Even After a Bad Experience Get Back In Church
You may have had a bad church experience and don't want to go back - to any church. I had a bad experience in a restaurant one time, but I still eat.
I got sick from some bad tacos. The next few days were the most vicious way a human can lose ten pounds. My response to that experience has been to avoid that particular fast-food chain.
Though I have no plans to eat THERE, I do still plan to eat!
You may have had a bad experience in a church. If you haven't, give it time, and you'll get church hurt. And there is no way to adequately describe or diminish the pain of church hurt. When you have loved, worshiped, sacrificed, and experienced Jesus with a group of people, they become closer than family. The introduction of betrayal, division, gossip, and forsakenness into such closeness brings about a wound that is not easily healed.
But it happens. In Ephesians 4, Paul spoke into a potentially ugly church situation.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.Ephesians 4:31-32
When we go through church hurt, approach it like getting sick at a restaurant. You may not return to that restaurant, but you've still got to eat. You may not go back to THAT church, but you still need to connect with a church.
Sure, in a theoretical sense, you could stay home, love Jesus, worship God, and be filled with the Holy Spirit. The problem with that theory is that it's not our call. Our call is to gather with other believers and to devote ourselves to spiritual disciplines (Acts 2:42-47).
We must also remember that Jesus died for the church. He'll always have more invested in it than you will. He will be more hurt by it than you will. He died for it and refuses to forsake it. Despite its ugliness and worldliness, Jesus loves the church. Follow Jesus back to church!
While it's true that there is a universal church that is much easier to be a part of, we can't deny that there is a local church that we must connect with. We aren't just called to be saved. We are called to make disciples; to be a part of a missional movement that we see organizing, localizing, and congregationalizing throughout the later New Testament.
And there is NO perfect local church. It will take God's grace and forgiveness to unite with any of them. Whether you go back to your last one or find a new one you will be hurt again.
Jesus commanded us to love one another and He never offered an escape clause. Perhaps it's because there is some grace in church hurt that is a constant reminder of the ugliness of sin, the beauty of redemption, and our desperate need of Him.
You may have been hurt by a church. Excercise grace and forgiveness. Try to go back to THAT church. If the conflict can't be resolved, make sure you get back in A church.
Bible Study and Challenge
Read Ephesians 4:25-32.
- What are the commands listed in this passage?
- List any promises, guarantees, or truths contained in this passage.
- How can you apply this passage today?
Recall a past church hurt (or prepare yourself for a future one) by going through this passage and evaluating your response. What are the attitudes that need to be rebuked, repented of, and placed under the blood of Jesus? Is there anyone you need to apologize to or reconcile with? Who needs to be forgiven? Ask for God's help. This can be a painful experience but it can bring about great healing.