There’s an ugly secret about the church: the church has hurt a lot of people. If you’ve been in the church long enough, you probably have a scar or two to show for it. As a pastor’s kid, I was mostly immune to it, but I felt it for my friends. I remember in high school when a buddy of mine came into the church building with a hat on. A deacon came up and hit him upside the head, ripping his hat off and demeaning him for having the audacity (as an unchurched kid) to wear a hat.
I remember as a youth pastor seeing an older couple yell at two visiting youth because they were sitting in their pew. I remember being on stage, unable to do anything because the service had already started, watching the shame and embarrassment come over these visitors who had no idea they had taken somebody’s seat and had to get up and move somewhere else.
I remember a minister friend who was fired by his church because black kids wanted to come to his white church and he welcomed them with open arms. The leadership ran off those kids and my friend with them.
I remember two weeks ago talking to a young lady who grew up in church, loved the church, and the church loved her . . . until she got a divorce. That was the unforgivable sin, and although she tried to stay involved with her church for community and support, they let it be known that she was no longer welcome. So she left, staying away from church for far too long (her words) until she regained the courage to venture back out into church world.
Church scars. If you’ve been in church long enough, you probably have some. It shouldn’t be like this, but it is. I asked a question recently on Facebook that asked people to share their church scars. Here were some of their responses:
- [My husband] and I both were very involved in youth groups and both got a bad taste in our mouth so to speak for church due to things that happened with our youth pastors.
- As a very young Christian I think it was feeling like I couldn’t measure up. The church was very condemning and I was a babe in Christ so didn’t understand the grace of my Savior.
- After we moved back to Columbus, we joined a church and attended for 8 years. I never felt “at home” the whole time we attended. Then a situation arose that caused quite a few members to leave, including us.
- I grew up in church and was there for every event and activity as a child and through youth. But, after some stuff went down, my feelings were hurt and I resented the church.
We can defend, explain and try to resolve, but let’s start by admitting that the church has hurt a lot of people.
QUESTION: What are your church scars? (Comment below and share yours)