I was recently talking with a friend that was so hurt and disappointed with the church that she felt like she had to step away for a little while in order to take care of herself before returning.
I was looking for something to send to try to be encouraging during this time for her and found things like this:
This is a message that is being sent (often out of context) from the church to her people. This message says to people (who are already in a vulnerable position) that their faith isn’t strong enough and they don’t really belong there anyway.
Let’s go over a couple vocab words that I think apply to this situation.
- Gaslighting: manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.
- Victim Blaming: Victim blaming occurs when the victim of a crime or any wrongful act is held entirely or partially at fault for the harm that befell them.
I know some of you are thinking “well, maybe it wasn’t said well, but it’s technically not an incorrect statement”. And I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with you. I do believe that the heart of this message is trying to remind people to put faith in God rather than people. However, this mentality is missing a very vital message. The Church is supposed to reflect Christ. If the Church is going to take up a mentality of “well, if we hurt you and you stop coming that’s on you for not truly believing in God enough” then you aren’t truly representing what a church should be. That’s on THE CHURCH BODY, not on the person that stops coming to your gatherings.
If you’ve been hurt by the church – I’m sorry. We are supposed to be your brothers and sisters and we failed you. I hope someday that we can earn your trust and your forgiveness and that you’re able to find a place that takes you where you are right now. I’m praying for you. That you can find restoration in your relationship with the Church, with the people that hurt you, and most importantly that it doesn’t impact your relationship with God.
Perhaps instead of blaming the person who was hurt, we should focus on what hurt them in the first place. God created us as relational beings. He wants us to be in community with other believers. But when the church takes stands like this, we aren’t creating a space where people feel welcome or comfortable gathering. If we spent more time loving people, getting to know them, and truly investing in their well being – think about what kind of momentum that could create. In a world where everything is self focused, to stop and intentionally invest time and energy in other people. In this broken world. We could create a revolution. But instead, we make pretty signs that say “It’s not my fault it’s yours” and shut them out.
Church, it is our responsibility to make sure we are constantly showing love to those around us. Call out situations where you see the church hurting her people. And show love to the people that have been hurt. I think there are more of us than you think. Please reach out to someone this week. Let them know that you love them and you’re thinking about them.
Ouch! As a pastor, I am the first to admit my faults and the faults of the Body of Christ I represent. We shoot our wounded. That must stop. Thanks for the reminder . . .