?I was 16 when I dedicated my life to ministry. I had felt God’s call to be a pastor for about a year, and I didn’t want to do it (I wanted to study theoretical physics). It took about a year of prayer and worship for me to get to a place where I was ready to say yes to God’s invitation.
And then, only a few months later, my church split. It was one of those nasty, loud, painful splits. People standing up and screaming at each other. Most of my friends and their families went to the new church that formed.
So there I was. A kid with a couple of years left before college, having just made a commitment that would change the course of my life. And the place that was supposed to be my harbor, my haven was instead a place of anger and pain. The people who had nurtured and led me to this commitment left.
I can tell you – that was the first time I was hurt by the church.
But it wasn’t the last.
And I don’t want to diminish the pain I experienced as a teen. But I’ve met person after person who has much, much worse stories. People who’ve been excommunicated from their churches. Or held down and had exorcisms performed on them because they weren’t who the church thought they should be.
People who’ve been disowned by their parents because their parents thought it was the godly thing to do, parents working on the advice of their pastors.
I don’t have to tell you – some of the worst hurts a lot of us have experienced have been from churches – from the people and from the institution.
That makes faith challenging. After all, the Church is supposed to be God’s people, the Body of Christ. If we experience this sort of hurt in Church, what does that say about God? How do we recover from Church hurt?