the weblog of Alan Knox

Guest Blogger: Why I Said Church Hurts

Posted by on Jul 27, 2007 in discipleship, edification, guest blogger, love, service | 40 comments

A few days ago, someone left a very poignant anonymous comment on my blog. In response, I asked this person to email me. After reading her story, I’ve asked if I can share it here, and she has graciously allowed me to do that.

As you read this story, I hope you will listen carefully to what is being said. People are hurting all around us, and God has put us in their lives to help and encourage them. We are here to bring glory to God by caring for his people. Perhaps someone that you are acquainted with is hurting just like this sister.

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Why I Said Church Hurts
by Mrs. Anonymous

In a recent anonymous post, I summarized my family’s experiences with church by saying that ‘church hurts’. That’s a strong statement, and maybe one that needs explanation. So I will attempt to briefly describe some of the circumstances that have led up to my comments. My intent is not to unload a ‘laundry list’ of gripes with my church. My hope is that in reading our story, some may find comfort that they are not alone in their own pain, and also, that perhaps leaders in churches will be reminded that their true calling is to tenderly nurture the believers in their midst, not to build programs, structures, attendance, or budgets.

First of all, let me say that I dearly love Christ, and I love His children. I believe in His design for the church– individual, uniquely gifted members ministering to one another with the goal of seeing one another grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. And I praise God for those few precious people He has brought into my life, who love Christ, and encourage me in the ‘fight of faith’. I can’t imagine life without their love. And so yes, I do have some interaction with the body of Christ that is very positive and loving and healing. But most of that occurs with friends who are outside of what we call our ‘church’.

In our church, there is a lot of ‘moving and shaking’ going on. Attendance is increasing. Additions are being built. New staff is being hired. Our image is one of ‘excellence’ (and image is very important). All this is exciting, and there is lots of enthusiasm for all that God is doing. But I look around each Sunday and wonder how many people are just pasting on a smile, hiding their hurts, believing they don’t really matter. Like my family does……

In our church, even though we have verbalized our financial situation more than once, there is no understanding of why my husband works so many Sundays and often misses church. Though the leaders are aware that he works upwards of eighty hours a week, at three different jobs, to meet the most basic needs of our family, their focus has not been on encouraging him, but rather on ‘reminding’ him of the importance of church attendance. It has been implied, subtly, and more overtly, that if we have financial problems, it must, at root, be ‘our fault’. I see the weariness in my husband, the disrespect he feels because he isn’t ‘white collar’, and I fear I see a wounding in my husband disguised as a growing indifference toward church.

Our oldest son is in his twenties, and since he moved out of our home a year ago, he hasn’t attended church. Nobody seemed to notice, even though for six years he was ‘faithful’, and even a leader in the youth program. Recently an elder called asking for his mailing address so he could be sent a letter ‘warning’ him that if he didn’t start attending church, he would be removed from the membership list. That letter will be the first attempt leadership has made to ‘reach out’ to him since he left. So, my son finds more caring and acceptance from his unbelieving friends than he does from the church where he was once held up as a ‘model teen’.

My sixteen year old daughter almost died last December. A very rare, life-threatening infection landed her in Intensive Care for over a week. The infection attacked all her organs. An athlete, she faced the possibility of having one or both feet amputated. Our church did respond with prayer, meals brought to us, and a visit from the pastor, for which I was, and remain, grateful. But once our daughter was home, she began processing what she had gone through: the reality of her own mortality, the fear that her weakened body would not return to its pre-illness state, and that she would have to let go of her athletic goals– her dreams. I shared her struggles with a couple leaders, one of which declared that this was probably God’s way of ‘shaking her tree’, and trying to get her attention, as though she had some sin issue that had brought on her illness. So my daughter and I spent a lot of long nights talking and crying together, as she came to terms with what she’d gone through. It was a faith-building time for her, and the church leaders missed their opportunity to be part of it. (By the way, she recovered fully, by God’s mercy, and went on to compete, athletically, at the state level.)

