Hurt At Church

Colossians 3:13 NLT, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”

As I was writing, “You Are Not Alone” a couple of days ago, I kept thinking about those in the body of Christ who have been hurt at some point by fellow believers. It’s still heavy on my heart right now, even as I write this. Some are so hurt that they have made a decision to no longer attend church, or even if they do, the pain they feel keeps them from experiencing the joy that God wants them to have. Or they may isolate themselves by not getting involved in the ministry because they fear getting hurt again. They have no peace because of the wrong they believe was done to them.

Photo by: Polina Sirotina

The reality is that every believer may not feel safe in God’s house for whatever the reason. It’s never God’s will for any of His children to feel uncomfortable or unwelcome in His house. He intends for us all to find a church home that is right for us. He is willing to lead us to the perfect place of worship when we ask.

As I thought about believers who have been hurt at church, the only word that kept coming to my mind is forgiveness. Forgiveness is what God requires of us, regardless of circumstances. There are no excuses, He calls us to forgive. When forgiveness is a struggle, we can pray and ask for His help, and He will help us. Forgiveness opens up the door for healing and restoration. Every strained relationship may not necessarily be reconciled, because some people are better off not being a part of your life, but even so, there still needs to be forgiveness. Having a forgiving nature, causes us to continue to progress in our walk with God, unforgiveness hinders our walk with God.

People are not perfect, so naturally the church is not going to be perfect. However as Christians, we do need to show love to those around us. One thing I have heard over and over from people is that they feel left out in church. They feel that certain people or families in the church are more important than others. That should not be the case, because in God’s eyes we are all valuable and He is no respecter of persons (Romans 2:11). We all have gifts and talents that He wants us to use for His glory.

Photo by: Luis Quintero

Once you know you are in the church God wants you to be in, then you can trust Him to open the right opportunities for you. Sometimes we can attend a church for years, and then God will call us out and into another church (This has happened to me a couple of times.) It’s important to go if that happens, because otherwise you won’t be content anymore. Things, including relationships, won’t work out if you are not where God wants you to be. Don’t let having a certain social status or position keep you in the wrong church. God has plans for you at the new place of worship that are good.

It’s important to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. People will fall short, because we all fall short sometimes. We have to forgive, walk in love and keep serving God. Our Father’s house should be a place of love. Every member of God’s family and those who visit, should experience that love when they enter His house. Someone once told me that she hadn’t been to church in over a year because someone did her wrong. Then it occurred to me that even when people do us wrong at work, we have to keep going because we need our paycheck. It works the same with church, we have to keep going because we need the spiritual strength and the fellowship with our spiritual family.

John 13:34 NIV, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

Don’t let the sin or carelessness of others cause you to miss out on worshipping with your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. God is faithful and He knows your every need. I pray God will help anyone reading this who is struggling in this area. Let love and forgiveness rule and reign in your heart. On the other side of the hurt, discouragement, and unforgiveness that you feel is freedom, the freedom Jesus died for you to have. Don’t let the enemy steal that freedom from you. Trust God to bring you comfort and healing, and then move forward in His grace.

Photo by: Michael Morse

74 thoughts on “Hurt At Church

  1. I think it’s so sad that this is happening so often today. I know because it’s happened to me and my husband. We went to many churches and just didn’t fit in. But the LORD in HIS goodness has given us a church. It’s a church in our very own home. Every week we meet with a lady on the west coast in California and we are on the east coast of Canada. We sing and play music and praise GOD. We talk about what the Holy Spirit has done in our lives and has revealed to us during the week. We pray together. What more could we ask for? GOD BLESS

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    1. Thank you for sharing story. Unfortunately this is happening so much. I’m glad the Lord heals us and directs our paths into His will as we trust Him. Prayer as you mentioned, is so important.

