When I became a believer in December 2007, I quickly joined a church and began serving in women’s ministry. My experience, however, did not end well. I found myself the target of mistreatment from women above me. I left that church despondent, hurt and confused. A few years later, we attended another church and the senior pastor was rude and arrogant. We witnessed his mistreatment toward young ministers. In our short time at that church we saw pastors come and go within a year. Regarding the members, the pastor had an obvious affection toward his wealthy members. We were ignored. During a Christmas party at the pastor’s house, he conversed with everyone there except me and my husband. He never welcomed us into his home. He didn’t say one word to us the entire evening. I have a degree in church ministries. I had to study the horror stories within churches and leadership. Why bother with church when there seems to be so much failure within its walls?
Because God tells us not to forsake the assembly. Hebrews 24-25 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
I’m not certain why church is the one place we choose to walk away from when things go wrong. We understand human mistakes when it comes to our family and friends, yet when it comes to church we have a hard time understanding that we are all human beings who fail. People are mistreated by their boss daily, yet stay at their job. Yes we have bills to pay, but I argue our soul requires that same determinination. I’m not suggesting we stay in a church that’s unhealthy and not right for our family. But we should never come to a point where we completely walk away. Leaders in church have a great responsibility, but I’m sorry to say, they will fail too. Their failure does not dictate who we are in Christ.
Macrina the Teacher, born 327 AD was set to marry, but her suitor died before the wedding could take place. Rather than wallow in misery, Macrina decided she would not consider marriage ever. Instead, she dedicated her life to God. She lived in celibacy and monastic life. She was fully devoted to God. She became so influential in her teachings that she is credited as the inspiration within her brothers, Basil the Great, Greogory of Nyssa and family friend, Greogory of Nazianzus, as they defended the Nicene Creed and the Trinity against Arianism.
Being hurt within the church and unexpected death are not exactly the same, but we can respond with resilience if we so choose. People will let us down. Sometimes life will let us down. Our dedication to God is greater. Imagine doing something so powerful for God’s Kingdom by staying committed to the church – even when we are hurt.
A few weeks ago I received an email from church that one of the Life Group leader’s cancer had returned. The Life Group leader’s only request was for meals to be taken to her 91 -year -old mother whom she takes care of. I’ve never met this Life Group leader or her mother. I have no idea who they are, yet I signed up to take a meal. One of her favorite meals listed was taco salad from Taco Bell with extra sauce and dessert. We bought it and dropped it off. My husband walked in to the door. The 91-year-old woman was so grateful. She gave my husband a kiss on the cheek. This might seem simple but this is one reason I will never leave church completely. Yes there is some bad, but dear Lord, there is so much good! I pray if you have been hurt in church you will allow God to heal you. I pray you allow God to help you mend the broken relationship with your church. And if need be, allow God to lead you to a new church home.
Do not rejoice over me, my enemy; when I fall, I will arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me. MICAH 7: 8