The latest wounds have been directed toward me. Because I gently cautioned against a controversial idea put forth by the women’s leadership board, I was labeled as ‘negative’ and told repeatedly, that I have a ‘heart issue’. I have been warned not to talk through, with my friends, any problems I have with the church, as this is ‘gossip’, even when it’s done in a genuine spirit of seeking clarity and balanced advice from trusted believers. The church leadership has proceeded with a concerted effort to marginalize and minimize my ‘influence’. Disparaging, suspicion-inducing comments about our family have been shared with others, including one of our best friends. If this weren’t all so hurtful, I could almost laugh at the Junior High-esque tactics of those who claim to be the leaders of God’s people. Maybe some day I will laugh. But I won’t laugh for the next family that ‘dares’ to not ‘support’ leadership, and suddenly finds themselves targeted.

So, I know, everyone has anecdotal evidence of failures in their church. We have all been hurt or disappointed at times. These are just a few of my stories. I can accept that imperfect people will behave imperfectly. We have had our share of minor church conflicts and issues that we have worked through, or chosen to simply forgive or ignore. In over two decades of being in Christ, we have only belonged to two churches, so we aren’t ‘quitters’. But what do you do when ‘going to church’ hurts more than staying away does? When faith in God’s acceptance, and nurturing, cherishing love for me is easier to maintain at home, than ‘at church’. What do I tell my kids? How do I help them avoid equating the failures of people with an ‘unloving’ God?

We are at a point of leaving the church we now attend. It’s sad. I love the people there. But the leadership seems to have put together a model for growth that doesn’t have room for ‘people like us’. I’m scared to look for a new assembly. I don’t want to get hurt again. And I fear that my fear is going to turn into a self-protective distancing of myself from the God-designed relationships He has in store for me. And by the strength that He supplies, I will resist that tendency. But fear of rejection is a powerful force in alienating people. I often wish we could be a wealthier, ‘stronger’ more ‘put together’ family. That seems to be what a lot of churches are looking for. Oddly different criteria than the weary, burdened, and heavy-laden folks Jesus called to Himself. But I also know that a lot of the struggles God has allowed in our lives have been used by Him to make us more compassionate, sympathetic, God-dependent people. We are in process. We are his workmanship. And praise Him, it’s a work He won’t abandon. He is growing my faith, even while I struggle with my hurts and disappointments. I know that God has not abandoned His church to His children’s foolish ideas of how to ‘manage’ or ‘improve’ or ‘grow’ it. I just struggle with the ‘how’ of living in a time and place where the ‘church’ seems to have moved so far of course. Which I guess, in part, is what Alan’s blog is all about. I am encouraged, strengthened, and provoked to Christlike love through Alan’s writings and the comments of others. Thanks for listening to mine.


40 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 7-27-2007

    Mrs. Anon-
    It is a sad indictment of our failure as individual believers and as the Body of Christ when we place image above those made in His Image. Why is it so easy to expend our energy and resources on buildings and programs and power structures, and so difficult to reach out to each other in sensitivity and love?
    I am sorry that you have been so badly hurt by those who should have been instruments of Christ’s healing.
    In situations like this, I am reminded of Joseph’s words to his hateful brothers: “You meant it for evil…but God meant it for good.” I pray that God will bring good into your lives through this.
    Kat

  2. 7-27-2007

    Mrs. Anonymous, it almost sounds like you and I could be part of the same congregation. I know almost exactly how you feel, because I’m right in the middle of the exact same sorts of relational situations.

  3. 7-28-2007

    Mrs. Anonymous,

    Thank you for sharing so honestly. My heart hurts for you and your family because of what you are going through. I also understand your fear of not wanting to get hurt again. Know that there are many who can relate with you and who can walk with you out in the blogosphere.

  4. 7-28-2007

    Mrs. Anonymous,

    Oh, where to begin? I think we could quote the entire Bible in your defense.

    After Christians experience the Truth in Christ it seems trivial to us when others aren’t seeing it as clearly. But, they can be blinded and not yet have ears to hear.

    We should consider ourselves fortunate that we suffer as we do. Believe me, I know, thats easier said than done. But, Jesus said we would suffer because of Him, so we will.

    He says the world will hate us because of Him. Where we error is when we assume only non “church people” are the world. Certainly no person claiming to be a christian, a pastor, an elder, a deacon, etc., could be considered “the world”, right? WRONG!

    Jesus came to this earth and turned mans traditions upside down. He challenged the religious systems of His day and the systems’ leaders, the Pharisees, not only persecuted and ultimately killed Him for it, but convinced many others it was the right thing to do.

