- her grandchild ran circles around the group….that was “cute,” Oh, yes they also didn’t allow my husband to quietly walk our child in the foyer during service–we had no choice but to leave, to another church/pastor saying the Grace of God isn’t enough! We finally went back to our “home” church—where we had met & married. (We had left there too, disillusioned after we were married. I had worked in the Pre-school & one of the Aid’s was groped by a drunk parent. He basically had his wrists slapped. Nothing was done to protect the Aid or the other women…) We went back home & things went well for awhile—- When we returned we had ONLY HOPED things had changed, WRONG!!!! The people take on the attitude of the Pastor….I was verbally abused after trying to work out a problem with a woman I sang with, who was trying to control me, lying to me… We believe she was trying to make me quit so another woman could be the one up there singing with her. (That woman was already told to leave the choir, because she was trying to take over, BEFORE we came back…) I was told because I couldn’t read music, I had no business being up there….I had been asked to be on the team by the Music minister! The pastor told me to not talk about what happened or to think about it! BIG RED FLAG to me! We left! Of course, he later called wanting us to come back….tithe money! (Even the Music Minister believed $ was the reason…..) The senior pastor didn’t back up the music minister in how he wanted things to flow in that meeting either, of which the music minister wasn’t privy….(for the Praise Team to come onto the platform BEFORE the altar call) the reason the woman literally got in my face to start with. It was such a nasty encounter & revealed to me the hearts of the others….we tried to go back to church somewhere else, but I would end up in tears every time! I was so broken! Then, one right after the other, things began to collapse for us…..family- trying to attack my family! They wanted to control us too, threatening to destroy my family (Have you heard of Bill Gothard….?) School- our son was being threatened/attacked in school by other students—no one would do anything. AND they told us he couldn’t defend himself! If another incident happened–whether he was at fault or not, HE would be suspended! We pulled our kids out of Public School. Then it was work—my husband HAD TO retired because of his VA disabilities. His place of employment was VERY HATEFUL in the way things happened. Their behavior wasn’t necessary, trying to humiliate him…! Well, with family doing what they were doing, things closing down for us, the door that was opened for us to leave, we packed up & sold our home & moved out of state! We didn’t tell anyone; who would we have told? Only those that would have tried to cause more trouble! Thinking we could begin again in the new place where we live now, we reached out to neighbors….the one that is the closest let us know we weren’t welcome! (By the way, he is a minister.) Things began to happen…trespassing, smashed mailboxes, etc.! Then, my husband was nearly run over when he went to pick up the mail by the neighbors son! Even with witnesses, no one will do anything…! We’ve tried to go back to church, but soon learned the neighbors wife’s sister goes there, making us uncomfortable. We still haven’t found anywhere to go. We have church at home & study the Word of God for ourselves. We HOPE to find a place to worship. We pray for all of these people that God will reveal to them the state of their hearts. Time is SHORT before Christ’s return! How will He find His church?

  69. Wow. I was hurt so badly by the pastoral leadership at my former church. They destroyed me. The accusations were awful. And to top it off, no one in my circle of friends went to my defense. I know it was because they knew if they did, they would receive similar treatment. I don’t fault them for that. But when I left and had to start over at a new church by myself (I am single) it was so hard. I had a person tell me repeatedly..”You don’t know how hard it is for us. We love you but we love the church.” I told her to never say that again….it wasn’t “hard” for them. Nothing changed for them. No one went to my defense. I am the one whose life was totally turned upside down. But when I started at my current church, I met people who had been wounded in similar ways at my former church. Still healing…

  70. Courtney, thank you for writing this article. Almost one year ago we left our home church of 41 years. Lots of hurt feeling, ugliness, and focusing on things that have no eternal impact on God’s kingdom.
    I would not change the outcome but would never want to relive it again. I pray that all the lessons that I needed to learn were learned. The Lord opened my eyes and my families eyes to many things and for that we are so thankful! I can truly say I understand why people leave churches and never walk in the door again. However, satan wins the battle if that occurs. In our case, we left the church and the very next Sunday we we standing in another church.
    From the moment we walked in the door of the new church, it was different. You could feel the Holy Spirit all over the church building. He was invited and welcomed in the place. We had no desire to talk or get to know people. We wanted to just hide and focus on the Lord. The people were so welcoming that it was hard to hide and after, 5 weeks, we knew this church was where the Lord wanted us to serve.
    The Lord’s plan is so much bigger than ours and I am so grateful for his grace, mercy, and provision. We serve an awesome God and he has taught me HE knows what HE is doing! “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

