When church people hurt you it can be a painful experience. Because the church is supposed to be a community of faith. The Bride of Christ. A spiritual hospital for sinners. And yet, the haven for spiritual recovery can also dish out the spiritual hurt. And when you’re the victim, you may feel angry, abandoned, and betrayed. Here are some thoughts to guide in your recovery.
When church people hurt you, don’t blame God
Whenever we suffer it’s natural to ask God why? Sometimes even blame him for it. But it’s not God’s fault when church people hurt you. Why? Because…
God gives us free will
Church people exercise free will like everyone else
Free will and the decisions we make are influenced by a sinful heart
That means when people exercise their freewill–even church people–their words and actions are sometimes harmful. God may have permitted it, but he didn’t cause it. Nor is it His will. So don’t blame him for something people are responsible for.
It’s also natural to direct anger toward the church. And to punish it by dropping out, which only makes Satan celebrate. However, your pain was likely caused by one or maybe a few people. Not EVERYONE at church. So don’t cut yourself off from those who want to support, encourage, and walk alongside you.
When church people hurt you, trust God’s faithfulness and promises
When you are hurting, turn towards God rather than away. You’ll find truth and comfort from his word and soothing encouragement from His Spirit through prayer. The more you seek Him, the more you discover His…
Also, don’t forget Jesus understands unjust treatment. But he endured it on our our behalf. That’s genuine love!
When church people hurt you, ask God for a spirit of forgiveness
Don’t wait for church people to apologize, but actively forgive them. If they are led by his Spirit, he will convict them, and they will seek reconciliation. But not everyone at church is led by the spirit. Some are not even true followers of Christ. So don’t count on everyone at church to act in a Christ-like manner. Even though they are supposed to.
Also, remember that forgiveness is not so much for the offender as it is for you. Yes, you may be an innocent victim of unfair treatment. But after a while, your pain turns into anger followed by a spirit of bitterness that takes root and grows. And that bitterness becomes your sin.
That’s why Jesus commands us to forgive. Because otherwise, the pain and hurt we carry eventually becomes a heavy chain of anger and bitterness that binds us. Forgiveness is the key that sets us free.
Even in the midst of a torturous death of crucifixion, Jesus forgave those who perpetrated evil against him. And he intervened for them to his Father.
Trust God and move forward by faith
Church people can inflict deep, serious wounds that may take a long time to heal. But God is the great physician. While those injuries may slow you down, keep moving forward. And don’t let your feelings guide you because they are unreliable. Especially when they are bruised and bleeding.
Instead, let God’s Word be your trusted guide and faith the engine that moves you forward. God will lead the way, make you stronger, and equip you to encourage and support another spiritual casualty.
Discipleship requires balance. Because on one side it invites God’s Spirit to work within you. And letting him transform you from the inside out. However, on the other, it’s engaging in spiritual disciplines like prayer and Bible Study. And striving to apply God’s truth to your life. But leaning too much either way causes trouble.
REFLECT AND RECORD
Describe the discipleship balance in your spiritual life. What does out of balance look like? What does a healthy balance look like? How balanced are you at the moment?
V. 12 work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,
At the start of chapter one in Philippians, Paul calls his audience “saints.” Which means they have all responded to the Gospel and are followers of Jesus. And in many of his other writings, Paul teaches that salvation is by grace. It is not earned or deserved. Is he saying something different here?
No. The Greek word for “work out” is katergázomai and means to overcome, work at, prepare and equip. So Paul’s not saying work FOR your salvation. He’s telling the Philippians not to put their spiritual life on cruise control. Sit back, let the Holy Spirit guide you, and enjoy the ride. But that disciples should actively participate in their own spiritual growth.
Philippians 2:12-18 Discusses The Motivation That Promotes Discipleship
V. 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Even though discipleship involves a personal effort on your part, it shouldn’t be a drudgery. A list of religious duties you perform or else you feel guilty you’re not a “good Christian.” It’s focusing your activities on things that please God because you want to. Like a child doing things to please his parents. Or you wanting to please a spouse or other loved one.
Jesus did this too. In Matthew 3:17, following Jesus’ baptism, God spoke from heaven and said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
And the Greek word for “well pleased” is eudokéō–the same one used here for “good pleasure.” Did Jesus need to be baptized? No. Because he was without sin. But he did so as an act of obedience. In order to please his Heavenly father. It is this desire that should motivate Christ-followers today.
If following Jesus feels like a burden to you, perhaps you should ask yourself why?
Philippians 2:12-18 Reveals The Key To Faithful Discipleship
V. 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain
The Greek for “word” is lŏgŏs and generally indicates something said. In Jewish thought the sayings of God were of great importance. And in John 1:1, lŏgŏs is used to describe Jesus Christ as the living Word of God. Which represents the entire theme in the Gospel of John.