    No, “the world” as we think of it (non religious, secular people) tried to spare His life.(Pontius Pilate) It was the religious Pharisees who manipulated them into doing their dirty work for them.

    We are dealing with an extremely deceptive and wise enemy. I don’t think it’s too far fetched to believe Gods enemy sets religious traps for mankind. Deceiving us,containing us, bogging us down, and turning us into idle and lukewarm hearers only. Seems rather brilliant to me.

    So, in closing, I would encourage you to keep seeking Him and be convinced that the persecution means you must be doing something right.

    Lord bless,

    Jeff

  5. 7-28-2007

    Mrs. Anon -

    I am so sorry that you have experienced all that you have. Praying that the Lord will guide you and use you as HE sees fit … Blessings!

    ~Heather

  6. 7-28-2007

    I appreciate everyone’s comments, especially the comfort and support that you’ve spoken towards Mrs. Anonymous and her family.

    Has her story helped you to consider those among the church that you know that may be hurting or lonely? How do you think God can use you in their lives?

    -Alan

  7. 7-28-2007

    To my sister in Christ,

    My heart aches for you and your family. It may not help to ease the pain, but please know that our family has also been through similar circumstances. We have suffered abuse many times while serving as leaders in the church…nearly twenty years in a pastoral role and nearly ten more in a denominational role.

    There are many more like us. A friend of mine wrote a book entitled, So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore, and I would encourage you to read it (free to read online or download as a PDF file). Written as fiction, it has really helped me and others process the hurt and sort through these things from a really unique perspective.

    I wish you the best for a bright future of living loved by Father and free from those who would put you in bondage through guilt and manipulation.

    Blessings,

    Bill Lollar
    The Thin Edge of the Wedge

  8. 7-30-2007

    Alan,

    My wife and I have been away for a few days, so haven’t seen Alan’s blog since we left. I am so filled with mixed emotions about this testimony. I have seen far too much of this behavior. This wonderful land in which I live is rife with stories such as that of Mrs Anonymous.

    Mrs Anonymous! Just remember that it is your relationship with the Shepherd that matters most. We are born again by by grace through God’s gift of faith, not of works. We are God’s children by virtue of the great sacrificial, propitiatory work of Jesus Christ, not by our satisfying the whims and moods, rules and regulations imposed by men and women who ought to know better.

    From this old, imperfect sinner to you, focus your gaze upon our precious Brother and Friend, who loves us with such an amazing love that He shed His blood to set us free,and is our Advocate before the Father as I write. Dear sister! Do not allow your gaze to be held by the fleshly shackles by which religious men and women seek to bind.

    There may be some brothers and sisters in that group you are speaking of, but your description defies any resemblance to the relationship describing the family of God revealed in Scripture.

  9. 7-30-2007

    Mrs. I’ll be praying for you and you’re family. May God pour out the riches of his grace and wisdom and most of all may his Holy Spirit wrap his arms of love around you and every person in your family.

  10. 7-31-2007

    To everyone who left such encouraging, loving comments– thank you so much. Your words did much to restore/maintain my hope that there is a place for us where we can be fully known and fully loved. Blessings to you all.

    “Mrs. Anonymous”

  11. 8-3-2007

    Greetings Everyone!

    Hi Alan, long time no see. i’m Jave…

    hahaha, finally i get the opportunity to see a post like this. Well, in fact these things happens in almost every churches, just slightly different issues. Same goes to my church, in one church i’m disliked, despised; in another i’m loved, looked-up to.

    But to Mrs. Anonymous, i think i have a word for you too… We don’t emphasize on a ‘Church’, or a ‘Congregation’, or a ‘Group’ … because the Church of God is NOT a building, NOT a name, NOT a place; but rather it is a People of True Disciples. Think about it, when Israel was without prophet for about 400 years, it was the Pharisees that upheld the Law, and maintained the knowledge of God among Israelites. They started with good intention, isn’t it? But human nature comes with ignorance, after centuries, the Pharisees became hypocrites rather than ‘true teachers’ of the Law. Have you thought about it: WHY God, despite teaching us UNITY, yet allowed today’s 2000 over types of churches to exist?? … then which church is right? which group is true? which congregation is appropriate?? How to distinguish?? … Allow me to tell you the reason why God allowed such thing… It is because the LORD is gracious and merciful, He does not force people to listen or just simply annihilate sinners without giving them a chance of repentance. The LORD speaks to those who are willing to LISTEN. Just like how He led Abraham out of his people, his home, his relatives, but bring his family out from that land to the place God led him to. Here, the ‘land’ represents a ‘church’, the ‘people’ living in that land represents a ‘church community’, his relatives represents those we’re close to in ‘church’ … But in God, there is NO partiality. Again i repeat, the LORD speaks only to those who are willing to LISTEN.