  71. WOW couldn’t have hit home any closer…My pastors wife had posted a picture of her daughter standing with her back to the camera with no clothes on, on facebook…I wasn’t quite sure how to handle the situation as a board member so I called the pastors presbyture for some advice on how to handle the situation..I thought this would be confidential with him but instead he text messaged my pastor telling all about me calling him…needless to say the pastors wife was yelling at me and said she didn’t know if she could ever forgive me. Only to have a month later the pastors wife post on facebook a picture of her holding a butcher knife in her hand stating ” Isn’t it funny how holding a big knife gets the kids to not whine”or something of that nature. I had other church members and non-members calling me and texting me about this post. And before I could talk to her about it she and her hubby called me into the office in front of 4 other church members telling me that because I didn’t listen to them the first time the Bible says to take another with you to confront the person again and they belittled me. I’ve been a member of this church for 15 years and they have been there 3 years…and there have been numerous other posts on facebook from the pastor and his wife many others and myself find NOT becoming to good judgment. I haven’t been back to church for 8 weeks and don’t know if I can support this pastor and his wife by going back to church. They have blocked me from facebook and my father recently died and they have NOT called, sent a card or text messaged me sending their condolences. I have prayed and prayed but haven’t heard from God as of yet on how to handle the situation…I don’t know what to do…

    1. Hi Lori.
      I’ve decided and believe God leads me here to speak directly to you. First I want to take the time to apologize for their actions. I take the time to apologize abd give you the apology you never had. I know it is not fair and trust me God isn’t dead, blind, or dumb. He knows all and sees all… I also want to take the time to celebrate the life of your dad. Death can hurt but we know God works all things for those who love him.. one thing the enemy loves is sibling rivalry. Especially in the body of Christ. Hello its easier to destroy within than bringing the destruction from outside. In these moments of our lives the scripture thst God brings to me is Jeremiah 17:5. We must place our hope on Jesus. His own people crucified and her him. Not to take lightly your pain. But, the Lord says consider yourselves blessed if you are being treated as he was. I’m going to pray for you. I will also let you know that God doesn’t require you to make senses of it all but trust him. If he’s quiet he is asking of you to be honest how you feel and trust that he is your refuge. I would also love to send you a card and keep in touch. Here’s my Facebook yvie cano my Instagram Yvieinspire My email faithandinspiration7@gmail.com my cell 813 841 0771.. God will heal you. .. he healed me from many things including sexual abuse in which hindered my life. Blessings. . A sister in Christ. . Yvie

  72. Thank u for this article. I have been dealing with an issue inside our church and it is one that I have been finding very hard to move on from. My husband and a woman from our church were in a relationship and although now they no longer communicate seeing her every Sunday makes me angry and resentful towards both of them. He hasn’t completely come clean but they are no longer together.
    I have thought several times about leaving the church but right now it’s where I need to be as all 4 of my children are quite settled into the church and various activities/ ministries of the church.
    I know I need to forgive and move on as you have said, but the hardest part is the denial from both sides and the excuses –
    But yes your article is just another reminder from God about what He expects me to do.

  73. I just wrote about our experience with this in detail on my blog. What we didn’t realize at the time was that what we experienced was spiritual abuse. As a result of the long process of forgiveness, the Lord has worked in me a desire to see others healed, and has opened doors for me to minister to others. God is so good, even through the heavy hurts He allows in our lives! He has a purpose and plan in it all, and nothing is ever wasted with Him. He is in the business of redemption and reconciliation. http://www.createdtobehis.blogspot.com

  74. My family was hurt by a church especially my daughter. She had been going through health problem the church knew about it . When in the hospital when you need your pastor and friends nobody showed up. They always told us we were family. She was heart broken. We talked to her about that she told us that they didn’t like her. We talked for a long time about the church she told us what happened that summer when she went on a over seas mission trip. She told us that even though they mission to the people as a church. When they got to the compound they left her out of things to do with the church families. There was only one family that included her and they no longer go to that church. It hurts me so bad knowing how they treated her. She really loves going on the mission trip with the church only because of the children the reach out to. We no longer go to the church . They have not even reach out to us to see why we are not coming to church.