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  2. ” Forgiveness is what God requires of us, regardless of circumstances. There are no excuses, He calls us to forgive. When forgiveness is a struggle, we can pray and ask for His help, and He will help us. Forgiveness opens up the door for healing and restoration.”
    Your entire entry is bathed in the wisdom of God, and these words I quoted especially so! I won’t pretend to able to add anything, except to say that extending forgiveness is a wonderfully freeing thing, for the one who offers it.
    Blessings,
    Pastor Chuck

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  3. Forgiveness is certainly a pre-requisite in all our relationships, especially in a church where I’ve been hurt and have caused some form of hurt as well. The church is a hospital, not a morgue and so certainly there are sick people and so unfortunately, sometimes some ickiness gets transferred before the Doctor is able to treat and give a clean bill of health. We must love, forgive and seek Abba.

    I love the point you made about being obedient to God regarding where He plants us. Truly, if we are disobedient, no other relationship with flourish 🙏🏽

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  4. Hi Dawn ! This post speaks to me in a powerful way. I felt that the Holy Spirit was speaking directly through you. You are absolutely right, forgiveness is the key ! And God helps us to forgive, if we are willing. Yes, for sure, sometimes we need to search for a while to find a group of believers where we feel comfortable, but it is worth the search, because we need each other, and the encouragement that we receive from worshipping with others. God bless you for posting this! 🤗

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    1. Hi Sally! So glad it was a blessing to you. Forgiveness is freeing! I agree it is worth the search to find the right place. God is always working to bring about good and we must obey as He leads us. There is joy in worshipping with others! Thank you, God bless you too! 🤗

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  5. I’ve experienced this recently (over a two year period.) Over and over I had to ask God to soften my heart toward a person who was treating me in an unfriendly way. It is patience testing, especially when there is no clear indication of what has caused the rift. I reminded myself often that sometimes people’s treatment of others comes from a different hurt they are experiencing elsewhere in their life and it gets misdirected. It’s not okay, but it is what it is. God takes care of heart attitudes on both sides if we are yielded to Him. So, after two years I received a phone call of apology and confirmation that it was a spiritual battle on the other person’s part, not anything I did or didn’t do. I learned so much more about compassion, forgiveness, and trusting God to work.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your story Peg! What you said is so important. It’s easy to take it personal when someone mistreats us but in reality the person may be dealing with their own issues and taking it out on others. That’s why mercy and forgiveness are so important. What a great point, thanks!

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  6. Great post Dawn. I think this is an area that the believers must overcome. We have to remember that Satan sits in the front pew at every service.

    I do not believe in moving from church to church because you are not comfortable or someone does you wrong. Think about the people in some countries who have to hide underground to meet with each other for fear of persecution. Are they comfortable? I think we in this part of the world are too relax and so we allow every little thing to bother us.

    We have to remember that it is not about church membership and church people, it is about your personal relationship with God. I have been attending the same church for 19years. The church is family oriented and most times I feel left out, but I do not let it affect me because it is my relationship with God that I care about not the relationship with other members. Thanks again Dawn for this post.

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    1. You’re welcome Beverley. I know it’s no laughing matter but you made me laugh when you said Satan sits in the front pew lol. I didn’t have friends in Church in Florida or anywhere in Florida (another story) until I joined the Teachers ministry 8 months before I left. Then I got to know two of the retired teachers on the ministry and would talk to them sometimes at church on Sunday. In the beginning I even tried hosting a Bible study to make friends at church when I first moved to Florida, that didn’t work either. However I liked the church and kept going for the 4 years I lived there until I just now moved.

      The first church I moved on from, I was there over 20 years, then I felt God leading me out. There were no relationship problems, I just wasn’t growing spiritually. I really grew in the new church. I think many churches do tend to focus more on families, even though singles make up a large portion of the members. That is another complaint I have heard over the years.

      But anyhow, I agree the focus should be on God more than anything else. That way our eyes will be open to the opportunities He wants to gives us, which may include reaching out to others in the congregation who are lonely or need a listening ear. Thanks for your insight.

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      1. Our focus should definitely be on God because if we focus on people we will always be unhappy.

        If the church is not teaching the Word of God and you are not growing, it is best to leave.