And while we absolutely should cling to Jesus as disciples, the context in this passage suggests Paul means the word relating to the truth of the gospel, rather than specifically Jesus. In other words, hold on to the words of the gospel as your source of truth and spiritual nourishment.
This encouragement is especially true for disciples of Jesus today. We are bombarded with competing voices, messages, and talking points from all directions. How do we identify what is false? By knowing and holding on to God’s truth revealed in scripture.
This is how you stay the course and run the race to the glory of God.
Join me next week in a study of Philippians 2:19-24.
I’ve received another positive review for Finding Grace. Click here to read it. Or check out my Christian detective novels Soul Pursuit, and Finding Grace for yourself. I’ve also published non-fiction Christian books. Take a look here.
You might be a binge Christian if you demonstrate certain behaviors. What do I mean by a binge Christian? I’m mean part-time Christian commitment. Like a short-term sugar high. Consume lots of sweets for a short time period, take a long break, and binge again. A binge Christian exercises faith the same way. God and church in snatches. On and off. Hot and cold. Drop in and drop out.
You might be a binge Christian if you accept Jesus as your Savior but not your Lord
You’re all about God’s grace and salvation. Securing a Get-Into-Heaven-free card. But consider ongoing righteous living optional because it cramps your style.
What the world offers is fun and exciting. Following Jesus is about obeying rules. And rule following is a drag.
To be fair, Jesus does demand discipleship. And warns it may involve a cost. But those who truly follow Jesus obey him because they want to, not have to. And strive for faithfulness, not perfection. It’s where you discover the fruits of God’s Spirit…the good life we all really seek.
Salvation without Lordship presents another risk. Did you make a real commitment to Jesus or simply repeat the sinner’s prayer like a religious formula?
Because Jesus warned that some who are expecting a heavenly reward, will instead, receive an unpleasant surprise.
You might be a binge Christian if you attend church mostly on special occasions
You attend church faithfully every…Christmas, Easter, and Mother’s Day. Perhaps even more…like once a month. And sacrificially give some of your spare change for extra credit. To punch your “good works” card. And keep your religious toe in the water. Just in case.
Although you might increase to a level of “regular church attendance” when something goes wrong in your life and you need divine intervention. So you binge on church for several weeks until things work themselves out. Like paying spiritual penitence to God or driving a spiritual bargain.
If you help me, God, I’ll serve you in return. But only until things are going smoothly again.
You might be a binging Christian if you act like a spiritual consumer
Sundays are more about your “worship experience” than reverence before an almighty God. And you evaluate the Sunday sermon with a one to ten rating for it’s spiritually uplifting value. Rather than consider with an open heart what God is saying to you.
Of course, there are bonus points for personal application that you insightfully see lacking in others. Evaluate church ministries based on their spiritual benefit. And participate based on what you get rather than what you give.
While serving is more of a feel good exercise rather than genuine concern for others.
You could be a binge Christian if you compartmentalize your identity
We all play different roles in life–work, family, church, and social. And balance different expectations in each one. Fulfill different responsibilities. Manage different spheres of influence.
However, a Christian identity is fixed. You are in Christ. A Child of God. A follower of Jesus. And no matter what role you play, the character of Christ should be visible. The desire to imitate him apparent. If not–and there is little resemblance in your various roles–you should ask yourself why?
Because Christian character and integrity should look the same regardless of your role. And behavior consistently demonstrate your core beliefs. When you compartmentalize to the point of compromise, your identity is fleeting and superficial. And presents a schizophrenic lifestyle that eventually bleeds over.
Of course, no Christian gets it right all the time. That is not the point. And the bottom line question is not about your behavior. But who has your heart.
About Chip Tudor:
Chip Tudor is an author, blogger and freelance copywriter. He publishes humorous Christian drama, books, and thought provoking blogs from a Christian worldview.
Organizational problem-solving for Get’er Done Leaders is an ongoing job requirement. Identify the problem. Figure out how to fix it. And Get’er done.
If only it was that simple. Like a DIY problem-solving repair kit. A plug and play solution generator. A fix-it Frank formula.
What I have learned in my years as a ministry and team leader in a church organization is that organizational problems and their solutions generally fall into one of these three categories.
Organizational Problem-Solving That Requires A Person
Some problems require someone with the right skill set to make a repair.
If your faucet is leaking, the skill set is plumbing. Maybe you need a professional. Maybe an experienced handyman.
Of course, not all problems are that straight forward. If the budget is out of whack, do you need an accountant, finance specialist or investment advisor to address it?
And today, IT covers such a broad spectrum you may go through several IT experts to solve your enigma. Therefore, identifying the right skill set is not always so obvious. And the biggest challenge?
Finding the right match.
It might be one of your team members, the team member from another department, a volunteer if you’re a non-profit, or an outside contractor.
Organizational Problem-Solving That Requires Technology
Innovative technology changes in a blink. Master one software package, a new one replaces it, and you’re relearning everything. A never ending process since what you buy this week is obsolete the next.
And you can grow overly enamored with technology. But the saying, “there’s an app for that,” is often, more true than naught.
So pay attention to new developments, but don’t buy the latest thing just because it’s cool and hip. Know the what and why for the technology you invest in.
As I built a church sports ministry, I decided video would be a great way to market programs to the congregation.
So I bought a DSLR camera, modestly priced editing software, and learned how to create and post videos on social media. Interest grew and participation increased. As a result, I was able to build several intramural sports leagues that engaged hundreds of people within the church and attracted new people from outside the church. I explain the entire methodology in my book How To Build A Church Intramural Sports League.
Organizational Problem-Solving That Requires A System Or Process
Technology is wonderful, but doesn’t solve every problem. It may be the cumbersome system or process you’re using. Are you still physically printing and mailing a paper newsletter? Publishing an e-newsletter will save you time and money.
Is one person responsible for a critical job assignment that takes all day to complete? Maybe a team would be more efficient and cost-effective.
Sometimes the most under used resource is your brain. And the most valuable process…thinking. Because along with working hard, a Get’er Done Leader also works smart. Regularly reviews systems and processes. And considers how to improve them.
I have a special fondness for the question–what if?
What if I tried this? Did that? Made an adjustment here? Changed it there?
Improved processes don’t always involve expensive technology. Sometimes it’s changing things around to make them better.
Hopefully as you solve organizational problems with people, technology and systems or processes, you’re doing more than fixing a problem. You’re making your organization better than it was before the problem.
If you are a pastor or church leader, planning church events is a regular part of what you do.
Fellowship events. Mission events. Seasonal events around Christmas and Easter. And more.
Because you have a mission. A message. And you want to engage as many people as possible.
But planning church events that engage people is a challenge for many reasons.
For example. You’re planning an event during a busy time of year. The event competes against community, school and TV events going on the same time. Or perhaps, there’s not much interest in what your particular event is about.
But there is a secret ingredient in planning church events that fuels high attendance.
It lurks beneath your congregational landscape like a giant underground spring. Awaiting gold mind. Gushing oil field. But just like other speculative ventures, you must prospect for it.
And you can’t always know for sure when you will hit pay dirt. You observe. Evaluate the landscape. Look for signs. Make educated guesses. And finally, pick a spot and dig. Sometimes it’s a dry well. But you might hit a gusher.
And what is the secret ingredient in planning church events that I’m talking about?
Although felt needs vary specifically from person to person they are generally represented in areas like career, relationships, health, kids, and finances to name a few. Church events planned around these areas often attract interest.
For example, every church study I’ve ever planned on the topic of relationships has drawn a crowd. Especially single adults.
So let’s get psychoanalytical for a moment.
It’s important to understand that felt needs are not always what people really need, but what they think they need.
Of course you know that. So do Advertisers and Marketers. And they exploit it by convincing you that you absolutely do need something… the product/service they’re selling.
Think Beanie Babies, Energy drinks, Pet Rocks, Low Carb Diet, and the Hula Hoop.
Advertisers sold consumers on the idea their lives would improve with these products. People bought it…literally. And pay attention to how advertisers elicit emotion in their ads. Why?
Because when emotions are ramped up, rational decision-making shuts down. People buy on impulse because it feels right and good. Not because it is right or is good.
How many times have you bought something and later asked yourself: What was I thinking? And the answer is, you weren’t. You acted on impulse.
And the biggest area of felt need?
It affects every area of our lives and drives how we spend our time and money. Because it’s important to have the right…
It motivates people that sign-up for church programs and events too. Yes, I know. They should sign-up because they want to engage spiritually, but that’s not the reality.
More likely, they expect or hope to get something from the event. Maybe a spiritual blessing?
So when planning church events, focus your marketing message on benefits. Because you need to convince the reader it will add something positive to their life.
But wait, you say. What about when people serve from altruistic motives?
Even that can be about giving back to feel good about yourself rather than out of sacrificial love.
So keep this in mind when forming your promotional message.
Of course, felt needs can be exactly what they appear on the surface. The person buying exercise equipment simply wants to promote better health. At the same time, felt needs can be symptoms of a deeper problem.
Someone registering for an exercise class struggles with gluttony. And the gluttony is due to anxiety… caused by stress… related to problems at work. I know, don’t over analyze everything.
But the reality is we are complex beings with layers of life experiences-both good and bad- that influence and shape us. So be aware that felt needs can be the symptom you see on the surface and the real issue is buried under layers you have to peel away.
So the next time you’re planning a church event, ask yourself what felt need it addresses. And if attendance skyrockets, it’s likely you hit the mother lode.
The more you make this a conscious part of your planning process, the more success you will achieve in gaining high attendance at your church events.
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