  75. Thank you for this post. I am recovering from being hurt by my former church, where I worked for many years. What I think is really sad is the unforgiveness in the church when someone falls into sin, instead of Biblical restoration. (Isn’t that exactly what Jesus does for us??) Innocent victims are also outcasts, unless you happen to be in the clique. Then no one is disciplined, or outcast from the rest of the leadership circle. This actually happened to me. My husband fell into sin and I was treated poorly. I asked the pastor’s wife on numerous occasions if we could hang out, but never got a response. Meanwhile, other women of the leadership team were going out with her. We noticed a pattern when other men fell into sin; if they had a young, pretty wife, then nothing was done. Everything stayed the same for them. It all came crashing down last year and my husband spoke to the pastor about it. He said that he was sorry and wished he had done a better job. After a couple more hurtful events, we decided to leave the church. And have heard nothing from only a handful of friends that we thought we had there. It was like we turned invisible. One day I private messaged a sister from that church about how I was feeling because I was so depressed, and to this day, she has totally ignored me. No response at all, not even a rebuke, which I realize that I probably deserved. I do not understand how people can treat others so horribly. We are now going to a new church and love it. Now my best friend is telling me that I just need to “get over it”. There is a whole lot more too that even she doesn’t know, but it is a process. I think the first step is getting away from the situation so that you may begin to think straight. It is like a grieving process too; a loss of many relationships that were dear to us. I am not so naive to put pastors and leaders on pedestals, with high expectations, but this has been very hurtful indeed.

  76. Thank you for sharing your heart!!! Wounding DEFINITELY happens in churches! So tragic, but such a reality. My entire church not only abandoned me emotionally, but very harshly criticized and judged and accused me in my relationship with my abusive husband. My wounding is so deep I am experiencing physical complications. I have left that church and now drive 40 miles one way to a church where I can find help and healing and hopefully make forward progress with these issues. May we all learn to be gentle and sensitive to those around us–we do not know what all they are going through and words can be so cruel!!!

  77. This is such a great article. The comments from the readers were well worth the read too.
    After going to a few different churches over a thirty year span, I also have dropped off the scene. I attended and supported faithfully at least 6 years at each one.
    I had some of the same issues the other readers have experienced. But sadly the hardest times were when loved ones had passed away and no one from the church calls. One pastor called two months after my sister passed away. Another church member who did come to my Dad’s funeral said that she thought this was the funeral of so and so Dad’s. Broke my heart. The last church I was at for 3 years. I had stopped attending for a period of time due to a personal matter. No one calls to see what’s up even after I emailed and left messages. I finally got a voice mail asking to pick someone up to bring them to church. I miss the church but am very weary about starting with a new one. One of your readers mentioned how non church people care more about them than the church people. So true with me. I now I just listen to the Moody Bible service on Sundays.

  78. Leaving the body that we had been a part of for almost 20 years was one of the most hardest and painful decisions that my husband and I had to make. Having unresolved issues with the leadership put our family life in such turmoil that we did what Paul and Barnabas were forced to do for the good of all those involved. Leaving quietly as we did I feel exposed us to much talk and speculation but we folled the Spirit’s leading and did as He asked. It has been a year since we left and are now in a sold body once again that is committed to doing the work of the Lord with out tripping up over inconsequential and petty things. I still struggle with wanting others to know why we left but those that truly want to know why have reached out to us and we have been gracious with our answers but only because we are led by the Spirit. The only thing that still bothers me is the fact that the church leadership was not committed to revealing truths and wanted to approach the situation with just sweeping it under the rug and not calling out those involved into accountability. I remain hopeful and continue to pray for reconciliation and restoration.

  79. I am just beginning the healing process after repeatedly being hurt by a condescending friend. I tried to ignore the behavior for some time and it just continued until I finally decided that enough was enough. I couldn’t take the constant jabs and the resulting hurt anymore. I recently had a talk with her about how her comments have hurt me but it did not go well. She didn’t ask for forgiveness and acted like she had done nothing wrong. She told me that I was just too sensitive and how she has a thick skin. I won’t go into all the details but even during this conversation she continued to take jabs at me.
    I have chosen to forgive her even though she has not asked for it. But, I do not want to continue in the unhealthy relationship. She is still pursuing me. How do I end this in a godly manner? Anything I say will probably result in more hurtful remarks from her.

