No matter what group of people I’m connecting with, EVERYONE has a ridiculous (or scandalous) story that comes to mind when this is brought up. A story where we or someone we love was hurt or done wrongly inside of church.
When the story is told, it’s just as fresh and raw as when it first happened.
Because enduring a wrong from someone who claims to represent God, just stings more. It cuts deeper. It goes into a mixed bag of potential fears about God, what he thinks of you, if he’s punishing you…the list of God-fear-wreckage goes on and on.
I listen as people recount the pain, heartbreak and at times trauma of what they went through.
I had a mantra I used to go into where I would say, Jesus isn’t like those people! He’s a safe place – all Christians don’t act that way!
But, throughout my career inside the church (not a particular building, but the church as a whole) I watched leaders and non-leaders alike, make a liar out of me as the same story play out.
It looks a bit like this:
You did/said something we disagree with + you no longer fit the mold/standards here = we push you out.
Whether the issue is tithing, parenting, divorce, politics, homosexuality, abortion, women in leadership, etc, it usually played out the same way.
I recently met with a precious woman who shared a story that fit into this all-too-familiar model.
It broke my heart.