I’ve been through more church hurt than I would wish on anyone. To put it plainly, church hurt hurts. There’s no way around it. And while many areas of life can break us, church is perhaps the place we least expect or wish it to happen.
What I Wish Church to Be (and Why It’s Not Like That)
In an ideal world, church is a community of perfect people who love and support each other no matter what. In an ideal world, the members of a church never argue, always listen to God’s leading, and always stick to what the Bible says in every situation. In an ideal world, no one would come out of church more hurt than he or she came in.
But we’re not in an ideal world.In an ideal world, church is a community of perfect people who love and support each other no matter what. But we’re not in an ideal world. Click To Tweet
Our world is a fallen one. One that was created to be perfect, but by choice of humans, is broken instead.
While a healthy local church is attended by both saved and unsaved people, no human is exempt from wrestling with sin while in this life. Even if the saved individuals are free from the power of sin and are striving to be more like Christ, they will still sin sometimes.
It’s sin in our lives that causes the problems at our churches.
It’s sin that causes the arguments, the division.
It’s sin that causes the hurt.
The Idea “Church” Comes from God, Not Us
Church is not a human invention. It comes directly from God. God is the Author of the church. Sometimes it can be right to change churches. And sometimes knowing when it is time to change churches is hard. Such a complex decision should be made through much prayer. But whether you decide to stay or leave that specific church, please don’t stop attending church altogether.
We know that Satan tries in all ways possible to fight against God’s work. If church were a mere human idea, the attack against it would never be as strong as it is. If it were a mere human idea, Satan probably wouldn’t even bother.
Churches are among the devil’s primary targets. The devil wants nothing more than for churches to crumble.
Just think about it—why would he want that? One of the answers is that he knows the power a church has when it works in unity doing what Jesus wants them to do. Churches are under so much attack because Satan knows how important churches are in God’s plan.Churches are under so much attack because Satan knows how important churches are in God’s plan. Click To Tweet
Why We Need a Local Church
While there are many, many reasons we need a church, I would like to touch on three specific ones that have become increasingly important to me.
1. Receiving Accountability
We all need accountability in our lives. None of us are strong enough on our own to resist temptation. To help us with this, God gave us different tools. One of these is accountability within our local church.
Without the kind of regular accountability the church provides, habitual sin is likely to develop in our lives. People who see us on a regular basis are able to evaluate the fruit in our lives and speak correction or encouragement accordingly. The Bible refers to fruit as the outward actions that result from what is happening on the inside.
However, for the church to be an accountability partner to us, we have to go there not only physically, but also with our hearts. We need to be an active part of the local church. We need the accountability.
2. Serving Others
Serving others, especially other believers, is something all Christians are called to do. (1 Peter 4:10) Be it a big thing or a little thing, by serving others, we are serving our Lord Jesus and fulfilling His command.
As hard as it can be, claiming to be Christians, hence, saying we love Christ, makes us responsible for loving those He loves. Jesus loved the church (us) so much that He died for us (see Ephesians 5:25). That is something we most definitely do not deserve. In the same way, we are to serve even those in the church who don’t deserve it.
3. Living Community
Believers are meant to have fellowship. The close community, which the first believers in Acts shared, may be far above what your church does. However, the time you spend with other Christians is the time you have the opportunity to share life. This fellowship can only grow if we spend time with each other.
It’s in the day-to-day that we can hold each other accountable and it’s in the day-to-day that we can best serve each other. The more our relationship with each other grows, the more we are a testimony to the unsaved. This living community that is based on the foundation of love is the greatest testimony towards the world. A love that is not bitter and does not hold a grudge. A love that rejoices in truth not evil. A love that goes beyond church hurt. (John 13:35)
A Final Word
To the teen with church hurt: I get it. Church can hurt. A lot. But please, please, do not let this turn you away from going to a local church. Do not let the mistakes or blatant disobedience of others dissuade you from obeying God’s command to live in community with fellow believers. Because ultimately, the church was God’s idea, not ours.