  80. This was so timely for me. The “incident” had been long past (about a year and a half) but I STILL struggle with anxiety about running into them around town. God has spared me so far. I know that my anxiety is an emotional response to trying to protect myself from hurt again. It also keeps everything at arms length in the process. Including possible reconciliation, fullness in Christ alone, and peace in my life concerning these matters. I just had a friend pray over me today about my fear and then this post came across my newsfeed. God is ALWAYS on time.

    1. Um, yes. Over a year later, and I still try to plan my trips into town when I’m pretty sure I won’t run into anyone from our former church. Usually, very early morning works for me, but it’s not always possible. Of all the people who left our church, I have been the one who runs into our former pastor the most often, and he blames me for everything. When I do run into others who have fallen for the lies that have been told about us, I’m usually on the verge of collapse afterward. My adrenals are simply tapped out. The whole experience has been nothing short of traumatizing. The intensity of my subconscious physical response still amazes me even on the other side of forgiveness and moving on. All those emotions and fears rush back as fresh as the moment they happened.
      http://www.createdtobehis.blogspot.com/2015/02/trial.html

  81. People hurt people…and our sin is not against the other person. The sin is against GOD. It is a matter of heart…instead of focusing on the hurt. Keep your eyes on HIM and do what HE wants you to do.
    I had a situation that I wasn’t believed and I followed Matthew 18. More things occurred, it was time for my family to leave…we did quietly. I believe it is wonderful church with wonderful people.
    The hardest part was leaving the (church) family…it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t without great hurt. I lean more on GOD and rest in HIS shadow.
    Keep in mind the person who hurt you isn’t your enemy…satan is the enemy. When we focus on the individual that hurt us, it take our eyes off of GOD. Then satan starts working on both…he wants disunity in churches…don’t allow satan to gain a foot hold, even if he uses you to cause someone to stumble.
    GOD turns our sin into HIS glory…

  82. Thank you so much for this article. I am in the middle of a struggle of my church right now. Because our pastor feels that homosexuals shouldn’t be judged by him or our congregation and believes if two people are in a committed relationship they are better off married than living together, people I’ve known all my life have turned against him. He has been the rock for every member of our church for the past 25 years and it has hurt me so much to see how people we both thought loved and respected him have said terrible things to him and fellow members. My pain is great because I felt that he lives his life according to the Bible, but his opinion on this matter has divided our church and we have now voted to remove him as our pastor. I know anger breeds like a cancer and I know if I turn it over to God in time I will be able to turn this loose, but for now I am hurting and so is he and his devoted wife.

  83. after serving 32 years in a church as the senior pastor I was forced into retirement by the elders. Some of whom I have served with for 25 years. They have publicly stated that I was in sin, (not sure what the sin is, as it changes week by week) and have lied and slandered. Both my wife and I are wounded and now at 68 years old, I am not sure I will ever minister again. I read your post with great interest and I pray that we will find healing as we attempt to practice these principles. Thank you, and may I ask that you pray for us?

  84. The hurt is even worse when it comes from leadership. Our family has suffered at the hands of pastors in ways you couldn’t even imagine. It is very difficult to move on from it. Right now I can’t even make myself go to church. I really do appreciate your post on a difficult subject.

  85. Thank you for walking through these issues with such honesty and grace. I was wounded years ago by a fellow lay leader and very close friend. It ended the friendship and it forced us to have to leave our church. I don’t know that I have ever felt anything so raw, so deeply hurtful. It’s so necessary to forgive, and I am finding that I have to forgive her again and again, whenever she is brought to my mind. The pain diminishes, but forgiveness is ongoing. It is very important to me to go forth in love like Christ continually and actively loves me.

    Your ministry is a blessing!

  86. Thank you for posting this article! I found your blog on Pinterest as I was actually searching for something to made shed some light on responses when you are hurt by those in the church. I am in my 30’s and single and had a great guy from my church in my life. A few folks that I considered friends were spreading some rummors that were simply not true and causing all sorts of problems behind my back. The result has been a strained relationship with my guy and so much raw hurt towrds some folks that I had grown to love in my church. I have been very broken and hurt about the situation. I have struggled with what to do, if I should seek a new church or stay, seek to restore the relationships with those who have caused the hurt, or forgive and go on my way. Thank you for this article and your insight! I feel like because it was in the church my guard was down and I wasn’t expecting the level of hurt from people that I truly thought were good people.