        I am also glad you mention the work place because the same discomfort that I feel at church is the same discomfort that I feel at work, but I will not leave my job because I do not have friends at work. Therefore, as long as my church is teaching the Word of God, I will not leave just because I do not have any friends.

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      2. Over the years my workplaces have been very challenging, but they usually are I guess. I’m glad He is with us through it all. Yes serving Him should be the focus.

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      3. Bill Hybels once said that we should not play community, but live community. I always find it challenging to follow Jesus. What about social justice? How do I work to protect God’s creation? And I think there are many sections of the population that are not in the Church. We often reach the middle class. But a church with poor people? Don’t just donate money, live with them.
        Tim Keller writes in one of his books: “If the church does not identify with the marginalized groups, it itself becomes a marginalized group. This is God’s balancing justice.”

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      4. I agree it is challenging to follow Jesus, especially in today’s society. We have to stay focused on Him, stay in prayer and His Word to remain close to Him. I like that quote by Keller. We do as the church have to be sure we are reaching as many people as possible and not allow ourselves to be comfortable with only certain groups. The love of Christ is for everyone. Thanks for sharing.

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      5. When I was a pastor, we wrote a church dream. The content of this dream was broad and very long. I now live in a local church in the form of a living community. My dream is that we Christians do not meet the people around us from above, but actually see them in their worries and needs. Preaching and healing was the mission of Jesus and that is also my dream. The church father Augustine once said that we should always talk about the love of God everywhere. And if necessary, we can also use words. And we need healing. There is so much abuse, bending, misconduct in and outside of the Church of Jesus. And I am happy when the announcement of the good news can be done through a variety of forms of art. And that’s no different with healing. God uses so many forms to get to his goal.
        Do you know the pastor and psychologist Lawrence Crabb?

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      6. I agree we need to see people as they are, even in their worries and needs. Meeting their needs when we can, will show them the love of Jesus. And yes we can show His love in many different ways. I do not know Lawrence Crabb. Does he write books?

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      7. Dear Dawn! Yes, he writes really good books. I will copy his homepage and his blog. For me he is an author who has helped me a lot in my work. And I can read his books without having to adapt them to my culture beforehand. I often do that with other American authors. But I can apply his books directly to me. A lecturer in my theology course referred us to him 30 years ago.
        Greetings from Hendrik!
        http://www.newwayministries.org
        https://newwaymin.wordpress.com

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  7. This is a well thought out piece. I woild add a word of caution to our brothers & sisters. Be careful not to become a “church hopper” when things are hard. God can do amazing things with our brokenness. When others witness your commitment to Him, instead of your personal feelings, that is when REAL change can begin. So unless you are 💯% sure that He is moving you on, stay put, weather the storm & be blessed!

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    1. Thanks Barb! That’s a great word of caution. I left a church after like 20 some years but I knew it was God and the new church is when I begin to really grow even after all those years in the other church where I grew up. But like you say we just have to know it’s God. Thanks for your insight! Blessings!

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  8. Great post Dawn. I think that at times, our expectations of people is the thing that separates us from them 🙂 We are sinners saved by grace and too many times, on that journey as christians we will fall short of God’s standard. Forgiveness, grace, patience, love and the list continues is exactly what the Lord demands from us. Because at some point we will need someone’s forgiveness or we will need to forgive someone

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  9. Dawn you made several good points in this wonderful post.. I really love the revelation you received, ”Then it occurred to me that even when people do us wrong at work, we have to keep going because we need our paycheck.”

    Yes, it’s the same with church. I so agree. It’s where we get our strength.

    The sad fact is we are going to get hurt in this life, whether in church or outside the church doors. A lot of times we wear our feelings on our shoulders because we are hurting and going through trials.

    I know I have been there before, when someone spoke the truth in love to me, and I didn’t receive it well. It may have hurt my feelings, but after I was able to think more clearly, I realized they meant well, and I just let those feelings go.