    ^^ Church, we must go, to attend the sacred assembly every week; but it doesn’t mean that we must put sooooooo much importance into a particular church or its community. Like it or not, the Church of God is made up of true Disciples, there’s not a certain number of these people. In fact, it might change everyday… And NO records of the number is needed, because God Himself knows His number of true ‘sheep’. Me, i don’t intend to CHANGE the church i’m in, but rather BUILD the ‘Church of God’ through the service of Love in His Ministry of Reconcilation. The people that i serve and bring into the ‘Church of God’ might be those from the ‘church’ i’m attending, might be non-christians, might be people from other churches, anywhere in the world. Simply, the Church of God is a ‘Spiritual Church’, no walls, no boundaries, no limit. Who belongs to the Church of God? They are those who are humble in listening, those who live-out Love and Peace, those who practice solely the Truth with NO partiality. < - Their works will stand before the fire of the LORD, and in His grace, may their 'Love' for Him (without expecting for returns, without greed), be rewarded as the LORD promised.

    In fact, for all that posted by Alan, i have much to share. But i guess Alan and others’ sharing are already very detailed and enough to build a ‘true disciple’, and actually, i’m quite lazy to write too… XD !! hahaha! Forgive me, or sometimes, LONG messages might offend others too (here in Asia), so if i did offended anyone, i’m sorry. PLEASE forgive me, thanks!

    Best Wishes~

    unworthy brother,
    Jave Ithiel

  12. 12-14-2011

    That all resonates so deeply on so many different levels. I think sometimes we are confused in our understanding of the term “church”. We have had it ingrained in us that church is a place where we go to meet up with God’s children. Actually “CHURCH” is the children themselves. The word church means “called out ones”. It seems to me that the church as an institution has taken on a life of it’s own…which was never intended. It’s not the church that Christ has built…that’s US. As for me…I’m outside the box…but definately in the body. We need to start connecting as members of Christ, rather than as members of a particular brand of church…BE the church…not go to the church.

  13. 12-14-2011

    Mrs. Anonymous, as a former full time pastor, I am so sorry for they way you and your family have been treated. There is a dangerous movement within the church today that places the program over people. It often is an effort to fill the pews at any cost. Often “excellence” equals “targeting.” By that I mean that this new movement targets the college educated, late twenties – mid thirties families with 2.5 children. Their method is to make church “fun” so that “seekers” will come, listen, and eventually (hopefully) realize that “christianity” is for them. Having been part of this “movement” very briefly several years ago, I soon realized that those who didn’t fit the “mold” were quite literally ignored. (After confronting the pastor and getting nowhere, I resigned as associate).
    In your case it sounds like the leadership is legalistic, which often results in a cold and uncaring attitude towards those who don’t meet their expectations. Very sad indeed.
    At this point, it would probably do your family good to find a church that isn’t caught up in “excellence.” One of my friends, Christianlady over at http://christianlady.wordpress.com/ has been through some of what you are going through and is willing to talk (anonymously).
    May God bless you and your family.

  14. 12-14-2011

    If it is possible, I would like to use your story at my blog, yourtendermecries.wordpress.com

  15. 12-14-2011

    Please find ANOTHER church.

    Not ALL churches are like that!
    But I have seen again AND AGAIN, that SOME CHURCHES are like that alot.
    Find a different one, if not for yourself, for your precious children.

    I GUARANTEE they see the hypocrisy (ask your son).
    Don’t let “fear of the unknown” or the love of things that are comfortable FOR YOU guide you.