  87. Thank you for this post. Ever since I came into ministry, its been nothing but wounds which left me physically, emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually abuse. Gods people were turning against me, making me feel like an outcast, and to top it all of, I was being told that my ministry wouldn’t prosper, the church could go on without it, and someone could easily replace me as a leader. This tore me down because I was already dealing with pains of strained relationships in the church and now my ministry is falling. I honestly don’t even feel a connection to God whenever I go to my church or do anything with my ministry. But, this post helped me a lot. I don’t know why its happening to me, but I know I’m destined for greatness for God is sovereign and in control and he will never leave me nor forsake me.

  88. I’m so glad I read this article. There are so many times when I run into difficult people and/or situations at church that causes me want to withdraw (attend less, resigned from a ministry, or simply dash to my car after service without physical personal contact). But I know that God will not allow this. He has spoken to me in so many words and reminded me that I am His and my church members are His as well. He has no favorites and we are all a work in progress. He has so often reminded me that leaving or resigning is taking the easy way out and giving place to the devil. Satan would like nothing more than to get us to stop attending church. And, if he can convince us to not attend church he eventually will work on other areas of weakness in us. Thank you for such an inspiring and thought provoking article. God Bless You.

  89. This is a great post. I do want to bring something to attention though. In my case a man in leadership at our church attacked me. We did all the steps biblically as far as going to the Pastor etc etc However this man would not take accountability and was ok with his behavior to women. The Pastor decided no correction was needed for this man or accountability.

    It says in the bible we are to “hold each other accountable” which is if one of us is openly sinning it needs to be corrected.

    What’s happening is many Churches are not saying these things are not ok. It’s the Pastors job to tend his sheep.

    I think for small things this post is great but there are situations that are not safe or God lays on your heart to leave. Always listen to the Holy Spirit and let him guide your decisions and stay in the word. Forgive, always but sometimes he’s telling us to move or get out of a bad situation.

  90. It’s hard to understand reactions from people you assume are cheerful, humble and kind. Had a couple of incidences when preparing for Pastor Appreciation program at our church. I was looking for volunteers to help – mostly simple things – reciting a scripture – songs….asked a deacon to read a scripture and his blunt, offensive “no” made me take a step back. Sought out a member of the praise team to take lead, since our worship leader is the pastor’s wife – and she responded via private message on FB which I perceived to be a rude, offensive remark, complaining she was already too busy and she couldn’t believe I didn’t have a better plan. That one really got me and it’s been 6 months. It’s easy to lose trust. Then you wonder who CAN you trust? Your article is spot on. I’m keeping this one to reference. Thanks!!!

  91. Well written. Thank you! I too have been deeply hurt. My husband found this post and forwarded it to me tonight. I can’t wait to check out more of your blog.

  92. Thank you. I am meeting tomorrow with a young woman so very hurt by Women’s Ministry at my church-she came to me as the former Director of Women’s Ministry at this very same church. I was hurt during that season, but even more so after stepping down when my pastor moved to another opportunity. It seems to me there is so much battling for position, for recognition, for identity within women in the church. I think it speaks of our insecurities as women. Sadly, once leadership positions are attained, everyone seems to be in protect my territory mode and LOVE is lost. I have spent the last 5 years healing, waiting and experiencing a desert time. At first I fell prey to thinking I was being punished. Now, I see clearly, that leaders are often taken into the desert before God unveils His next work for them. There is much to be learned in the desert, but more than anything the desert experience draws one to a complete dependence on Christ. I am beginning to rejoice again. I have been able to release the bitterness, the sorrow. I have not reconciled, but only because there is no acknowledgement on the other side. And that is ok. As you said, I have to leave that at Christ’s feet. He is my Redeemer and He is Judge. My job is to unite with Him in love to serve Him. Thank you for sharing. I am sorry you too have been going through a trial.

    1. Thank you for sharing your testimony. Your words ministered to me in a mighty way! I am in a “desert” experience with what I thought were true friendships. I have been isolated and it seems like no one has noticed. Praise God that He sees and cares and has a purpose in this.

  93. This article is what I needed. Praising God for an answer to my cries. I was feeling that I was too sensitive and was constantly suppressing my feelings. There is healing in His Words! Thank you for writing such a wonderful article.

  94. Thank you! God gave you this to write for me! I am in the midst of a major conflict at church with another lady. I want God to be glorified through my response. You laid out some things very clearly that I really needed to read. Thank you for this post!

