What To Do When the Church Fails You

biblereadingchallenge_day196There are times in life when it seems as though “the church” has failed us.

Have you ever been there?

You see, the church consists of a body of human beings, to expect this body to be flawless is not logical. Yet many of us have been there- those situations in church that we truly didn’t enjoy. No matter if it is because we disagree on the decisions being made, or we feel that people are not treated properly.

Now I’m not talking about the color of the carpet or pews or the committee taking care of the tea tables is “just not getting it right.” These are not church problems. Well, they are, but of a superficial sort. I mean heart decisions. Decisions that make a difference in the everyday lives of folks. Church issues that just don’t belong “in church.”

The real problem is not with the church; there’s no doubt the church will make mistakes. Simply because it is a group of people.

And humans make mistakes.

The most frustrating part of the church making mistakes is not knowing what to do about it.

Do we leave? or do we stick it out and hope for a change?

Do we stay no matter what? 

I believe the Bible really guides us with answers to these questions through the principles we find in it. While many more aspects exist to this broad topic, today the discussion is knowing what to do when the church fails you.

church

1. Take heart in what Jesus said about his church.

“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matt. 16:18

No matter the issue of hurt, harm or anguish, Jesus is the head of the church and this will never change.

2. Stay in God’s Word and continually pursue your direct relationship with the heavenly Father.

“so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11

God’s Word is always successful. People within churches will fail. Leaders and teachers make mistakes. Friends say things that they later wish they hadn’t.  But God’s Word is reliable and true.

3. Listen to the Holy Spirit living inside of you as a Christian.

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:13

The Holy Spirit of the Living God speaks to us and for us. When we are living in close relationship with God, the close proximity of our heart to His allows us the privilege of hearing as He speaks to us with peace in our decision-making processes.  If you are walking with God and do not feel peace about a situation, our God is not the author of confusion. (I Cor. 14:33) There is a reason the Holy Spirit is not giving you peace and this should guide your decisions in church situations.

No matter the story or problem or disagreement, the Bible is clear that as Christians we are to be an active part of the church. The one God has for you will clearly be revealed to you when the above three principles are followed.

How have you handled it when the church failed you?

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6 Comments

  1. Ms. Rachel

    I have a question, what social impact does the church play, today. The church is not at the forefront in education for all nor is it trying to assist the elderly. What I have seen from the institution called the church; well, a economical social hangout. The church of today does not stand up against injustice.

    I under the verses which you gave, but the first century church was organic. Today’s church has marketing schemes and focus on individuality. So, if christianity is the fulfillment of Judaism, then why did we lose so much of the corporate aspects of that religion?

    1. Well, it’s a great question, Kharis. I understand your frustrations, as it does seem that education and the elderly are forgotten in many churches today. I agree with you that we have lost many of the beautiful aspects of the church throughout the ages of Christianity, but God’s Word remains the same. The church is still the living, functioning body that God designed it to be but it will remain a body with issues as long as we are on this earth. The church will only be perfect in Heaven. Thank you for commenting!

  2. Important topic, Rachel. Thanks for opening the door to discussion.

  3. As someone who worked as a psychologist for a large church, I have run into this issue many, many times – including in my own life.
    I think sometimes the answer is not to run away from the problem, but to face it head on. Pull aside those who have hurt you, and make an attempt to reconcile. I think so very often, the people who hurt us don’t know they are hurting us – as imperfect humans, we tend to act out of selfish motivation, and that selfish acting can translate into causing pain to others. I heard a great quote the other day: “People are not against you, they are for themselves.” Sometimes we need to gently help those who are hurting us to realize that their selfishness is causing harm.

    However, there is a flip side to this. I am sure you and everyone reading this blog has been there – a deeply unhealthy church is NOT a good place to be. There are, unfortunately, pastors out there who spiritually manipulate and abuse, and congregations who, for whatever reason, are simply very unhealthy. If this is the case, there is absolutely nothing wrong with deciding to find a different place where your spiritual growth will flourish. I frequently gave out this article in my years of counseling Christian women.

    I also think – and I think some might disagree with me here, I’ll be curious to hear some opinions – that in the case of deep hurt, it is ok take a break from church for a little while. In fact, it can be downright healing. I have recommended this to a number of my clients who came from spiritually abusive churches, and that time of rest was so important – being able to hear God’s voice in their life during a church “sabbath” can be an important experience. I did this in my own life, after a very bad, very ugly experience with a power-hungry pastor who drove a church into the ground. I took a year off, and came back to a different church deeply renewed, and able to hear God’s voice with great clarity and a direction to my life that I may not have heard if I had immediately plunged myself back into another congregation.

    1. Thank you so much for adding to the conversation, Amy! I truly appreciate your feedback and information. I wish I had more time at the moment to elaborate, but your experience speaks strongly to the issue. Church can be the most wonderful place on earth to be. But it can also be a tough place to be. In the last few weeks, so many folks that come by here has expressed hurt in this area, that I felt the Lord whispering to my heart to address it. Appreciate you!

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