  16. 12-14-2011

    oh, mrs. anonymous, i am just so sorry for you and your family and all you’ve been through. i can relate. i am still hurting, more than 5 years later after being burned by a similar “church” experience.

    please find another church. leave this one asap. it was very hard for me to believe that there was a good church out there, but i found a couple, and i believe that God has one for you, too.

    if you want to cut to the chase, make up a list of questions/non-negotiables and ask to meet with the pastor before you attend services. if he doesn’t have time for you, well, he probably wont have time for you when you attend. and you’ll get perspective on the church’s vision and direction directly from the source.

    i myself am struggling with “my fear is going to turn into a self-protective distancing of myself from the God-designed relationships He has in store for me.” as you said. i’ve just been hurt so many times, it is hard to even think about being vulnerable again. but God is opening my heart to the idea, and he’ll keep working on me.

    God bless you and your family. please know that you are not the problem. this “church” is the problem.

  17. 12-15-2011

    Dear hurting friend;

    I can relate. I have backed out of church for the last year because of some of the things you mention.

    This coming Sunday is the first Sunday I will try attending again. Our church is filled with hurting people. But church it often not a safe sanctuary to share our burdens. In fact if we do, they often get passed around like gossip.

    We had 2 tragedies in our family. Everyone thinks we should be over it and should get on with life. It’s hard to lose a child. There are some days when it is tough. Obviously a christian should not grieve longer than 3 months to a year. The perpetrator will be getting out of prison in a couple months.

    I’ve never felt more alone. I’ll be praying for you.

  18. 12-15-2011

    Thanks everyone who left recent comments. This post was originally published about 4 years ago. However, I’m glad that it has recently been “reborn.” The problems brought up by our anonymous sister are still prevalent among many churches, unfortunately.

    My point in posting this originally was for all of us to consider how we are treating our brothers and sisters.

    -Alan

  19. 4-16-2012

    Mans attempt to create life,(church) is framed within the terms of mechanical, (robotic). Jesus’ terms were and are organic, natural, and real.

    No matter the “skill” of mans form, it is a very pale compared to experiencing in the setting of Jesus’ way.

  20. 4-16-2012

    Oh . . . Mrs Anonymous! I’m right there with you. It’s so sad.

    People say things that hurt. People do things that hurt. Sometimes programs are changed without the input of everyone involved. This happened to me – and all the 3rd, 4th, 5th & 6th graders left our church. A few went to other churches, but most just stopped attending period.

    I taught an adult SS class for years and years. For 3 years I had a stalker (from one of my classes). I had to drive 20 miles one way to work. I never knew where this guy would be along the route. He would show up at my work place & scare everyone. He would try to drive me off the road on my way home at night. He came to my house. It was a horrible and terrifying time.

    What did the church leaders say “You are a woman in a leadership position. Some men find that exciting” That’s what the pastor said. Another person said “Just stand up to him. It’s terrible that you are acting this way. We don’t want it to get back to his wife”.

    After our 15 y/o son died, another SS teacher said “Sometimes it takes a lot to wake us up”. That was 25 years ago.

    Why are we (the church) so judgemental?
    Why do we think we know everything about another person’s situation?
    Why do we even need to know everything about another persons situation?
    Why can’t we just pray for each other with out the gossip part.

    There is a verse in the Bible that I had my 5th & 6th graders memorize each year. It was “Do not think more highly of your self than others”. Something like that. Another verse was something like “Put up with one another”. And heaven knows I tried.

    I haven’t been to church for over a year now. I want to start back, but I am literally afraid.

  21. 6-1-2012

    I think all churches or most churches have some or all of these issues. Churches are run by people and people create these issues. When you have more than one person in a group, you have politics.

    I think it’s hard to find the right church fix. I think “shopping” for a church is one of the most important things we can do. And I think the attitude has to be one of balance…first, does this church preach the Word. Second, what does this church offer my family (and what are my family’s true needs?)? Third, is there a place for my family to contribute to this church, from our hearts, not just fill a spot or slot the church needs filled as it grows.

    These are legitimate questions any family can and should ask of a church.

