But I Was Hurt By Church People

There are many people who keep their distance from church.  Sometimes it is not just church, but they also keep their distance from Christ.  Their motive is that they were hurt in some way in their past church experience.

Perhaps they were forced to go to church often as a child and they now resent that.  Or some of the church members were condescending, cliquish or judgmental.  In too many cases sexual abuse has happened.  There can be many other legitimate complaints.

Here is the struggle.  Jesus came to save sinners, so the church is full of sinners–in fact, every last one of us.  That is not an excuse, but it is an explanation.  A church-goer can simply be a cultural Christian.  That means that they embrace the culture of Christianity, but they are not connected to Christ and lead by the Holy Spirit.  Such people are cause of the worst offenses, I believe.  Even if you are a genuine Christian, you still have a sinful nature and can still act according to your sinful nature, although God will strongly rebuke you.  Often the damage is done.

Some churches, because of their theology, can foster a culture of self-righteousness and judgment.  You should stay away from them.  If a pastor doesn’t demonstrate a servant’s heart, you should keep looking too.  But a church is not more dangerous than any other gathering of people.  Just the opposite, Christ does make real changes in sinful people, so some of the kindness, most humble, giving and forgiving people you can experience will be found in churches.  You just need to understand that a church is for sinners, therefore it is for you.

The Bible does not anticipate the solo believer who isolated from all others.  We are likened to sheep who travel in flocks.  The support of other Christians is vital to the preservation of faith and of fulfilling our God given purpose.  Taking the Lord’s Supper outside of the ministry of a congregation is not really possible.  As a sinner you need Christ.  As a Christian you need a church.

If you are staying away from church, examine why.  Perhaps you need a different congregation.  Perhaps you need to confront wrong-doing and eventually forgive it.  Hurt can and will happen, but just like we can’t live well as hermits, so those who will belong to Christ need each other.

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