    In the spirit of our Savior’s humility and realizing that we have all hurt (whether on purpose or not) and been hurt, we should all strive to forgive freely. Simply because there is no greater hurt that we could ever go through that could be compared to the hurt Jesus suffered on the cross and being rejected by his own people.

    I try to never hold grudges with anyone. I have had to pray before to forgive, but it’s 7×70 that we must forgive.

    Sometimes I think it helps when an individual can approach a person and tell them what hurt their feelings, without the other person getting angry and telling it to several others. It’s practicing the “Do unto others rule.”

    Thanks for sharing!

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    1. You’re welcome Renee! And thank you for sharing your personal experience about getting over hurt feelings from being corrected. That shows humility on your part that you thought about it and realized the person meant well. We have to be open to learning and growing. Then we can be stronger in Christ.

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      1. Thank you Dawn, and you are also welcome! It’s sad to see people get hurt in the church by bitter, hateful people. I pray we all use wisdom, love and compassion and forgiveness….I pray for those who have been wounded….And yes, I agree we definitely have to be open to learning and growing! 💜🤗

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  10. I always wonder why someone would leave a Church because he or she is hurt. There is hurt everywhere, not only in the church. What about work place, do we leave our work because someone there hurt us, or get out of a public vehicle because of hurt? You said it all, we should focus on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. He was hurt too even by his disciples when they abandoned him at his worst moment.
    A friend of mine says he will never step his feet into a certain church because someone who attends that church hurt him and is habitual sinner and I told him that we are all sinners before God and we might have hurt someone too. We are no saints. We sin too and we hurt people knowingly or unknowingly. So we must overlook and let go and also remember that not everyone who goes to church is a child of God. Children of the devil also go there to pull the children of God down. We should not allow ourselves to be pulled down and out of the church.
    Thank you Dawn for this amazing post.💖

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    1. You’re welcome Florence! Thanks for sharing your insight. You’re right, we do have to be strong through the hurts and not give up so easily. And thanks for bringing up the point that everyone who goes to church isn’t a Christian. Actually at a pretty large church I attended in the past, one of the ministers told a friend of mine that he believed only about half of the congregation were actually saved. Many people come to church but not all have given their life to Christ. That’s another good reason to be forgiving. When the non-Christian at church sees our godly ways, it will help them turn to Jesus. ❤️

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  11. Well said Dawn! We all to be able to forgive others, especially in our church family. As you state, none of us in our church family will ever be perfect. With humility, we worship each week by bringing our attention to God instead of ourselves.

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  12. This was a post that many people could really relate to as proven by the number of comments. I think that you did an excellent job of supporting your statements with Bible verses. I also liked your understanding voice that I could hear as i read your words. Thank you for being encouraging to your christian family everywhere.

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    1. Thank you very much! I thank God for the opportunity to encourage others. I appreciate your encouragement too! It’s never easy for me to discuss sensitive topics. 😊

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  13. It’s easy to have expectations of how we are supposed to be treated or what we are supposed to experienced when we walk through the doors of the church. When our experience doesn’t match those expectations it can be confusing. The scriptures tell us how to deal with church hurt “if your brother offends you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone” (Matthew 18:15).

    I have experienced being hurt in church. I have felt disillusioned and wondered if I even want to walk back through the church doors. God has showed me several things that have kept me from walking out of the church He assigned me to. Because we can’t just be anywhere, we have to be where God assigns us. One of the main things I’ve learned and am learning is we are emotional beings, so it’s important that we process our hurt through the Word of God and not the offense. Processing the hurt through the Word helps us to forgive and feel about our bro/sis in Christ how God says we are supposed to feel about them.

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    1. Yes true! Processing our hurt and emotions through the Word of God will help us to respond correctly. Eliminating His Word will cause us to act selfishly and not think of others. God is or refuge. We should turn to Him to strengthen us as we go through hurt and pain. Thanks for sharing. 🤗

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  14. Thank you! It’s amazing how God directs us to exactly what we need to hear or to find the expression of feelings we don’t have the words for. I’m blessed through your writing.

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