  22. 6-1-2012

    Alan
    There have been a few times in the history of Gods people (OT and NT) that
    ‘reformers’ stood up against the prevailing leadership and changed history.
    It seems to me that widespread stories like this beg for such an action.
    Scripture says nothing about anyone leaving a church because of poor or bad leadership, but it does say that God kept the bulk of His children together and arranged for the removal of offending leaders.
    “THEY went OUT from among US, because they were not of US”
    We have it backwards.
    We leave and they stay.
    If there was ever a time for those of us who have Joshua’s spirit that cry’s ‘As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord’, its now.
    My advice to any and all who find themselves in this woman’s plight is to turn the tables on leaders that offend and/or eat the flock rather than lead them to green pastures.
    The devilish teaching of ‘the divine right of pastors’ to do what they think is just as pernicious as the divine right of Kings was in its day, and history proved that we can get rid of kings and still be one united people.
    We need to defend and empower the faithful downtrodden and oppressed within churches to stay instead of leave, speak the truth in love and boldness, call the majority faithful to hold the minority faithless to account, even if they are ‘leaders’.
    Leaders who don’t practice and train their followers to care for one another are not leaders; they are goats or wolves, and need to be removed. This poor woman is now a lone sheep, one of millions, who have left the fold, and are easy prey, while a few selfish ‘shepherds’ hold the rest of the flocks in bondage.
    God is waiting for a few Gideons, Joshua’s, Nehemiahs’ Ezra’s, Jeremiahs etc to say ‘This is wrong, and we aren’t doing it anymore’.
    Ive done this exact thing in a different church context, and it was and still is messy and painful, but everyone saw the issue clearly, and as the years go by, families are gathering courage to dare to speak out in defense of Gods right to run His family His way, and any leader that doesnt follow Him has to go.
    We need to just do it and watch God back up those who humbly, boldly and truthfully defend His honor and lay down their life for His sheep.
    blessings
    Greg

  23. 6-1-2012

    Thanks for continuing to discuss this issue. I think if we truly understood that we treat others is the way we treat Jesus, we would admit that we often ignore, him, malign him, or slap him across the face. He cares for his children very much…

    -Alan

  24. 6-1-2012

    A few thoughts when it comes to being part of any assembly/church/congregation – whatsoever you may call it.

    1- Not all organized assemblies have such hurtful leadership.
    2- Any church is subject to one major flaw – humans.
    3- Anyone can fail you. Humans is as humans does.
    4- No one deserves to be abused in any way by anyone for any reason at any time.
    5- If anyone, leader or not, does not at least listen to a suggestion or a reasonable disagreement, especially with no discussion of the matter…they are not worth your time.
    6- If a congregation only cares or pays attention to a point, they do not completely care. It may only be a matter of basic obligation, just enough to make someone “see” how they “care”.
    7- No matter what…the Scriptures stand and the Lord is always faithful.

    I say this as one who was with a church for 20 years and found that leaving was the only option, seeing how they slipped into serious error and false doctrine (for which there was no discussion). People failing and human error is a given, but sometimes we need to move on. Actually, we did this after some time of waiting for the Lord to release us…it is best to seek the Lord’s will in any situation.

  25. 6-4-2012

    John,

    I agree.

    -Alan

  26. 6-4-2012

    Can I steal some of these comments to post on my status? It seems whenever I share this blog, no one even reads it…. (figures). I would like to share what Janet and Greg has said.
    I would also like to ask Greg, how can we change from the inside if we are cast out for even asking questions? I was not allowed to stay! I wanted to, I was willing to, but I was not welcome to stay.

  27. 6-4-2012

    Sheree. with great humility, courage, patience and collective wisdom if you can find it among your people. your understanding of authority must be based on Gods definition of authority. obedience is authority and that authority is recognized by everyone that knows the life of that leader. leaders that do not love all the brothkers equally, and will not accept correction are not obedient, definitely not listening to the holy spirit, and therefore have no authority. in fact they require discipling and discipline and those who are spiritual among you are instructed to restore them in the spirit of meekness. if they are anyone will not repent of his pride, after much long suffering, and spirit led prayer for wisdom, it may be necessary to

