Ways to Avoid Becoming Hurt by Church
Emotional hurt is common to the human experience. Interaction with other people is a surefire way to experience some form of emotional turmoil. Yet, we need the social interaction of others; therefore, we should not cut ourselves off from civilization as a means of preventing emotional hurt. Unfortunately, that is exactly what we do; we isolate ourselves and let the enemy continue to have his way in our lives.
The same emotional hurt is prevalent in the phenomenon known as Church Hurt. Church Hurt can be defined as the emotional hurt experienced by an individual within a church; presumably by other individuals within the same church. All too often, many people leave churches and question their relationship with God because of the offense experienced.
Typically, the hurt experienced in Church Hurt is perceived to be more traumatizing than the other emotional hurt experienced from non-church members. This is because of the higher standard of expectation and trust that people assign to the church and church leaders. For purposes of clarity, my definition of Church Hurt does not deal with areas of abuse or maltreatment. I consider these situations to be non-negotiable events that require legal intervention, whether they occur within a church or outside.
Church Hurt, as discussed in this blog, is an emotional hurt experienced by adults through mutual relationships with other adults. There are a number of pitfalls we can choose to avoid, so that we don’t fall away from a relationship with God because of a hurt experienced in association with a church.
Pitfall #1: Religion before Relationship
Have you ever considered life before religion? I have often pondered how men and women functioned before there was the order provided by religion or religious laws. If we keep things simple, we’ll see the answer right before us. In the garden, Adam had a relationship with God. There was no manual, no religious order, and no set of dos and don’ts. There was relationship.
Many of us fall into the trap of putting religious doctrine over the will of the Father, finding it easier somehow concluding that following rules to be easier and more important than staying in tune with God. I’m not saying that religion is evil. Wait, well, maybe I am. Okay, let me clarify. When we become consumed with following the doctrines of religion, we tend to miss the moves of God. How did the Pharisees and Sadduccees miss that Jesus was the Christ? Simple, they valued their religious order over having a true and spirit-led relationship with God. Thus, their hearts were hardened to the voice of God.
Avoid the pitfall of religion before relationship by developing a relationship with God through prayer and fasting. Praying and fasting develops your ability to hear from God and thus communicate with Him, separate and apart from any relationships you have with people in the church.
Pitfall #2: To Know it All
Have you studied the scriptures and know everything there is to know about God and His nature? Really? Do you find it difficult to learn anything new about God from others? If you answered yes to either one of these questions, you need to go back and read Pitfall #1. You may know a lot about religion and scripture, but we are all constantly learning more about God’s nature and His love for us with each new day. The bible is an infinitesimal source that will never be exhausted. Don’t ever become comfortable with information you learned today. As we grow, we learn. We learn about things that we didn’t even know that we didn’t know. Stay thirsty for truth and righteousness.
Pitfall #3: Stagnation
Avoid getting stuck. Many of us get stuck in mundane teachings, situations, and worship because of silly reasons. The first silly reason is title. We have a title or position and don’t want to leave it for whatever reason. You know your reasons. The second silly reason is that we are too lazy to look for better. Yes, I said it. Looking for better takes energy. Many of us don’t want to exert the energy necessary to find the right fit. The third silly reason is fear. We become afraid to leave, afraid to speak up, and afraid to make a mistake. Come on people; trust in God already. He will make a way for you. Oh yeah, mistakes are inevitable for growth. Get over yourself. Get Unstuck.
Pitfall #4: Faith over Facts
Facts are important. Faith is important. Yet, both reign supreme within their respective dimensions. Facts are important for the natural dimension. Faith is important to the supernatural dimension. If we have an overreliance on facts, then it will affect how we operate in the supernatural. The same holds true for operating heavily in faith, it will begin to affect the natural dimension. We want this to occur. Let’s pause. By now you should have an understanding that we operate in both dimensions. We are called to command spiritual power and authority over the works of the enemy on earth. Thus, we are developing our faith so that faith causes the facts to submit.
It is an undisputed fact that the sun rises and sets at an appointed time each day according to the seasons and rotation of the sun, right? Well, explain why the sun and moon stood still for the children of Israel for a whole day. According to Joshua 10:12-14, while in battle, Joshua perceived that Israel would prevail in war if only the sun did not set. In faith, he prayed for God to hold the sun in the sky and the Lord answered his prayer.
Pitfall #5: Too Common
This pitfall happens in every aspect of business or community. We become too common with our leaders. Although many leadership books would advise leaders to come down off of their high horse and engage with the people, we should consider there are some limitations. Start by setting limitations and boundaries; not because of leadership, but because of the maturity of the people. And, if you, as a leader, perceive that you are being idolized or worshipped, you may have to dial back your coolness or charisma. I know, I know—for some of us, this may be hard to do. Do it anyway. Next, consider the hearts of the people. If leaders allow immature people to know too much too soon, then anything you say or do can be used against you in a court of law. Okay, wait, I digressed. But on a serious note, immature people are unable to decipher between the anointing and the person. When we reveal too much of the “person,” the unseasoned babe in Christ may become confused, hurt, or judgmental. It is important to remember that in this relationship, the balance of power is a factor, even unintentionally; but the responsibility is unequal as well.
Hurts happen in all parts of our lives, but the stakes are particularly high in the church environment. Right or wrong, justified or not, the wounded party doesn’t just leave a church or a congregation. All too frequently, they leave God as well, and sometimes never return.