Updated: Jun 15
Is "Church Hurt" legitimate? Or is it just people stuck in their ego, perpetuating petty drama, or trying to denigrate the church? Let's talk about it...
This post is inspired by the ongoing cultural conversation about church hurt, which also includes the discussion of declining membership in churches, the modern day deconstruction of christianity and the mass exit from church and religion in our current times. These discussions are everywhere- social media, church circles and seminaries, and for many people, right around the kitchen table or on an outing with friends and family. I want to share my own analysis, observations, and some personal stories of church hurt. Finally, I want to share about how we can heal from church hurt and move forward with a life of spiritual wholeness in Christ. Grab some coffee and come talk with me- I really want to hear your feedback as well.
Let's Start With a Definition- What is Church Hurt?
What is church hurt and Where did the term “Church Hurt” come from?
I have been hearing this tem thrown around for a little over a decade. And although I don’t know the distinctive origin of this phrase, the concept has existed ever since I’ve been acquainted with church (at least the last 40 years), and I’m sure, longer.
It’s important to define what church hurt is, and since there is no known dictionary definition, most people develop their own. I’m no different.
Here’s my definition of Church Hurt: Disillusionment, offense, intentional or unintentional pain, or trauma caused by interactions within the Christian religious environment.
CHURCH HURT CAUSES SPIRITUAL ALIENATION!
I cannot emphasize this enough. The fallout from church hurt has real consequences for those affected by it. Similarly, it has an effect on all people who inhabit any given spiritual environment. See, we are all one Body and members of one another (that's the metaphor Paul used, and it's reality is greater than the symbolism). If one believer is hurting, the entire church is hurting. It is not possible to cast one person aside in the Body of Christ and claim that the rest of the Body is okay. When one child of God is alienated and/or isolated from the Church and the Lord, the pain permeates to the core of the community.
Power Plays and Pain
I would further add that the power dynamic in the religious environment plays a role in how most church hurt is carried out. Usually the party experiencing church hurt is in a place of subservience or lower structural, organizational or social status within the religious environment. Sometimes the church hurt is caused by one party, or multiple parties who represent the power structure of the church; or by systemic principles and practices within the religious environment that enable ongoing acts of church hurt. I will expound more on this in a later installation of this blog series.
So stay with me y'all!. My next post will be about the the topic of offense and a popular teaching among christians that we must maintain a posture of "unoffendability". I will discuss how this teaching can help suppress justice within the church and perpetuate church hurt and abuse. If you want to follow this series, SUBSCRIBE to our mailing list so that you can be notified when each portion of this series is released. Your thoughts and opinions matter to us. Leave us a comment or inbox us directly to submit prayer requests. Peace to you in the Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ.