Monday, June 28, 2010

If Hurt by the Church, part one

This is the first part of a series published in my weekly newsletter Gracelets. If you wish to subscribe to the newsletter, simply email me at

If the Church Hurt You,
Let the Church Heal You (Part One)
By William T "Bill" Faris, MPC"

"I finally figured out what is wrong with the church," I once heard a Bible teacher say. "It's people. If it wasn't for people, the church would be perfect". .

Welcome to the (Dysfunctional) Family

The Bible makes it clear that the church is the family of God. The language of family abounds in Scripture. Fellow believers are referred to as "brothers" and "sisters" which, together, make up "the household of faith". This is one thing that I have always loved about being a believer. Over a lifetime, I have truly found "family" in the Body of Christ.

Like other households in human society, however, a given church will include its own unique set of social dysfunctions. Some of these quirks show up in ways that are rather humorous. Other times we find ourselves face-to-face with the fact that some of our brothers and sisters are capable of delivering some very deep wounds.

Some Categories of Church Hurt

Some church wounds are social in nature. We can feel shunned, bullied, misunderstood, ignored, or manipulated by our family members at various times. This is not always intentional, but that doesn't mean it is not painful.

Other church wounds are more intimate. These include the betrayal of trust, abandonment, false accusation, and the violation of personal and even sexual boundaries.

Some of the deepest wounds have to do with the brokenness of church leadership. Because we tend to place very high expectations on leaders, it is not uncommon for us to feel let down by them. But when leaders manipulate their followers, take advantage of their weaknesses, "fleece" the flock financially, fall morally, or otherwise violate the faith placed in them; very high levels of pain, grief and anger result.

Often enough, church members take sides in a leadership crisis and the resulting division of loyalties can end long friendships, split congregations and sidetrack - or even totally undermine -- the faith of weaker believers.
"If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other" (Galatians 5:15).

Church Treacherous?

As a veteran of church family life and a church leader, I have both dished out and received my fair share of pain, dysfunction, mistakes, wounds and bruises. Nevertheless, I remain as committed as ever to the Body of Christ and continue to believe it to be one of the potentially richest environments for transformation, wholeness, healthy socialization, service, justice, truth and maturity on earth. Why? Because I have learned that - inasmuch as the church can hurt you - the church can heal you, too.

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