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When Church Hurts

Christian, tell me why should I care about God when Christians behave so badly?

Because…God is perfect, and perfectly loving. His followers, though, are still sinners who often fail to live up to our calling.

I have a confession to make, and an apology. I grew up in church, and had amazingly positive experiences. Lately, I have been realizing more and more that not everyone has been so blessed. Some people have incredibly negative experiences with church, and with Christians. I’m sorry! And I’m sorry that I’ve been so slow to recognize your pain. Please forgive me, and my fellow Christians.

Please allow me to share some of my “church” experiences. If you aren’t familiar with Christians, or have been hurt by them, you may not be aware that this kind of thing is common.

My Experiences

As a child…

  • I remember learning to play piano on the old uprights in the children’s classrooms. My parents were teachers and had to be at church early each week, so they parked me at the piano to keep me occupied.
  • I remember playing in the empty sanctuary pews while they were in choir practice…or else sitting on the bench beside the pianist as she let me watch her play.
  • I remember running to the church library each week to find a new book to read.
  • I remember making crafts in Vacation Bible School, and saying the Pledge of Allegiance to both the American and the Christian flags.
  • I remember my first time with the children’s choir singing in “big church”. We had been told that we didn’t have to face the intimidating congregation of adults, so we all tried standing with our backs to the audience as we sang! (They eventually got us to turn around. 🙂 )
  • I remember my Sunday School teacher’s flannel-board story with a cross and a heart, teaching that “Jesus wants to come live in your heart, but He’s waiting until you invite Him in.” My response was “Of course, I want Him!”.

As an adult…

  • I remember a class party in someone’s home where the many toddlers and middle-school kids were wandering from one adult to another. It didn’t matter whose lap they were sitting on: They were safe and loved with everyone.
  • I remember our annual Christmas dinner where we pack meals for a couple of thousand needy families. We have people in the kitchen cooking, others manning a cafeteria-style serving line, and others passing down the line getting take-out boxes filled — with ham, green beans, corn, mashed potatoes, rolls and dessert — before the boxes are packed in cartons for delivery. The seniors who aren’t able to stand for long will sit at a back table and scoop out cranberry sauce or wrap up brownies. The tiniest kids stand on a chair and hand out the rolls and candy canes. Everyone participates together. I love it!
  • I remember the church rallying around my family when my father passed away suddenly from a heart attack. There were deacons with us at the hospital almost as soon as we got there. The youth leader was comforting my teenage brother. Others were at the house when we returned, keeping coffee made and making sure we didn’t have to be alone.
  • I remember a family recently who needed help paying funeral expenses for a child. The request was emailed to the church family; more than enough was donated within 48 hours.

Other Experiences

Sadly, I know that there have been bad experiences.

  • I know that there has been sexual abuse by adults who should be trustworthy, and no consequences from leaders who should be protecting the children.
  • I know that some have been — as my mother used to say — “hit over the head with a 10-pound Bible”, made to feel that they are terrible people unavoidably destined for Hell.
  • I know that some have been strangled by rules — often designed by people instead of by God — that tried to govern their every behavior and even their every thought

I also know that this is NOT what God is like!

God’s Light vs. (Faint, Dim) Human Reflections

Christians are intended to reflect and “glorify” God, to show others how wonderful He is. Sometimes we succeed, at least in a small way. Other times, we fail miserably. To those whom we have failed, again, I apologize. I ask that you look away from the reflection and toward the original Light. That would be the One who says things like these:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

John 3:16-17

I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

John 10:10

My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

Matthew 11:30

Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the LORD,
“Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool.

Isaiah 1:18

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!”

He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge

Psalm 91:1, 4

Let God Love You; He’s Dying To!

To those who have been hurt, please give God a chance to show you who He truly is.

To those in the church, please reflect God accurately. Don’t let your actions drive anyone away from Him!

Unless otherwise noted, all scripture quotations are taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture reference links go to, which defaults to another good translation, the New International Version (NIV).  The site has 20 or more translations available for reference.