Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over. Mark 14:43-46
My ministry brings me into contact with a good number of people who have felt wounded by the church. God seems to have given me the awesome assignment of being an encourager and exhorter to those people. I co-authored a book with Debbie Taylor Williams aimed specifically at the pain of these same dear friends: “Trusting God’s People…Again”. It is on my mind this week, because I will be speaking from it the next two Sunday evenings at my church.
Being hurt by the church is by no means a unique experience. The statistics of those who feel injured by the church are pretty overwhelming! But the pain itself, the feelings of betrayal by God’s own people…those feelings are definitely unique to these circumstances. Being hurt by the church is just not comparable to any other pain…not really. It is a deep and lasting pain of being wounded by the very place which should be the safest place in the world for us. The healing process, therefore, is likewise pretty profound.
The good news is this: the One administering the healing from this pain knows all about it from personal experience. That makes a big difference! Here is the way I describe it in the book:
THE NATURE OF PAIN / THE PROCESS OF HEALING
Like physical pain, emotional or spiritual pain can be incapacitating. When your leg is broken, no matter how much you want to walk on it, no matter how important walking might be to you, you simply cannot do it. A healing process must take
This video testimony is a perfect example of why Debbie Williams and I wrote Trusting God’s People…Again. I’ve been using it as a support group curriculum for a few years now, with some remarkable success.
For more information on this ministry, see the Heart 2 Heart website. For those of you in the San Antonio area, groups begin August 24. For those of you outside our area, maybe your church should consider a support group like this. I promise you the need is there!
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I’m posting this under the category, “Books that Changed Me”. When I created that category, I didn’t intend it to be for books I had written. But I suppose it goes without saying, every book you write changes you. This one was certainly no different.
Depending on whose statistics you use, anywhere from 15% to 40% of Christians today would say they have been wounded deeply by other Christians. Think about that. That is an enormous percentage. If there are 100 million Americans today who claim to be Christian, that means that somewhere between 15 million and 40 million would say they have felt genuinely betrayed by their Christian brothers or sisters.
That betrayal coming at the hands of the church is among the deepest emotional and Spiritual pains imaginable. After all, the church is supposed to be a safe place for us, a place where we are genuinely loved and accepted even with all our flaws and shortcomings. When betrayal comes from there, it comes from the last bastion of Spiritual safety we know. It cuts deeply and it renders us Spiritually (if not emotionally) incapacitated for a season in our life. You may be one of these wounded saints. If not, the chances are high that you know one.
The question this raises: what is the church’s responsibility for responding to these dear friends?
The reality is that the pews (or chairs, or benches) in your worship center are often filled with people hurting from this very pain. They were hurt deeply in another church and left there and are now in your church. And they brought all that baggage with them. What they want most is to just sit in the back of the room and be invisible for a while. They’re fairly certain they will not …