What We Talk About When We Talk About Church Hurt

Last week, I poked a big box called “church hurt” and started a conversation that got a little ahead of me. I knew the box was big, but didn’t know HOW big it actually is, and I want to keep talking about it. But as we move forward with this conversation and I move forward with writing my book (did you know I was writing a book about this?), I want to be clear what we are and what we are not talking about.

“Church hurt” can be used to describe a wide range of offenses, abuses, and wounds that happen within the body of Christ. It’s a way of categorizing a pain that is unique and specific. When you say, “I have some church hurt”, you’re saying that a brother or sister did something that hurt you that has affected you in ways that you’ll carry for the rest of your life. Sometimes this is one instance, but more often is a series of hurts that have occurred over time.

When I, specifically, talk about this, I’m not talking about a pastor making a decision that you didn’t agree with. I’m not talking about a leadership style that you weren’t compatible with. And I definitely am not intending to give you words to arm yourself to take your pastor or another person in your church down. I have no intentions of weaponizing anyone against anyone else.

What I’m talking about are things that are chronic, abusive, manipulative, immoral, unethical, and intentionally hurtful. I’m speaking about men and women who have abused their power, manipulated scripture for personal gain, bullied people, lied to or about them, blackmailed them, threatened them, tried to control them, or encouraged them to do things that were unethical, immoral, or illegal. I think we need to shine a spotlight on bad behavior that is unbiblical and has no place in the body of Christ. Not to cause division and trouble, but to help those who have been caught in their path of destruction heal and move forward.

If I give you words for anything in this conversation, I hope I give you words to acknowledge your pain and the wisdom to know what to do in your circumstances.

I think we can very easily diminish the true weight and impact of church hurt when the phrase is thrown around haphazardly. It’s easy to discredit and minimize someone’s pain and pass them off as bitter and troublesome. The truth is that there are millions of believers who have been wounded in deep, life altering ways. Zach and I are among them. In the past week, I have talked to hundreds of men and women with varying degrees of hurts and none of them are angry, bitter, or lacking in relationship with God. They are sad, lonely, confused, searching, and feeling like they are the only ones that have ever experienced this kind of pain. They are searching for understanding, for hope, for healing. It’s one of those things that you’re not supposed to talk about, so you sit and suffer in silence for fear of causing problems or being seen as divisive. But that’s not biblical, and it’s not always wise.

And so … we’re talking about it and we’re gonna keep talking about it. But I just want to be really direct about what exactly we mean when we say “church hurt” so that anyone who is new to the conversation has context and clarity.

Thanks for diving in with me.

follow along on instagram if you’re interested in the conversation : instagram.com/kristen.lavalley

Kristen LaValleyComment