  28. 6-4-2012

    sorry, smartphones aren’t sometimes.
    it may be necessary to put on the pressure,
    as the lord leads you, to let them know that god is serious.
    do just about anything short of compromise to restore them.
    they have lost a love that allows them to see you as close family. do not respond the same way. b prepared to go to any length necessary, as if they were a close family member, to help them to see their way back to jesus, and you.
    you are not evil speaking if you include others in your sincere pray cry for the love in the holiness of god to allow you to stay, as well is them. leaving a church is divorce and it should not be allowed to be easy. roberts rules of order do not and cannot apply. this is agonizing, messu and unscripted. tolerate no gossip anger or accusations from anyone.
    speak the truth in love even if you are the only one. refuse to accept the loss of the even 1 brother or sister who is truly god’s child. b prepared to be more lovingly stubborn than they are stubborn.

    if you do this, you may indeed be kicked out but I think before you go you will find others who also refuse to let the enemy drive a wedge among gods people, no matter what kind. this is spiritual battle against principalities and powers that have been lying and deceiving god’s people for many many generations. satan heard god say that he would get a people for himself who were 1 in his son, united in the love of jesus, and who would crush his head. dividing us has ben his most effective way to stop us. its way past time that we expose him, and get back to work together to destroy his works. accept nothing less. never give up. blessings greg

  29. 6-4-2012

    Sheree,

    As always, you’re welcome to use anything that I write here. Since the others left public comments, I would think you can use what they wrote also. I would suggest you give them credit though. I hope it works out for you.

    -Alan

  30. 6-6-2012

    This is very similar to my church experiences too

  31. 6-6-2012

    Hey Greg, thanks for your suggestions, but I have been blocked from any contact with this group of people. Therefore I cannot do anything you have suggested :(

  32. 7-31-2012

    I’ve heard of stories like this for years, not really believing it or thinking they were isolated incidences. And now, it’s finally happening to us. After serving and leading in our local body for decades we too have been marginalize (I will spare you the details). We are striving to be at peace with all men, and I’m entrusting myself to Him who judges justly. But whether we leave or stay we will do everything we can to be reconciled and to have the situation resolved.
    This rejection has been one of the most difficult things in my life. Not only for my own hurt, and the hurt of my husband and children, but it is such a distraction from the glory of God and the focus on Jesus.
    If we would obey the “one another” verses……….

  33. 7-31-2012

    Okay, so…

    If I said this kind of thing is common and almost expected within ‘institutional Christianity’, would that sound off-base?

    When we make it about OUR CHURCHES, ie, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, etc, and slice The Bride apart so we can have comfort within our own theologies, the enemy comes in like a hungry lion. Denominations have never served The Kingdom; denominations serve themselves at the expense of The Kingdom.

    However, when an ekklesia meets together and literally has Christ as their Head, this kind of stuff rarely occurs. When it does it is due to foolish pride and a warped sense of self-importance, and the other brothers handle it quickly and accordingly.

    All that to say, I don’t miss attending institutional churches. At all. I don’t miss the social cliques, the mandatory smiles and handshakes, the awkward conversations with strangers, and the overpowering stench of flowery perfumes and cheap after-shave on people who feel that we all want to glory in their odor.

  34. 7-31-2012

    Thanks everyone for continuing to read and respond to this guest post. Hopefully, we all seek to show compassion and love to those who have been hurt, especially those who have been hurt by brothers and sisters in Christ. Regardless of the situation, we can show the kindness and comfort of Jesus Christ.

    -Alan

  35. 10-22-2012

    GOD BLESS THE CHURCH W/ALL ITS MEMBERS~sadly this scenario will always be out there, since the CHURCH will always be made of imperfect people who will be in different stages of belief, maybe, even NOT yet, truly believing…it was my similar experience when I was a young mom of 2 boys…struggling to bring them up, mostly in a legalistic church environment, w/husband/dad having to work most nights/weekends…I found Christian radio to supplement my walk for what was NOT meeting the needs of my spiritual growth, though attending to be in fellowship/feeling the need to be used within…striving not to dwell in offense and hurt, as our sister…asked GOD for His Strength and Support, w/prayer, And, remembering our identity IN CHRIST, is Crucial, so as to be a witness For CHRIST, even if, sadly, it is within church walls~plenteous opportunity, many are there ONLY in body.
    MUST PRAY FOR GOD’S WILL FIRST, But, I DO believe in the visitation of other churches for different seasons, but that can be easily said for me, since we have moved many times over the years.

  36. 10-22-2012

    Good on you Alan for being so gracious in dealing with this situation. Perhaps I am not gracious enough at times. When I hear of stories like this I want to tear my hair out. It’s weird, but I have never experienced these things directly myself in an institutional church, but I have seen it happen to SO many people.

