The Church. A place of love and joy and peace. A sanctuary of safety. A haven where the flock gathers and works together and loves one another with the love of Jesus and builds one another up and spurs one another on and helps one another grow.

At least that’s the idea.

Sadly, this is not always the case. In fact, there’s a lot going on in churches across the nation that Jesus would never have endorsed—or tolerated.

Three different times this week this topic has surfaced among people I’ve watched suffer deep and damaging church abuse. One of those people is a friend who has been a mentor for nearly 30 years. His ministry has been his life since before I met him, and a few months ago it was cut blindingly short by a dagger of deception so sinister he and his family are still reeling. The fallout has been severe, not only for him but for all who know and love him—and this man of God has an innumerably wide reach. Put simply, what was done to him is unconscionable. The fact that it was done in the name of God makes it even more despicable.

But are these the things we dare not write about or speak out loud? Are these the things we sweep under the vestibule rug and pretend never happened, all in the name of not further harming the Church’s reputation? Is this healthy? Is this beneficial? Is this right?

Where is the line—for certainly there is one, is there not—between diplomacy and deception? Can we call out the practices that are harming God’s people and sending them running away from Him as fast as their weakened legs will carry them?

Perhaps the more accurate question is how can we not?

What if we started believing we have not only the right but the responsibility to call out sinful treatment of God’s people in the Church? What if we started understanding that such vigilance when done in genuine love is not destructive but healing and growth-inducing?

What if we stopped tolerating hatefulness and abuse and selfishness and greed going on in the name of church and stood up and said, “Enough”? Wouldn’t Jesus have done so? Didn’t He call out things people were doing and call them wrong out loud?

We don’t have to use a hammer. If the pen is mightier than the sword, can our words be prayerfully woven and used to effect positive change within the Church? How many lives might be made more lovely? How many lives might ultimately be saved?

Can we continue on in silence while abused believers limp around on shattered stained glass and carry those slivers out the door with them perhaps never to return?

Who will save His children if not us? Isn’t it time we speak out?


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A Write Where It Hurts Column Post

2 thoughts on “The church it was never meant to be

  1. The church leadership is absolutely responsible for protecting the members from abusive behavior but usually they turn away and do nothing to meet it head-on and deal with it properly. Nothing is wrong with calling these people out publically, within the church, and bringing them to account for their sinful behavior is well within the right of the leadership and membership. The Apostle Paul actually required it. There is nothing like a little public shame to, hopefully, bring these people to repentance. The abusive people that hurt your friend should be removed from attending this church for a time, if they repent and make amends with the people they hurt then bring them back. If they refuse, then let them go.

    You said what was done to your friend was done in the name of God. I’ve lost count how many times my wife and I were beaten over the head with the precious cross of Jesus Christ within the church. I guess that is why we don’t go to church anymore. As it is, there are no churches in our area to go to and the last one we attended was torn apart from within from the sin, greed and just plain ugly behaviour from so many of the members and the Pastor.

    Tell you friend to take care. Tell him to keep his eyes on the Lord and to forgive the offenders.

  2. Your words are very much appreciated, John. I am truly sorry you and your wife have been harmed by abuses within the church. It breaks my heart when I hear of this happening, and sadly it is happening all too often any more. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your heart. I will be praying God draws you and your wife ever closer to His side.

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