  95. This was a wonderful read, even if my wounds are old.
    My wounds originally came from a woman in our church that I considered a trusted friend. And while I was trying to recover from her betrayal, God slapped me with a “gag order”, I wasn’t allowed to speak about any of it to anyone other Him or my husband. I struggled against being obedient every time a new lie came from her lips, from the rejection of other women in our church and everytime I had to see her in service, this went on for almost a year.
    But what God did in me was worth ever heartache, believe me that I never thought I would say those words but it’s true.
    I learned that no matter what may happen here God is still sovereign. He does see every tear, His heart does break for you in your pain, He will sustain and restore you and that through all of the pain/struggle He equipped me to endure, our relationship cannot be torn apart by what men (women) may do. I have been shaped into a person that my God can use to honestly pray for broken people by showing me what their actions/words really look like to Him. He will be glorified no matter what our enemy tries to do!

  96. My husband and I have had a problem in our marriage since it started. He went to one church, and I to another- both Christian. We had children and decided to go to one church. Being the wife, I left mine and started to attend my husbands church. He still said we could visit my old church home once a month so I would be happy. It took a while to adjust, but I finally did. I started to love my new home, then the unthinkable happened. Our pastor I had come to know and love stepped down and we got a new one. All adjustment flew out the window and I felt like I did all over again when I left my original church. Since this change there have been several times I have wanted to leave, for good reasons-wounding you can say. But anytime I bring leaving up, I feel as if I’m given an ultimatum. “If we leave, you won’t be able to go to your old church once a month anymore” because he says he’ll want to visit his old church and going to a new church only twice a month won’t work well. I understand that it wouldn’t. But leaving his church would be for a fundamental. I am not happy where I’m at. In fact I feel as if I’ve stopped growing as a Christian. I can’t split to 2 different churches because it’s unhealthy for the family as a whole. I also can’t give up my old church family, I’ve known them and loved them for 32 years. I don’t even know how to explain anymore. My heart aches everyday over this. I love my husband more then I can say, but haven’t I given up enough? Can’t we find a new home and I still see my family once a month? Is that too much to ask? They haven’t gone against our fundamentals, but yet I feel as if I’m being punished! I am beyond heartache. I don’t know what to do. Please someone out there has to have gone through this!

  97. I was a preacher’s wife for over 35 years until my husband died a few years ago. We had been through many things, many joys and sorrows. One of the hardest things for a PW is to be mistreated, to have her husband mistreated, and to see other Christians mistreated as well. If you are in any type of leadership in the church you will be mistreated because you are there out front. You are an easy target. You naturally will be sought out because most people feel they can say and do anything they care to because you are supposed to be forgiving and let it slide off your back. #But it is just not one instance, but over the years there are many instances. It hurts, it wounds, and it happens a great deal more than people realize. #A very close friend of mine turned against me because she wanted to do something that was wrong according to the Bible. It hurt me because we had been friends for many years, but it hurt me more that she went against what God’s Word teaches us. I have forgiven her but as you well know, the trust issue is there, and that is very difficult to overcome. We are friends but not like we were before. #Another instance was when one of the leaders wanted to get rid of another leader in the church by running them off. They wanted my husband to get up and preach against this man. Yes, that was so very wrong and against God’s Word. Because my husband tried to work out the solution, he was branded “trouble.” In order that we would not split the church, we decided it was best to move on. Many times you cannot solve the problem, and in order to not be the problem you move on after you have done what you can. The devil is alive and active, and he is so active in the church. Never discount the fact that evil is everywhere and he especially wants Christians to fall for his darkness. #If I can say anything that could help anyone right this moment, if you are dealing with this, go to the Father in prayer. Pray with your husband. But never let the person or persons cause you to sin or leave the church. God needs us to help Him in His work. God bless all of you.

  98. I’m in a strange circumstance that I never dreamed could happen. I too was naieve. I attended a church for over 20 years, and for the past 17 i was the church office administrator. The church lady. I poured my heart into my church, and served it well. But as the years passed and the pastor moved on, the new staff found me lacking, and one day I was fired. No reason, they said I did nothing wrong. But the scuttlebutt was that my attitude was bad. Truth was I struggled to respect an interum pastor who had questionable scruples. But since no one asked me but simply took the guy at his word, I was let go just weeks before Christmas. I am not quite 60, and health insurance will cost me more than my house payment now. I felt betrayed and dumped like so much old garbage. I have lost my job, my community, my healthcare. I would expect to have had at least a Matthew 18 opportunity before this. Even church leaders can make mistakes that devastate church members. Who does one trust?