    All I want to say to you Mrs Anonymous, is that you are my sister, and in Christ I pray that the Lord blesses your family. May the Lord give you the care you need. Don’t be afraid of loving the Lord outside of church. Take the opportunity to pray with your family.

    As far as your husband is concerned, what a champion! I hope you guys get a holiday some time. That’s what you need more than a sympathetic pastoral team.

    And as far as the big picture is concerned, I have said it before and I say it again, so much of these institutional lies stem from the fact that the majority of “churches’ are part of a Constantinian system which promotes wrong authority, what Jesus referred to as “Lording it over them”.

    A priest hood of all believers, where Jesus is the High Priest is the only way to go. Having said that I like elders too (I think they are biblical). The best kind of elders are the kind who have grey hair, who will sit down for a cup of tea and cake, and probably babysit your kids too! They are the kind that care for you no matter what. They probably won’t have any sermon to preach, but I bet they will hold your hand, cry with you and pray with you and pray many times for you when you aren’t looking. They are better listeners than me too!

    May the Lord bless you Mrs Anonymous with these kind of people, and I hope they are the kind who don’t go to institutional church. (Just being honest).

    Ok, all my love. That’s it for now. May Jesus be glorified, may we be humbled.

  37. 10-22-2012

    CS and Paul,

    Thanks for continuing the discussion on this post. Hopefully, as more followers of Jesus read this, we’ll turn more and more toward helping one another.

    -Alan

  38. 3-20-2013

    My family like this woman’s have gone through the same things. This could be the Church we went to. We have tried several different church’s since. I refuse to go as I am seen as a single woman and they are highly looked down on in church’s. I am married but my husband is an “over the road” Truck Driver. He is not home on most Sundays so he is not available to go with me. We have been chided for his inability to get to church although if he is at a Truck stop with a Chapel he goes. We used to be very active in the church, but when he went on the road to support us I was no longer needed. So I can understand the hurt, I have felt it first hand. There is no worse feeling than that of being alone in a church full of people that are supposed to understand Christ’s love for all of us.

  39. 3-21-2013

    Mary,

    I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been treated like that among the church. Unfortunately, we’ve replaced “love one another” with rules and regulations related to the organizations and structures that we’ve created.

    -Alan

  40. 3-21-2013

    Mary
    there have been and will be many ‘falling away’ and ultimately there will be a great falling away. I suspect though, that the falling away will not be from church attendance, program participation or seminary training, but rather from walking in humility, truth and love with one another.
    We probably havnt yet seen the horrific and eternal consequences that we will when many, many professing followers will abandon the little veneer remaining, and five themselves over to lawlessness.
    Every generation and civilization has its scapegoats, outcasts and outliers, and we are not all christians. But if we are, our pain is exquisite because our tears are a mirror response to Gods weeping heart for those of us that will not surrender to the bonds of His tender love.
    There will not be a pro-scripted or explainable solution in this life, other than to hang onto Jesus and risk hanging onto whoever bears His fruit, with long suffering forgiving love.
    The Psalmist expressed the same cry with ‘the death of His saints is precious in His eyes’, as he was being hunted in the wilderness by false brethren.
    Our journey is similar to many here, and we have counseled our 4 children to accept, with joy and humility, the rejection of anyone who will not let Jesus heal them.
    Together, we repeatedly claw our way to Him, finding abiding joy that we are coming to know Him in the power of His resurrection, in the fellowship of His sufferings, as we are being made conformable to His death. Phil.3:10
    Its at least a comfort that we have a few of each other, and that’s enough, though we are a leaderless, motley crew.
    At different points in a collective journey, together we look for a city that has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Unlike the blaze earthly city image most of us were taught to envision in Sunday School and bible studies, and that we are being painfully weaned away from desiring, His city is alive and vibrant with love, kindness and joy, often in the midst of crying, loneliness and even fear.
    But Jesus is there, and we cant leave.
    The ‘church’, as constructed and managed by men, is not that city either, though many in the church are citizens of His city.
    Wherever, and however we find one another, our fellowship is sweet, and hope is kindled to meet each other later, at Jesus feet.
    See ya.
    blessings
    Greg

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