  99. Wow, Thank you! I am really struggling with this as well. I have been a believer all of my life and I’ve never turned from the Lord or stopped going to church. Lately though, I have been feeling so tired from feeling left out and disregarded these 8 years of attending and serving faithfully at our current church. There is an obvious social hierarchy at our church, and we have clearly not made the cut. However, knowing that satan’s plan is to kill steal and destroy relationships within the church,it helps me to be more determined to persevere. I highly recommend John Beveres book, the bait of satan. The enemy uses these things to bring down churches. It’s good to be aware of this, ignore offenses, and forgive as much and as often as we are able, and as God enables us to, though it’s one of the hardest things things we ever have to do.

  100. God put this is my path today. I really needed to read this. And probably will need to read it 50 more times in the next few days. Thank you for being transparent in your pain, and using your hurt to help others.

  101. Your words continue to resonate into 2017. Thank you for the practical how to list. When you are hurting and wounded you often need things broken down so that you have direction. It’s like trauma care.
    Thank you!

  102. This spoke deeply to me. My husband and I have lived close to my inlaws since our marriage 10 years ago. My father in law is the lead pastor at our church. It has been a very difficult decade. God used your post today to minister to my heart. Thank you!!

  103. Thank you for your article. I think there’s comfort In knowing there are several of us who have gone through pain from the church. I have experienced everything in the church from shame, bullying, and assault to being flat out rejected and ignored. I heard someone say once “the church is great at getting people saved but horrible at getting people set free”. Now I’m on my own journey of inner healing so I won’t have to carry these wounds anymore. I always think of how the bride would be if everyone dealt with their junk so that we could truly love people the way Jesus intended us to.

  104. Im a guy but i have had a church that i trusted hurt me and betray me. I have tried to forgive and move on for two years, but still have a hard time in my heart. I too, was too trusting, and i have grown a lot from this(including tougher), but I am afraid I have lost a lot of hope and even motivation in my personal life. It is hard to pick up the pieces of my hearts sometimes.

  105. Love this!

    I have previously been hurt by churches to the point that, for my sanity, I walked away (however *most* were very intentional about trying to hurt me / push me away).

    I’ve recently been back to church, I’m even on the church staff. In the past few months, I’ve once again been hurt by some church members. Some intentional, some not, a few I’m not sure if it’s intentional or not. Even the pastor (who is my boss) has hurt me by going back on his word. While I know that it is because certain circumstances changed that caused him to change his mind on a matter, it got under my skin for a bit that “he lied”

    The difference between my previously being hurt to the point of walking away and now is I’m more mature and recognize the enemy’s attempts to dive a wedge between me and my church family. I can see that most of what’s being done currently is Satan doing his best to open old wounds, hurt me and get me to walk away again. In addition to being more mature, I’m also as stubborn as ever. Recognizing what’s happening just makes me hang on that much tighter.

  106. Thank you so much for allowing God to use you in blessing others. I am currently facing this same situation in my church but it’s all been by God’s Grace that i still find myself there and doing good. I thank Him so much for His strength!

  107. I know God is with me. I know God loves me. I worked with two of the most evil wicked church ladies ever conceived! Every Monday they come in and talk about the Pastor, his wife and the horrible children. It made me sick! Mrs H. Talked about hitting the children in Bible class and daring the parents to say something to her! The other evil thing actually got a petition up to over throw her Pastor and his wife because his wife and daughter got a Christian tattoo! They both are hated by everyone! They judge and Gossip! But both swear they are better than others! If you are poor, its your fault! If you are sick, it’s funny! I had to leave this place of employment after 22 years because of these two! Are you ready? I got moved from my job because I was too kind! I now don’t go to church. I meditate in my backyard and thank God for all my blessing. An older lady once told me I don’t need a real estate agent to get into heaven! I sure didn’t need to listen to these evil snakes.

  108. Many good points in this post. However, to say the church is made up of sinners isn’t correct. As believers, we’re no longer called sinners. It’s possible to still ‘sin’, but we’re not sinners. A sinner is a slave to sin, sinning constantly and willingly. Why should we refer to ourselves with the same title as before we were saved? In the bible ‘sinners’ only refers to unbelievers, the unsaved. Seeing the difference is freeing!

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