church hurt

Church Hurt & Overcoming It

Hold on, hold on. She sent me a nasty email. How dare she do that! I have just been wronged.  By a woman in the church. She wasn’t supposed to do that. I was doing a good job. Wasn’t I? That was the beginning of one of my experiences with church hurt.

I’m sure you have at some point been hurt by someone– family member, friend, co-worker.  If you have been a part of a local church body you probably have been hurt by someone in church too. If you haven’t, hold on, you will.

Church hurt. It can be some of the worst hurt ever. A lot of us go into church with the idea that we are safe there. We feel it’s a place to be who we are and to be loved and accepted. Shortly after we get involved in a church and give or lives in service somewhere getting connected with people we realize that is not a true reality.

The reality that we thought we would find in church is not what is actually found. Instead, we find another group of people. We find people with the same wounds we have. Same experiences of hurt and pain, loss and failure and anger and jealousy that we saw outside of church.

Church Hurt Comes In Many Shapes and Sizes

I was sort under this impression when I began going to church and serving many years ago. I used to sing in the choir, and I remember soon discovering that if you can’t sing as well as sister so-and-so, you better now try to lead a song. You would get the eye and the looks of “why don’t you usher” instead. I had forgotten how painful those experiences were. It was enough to get up in front of people and put on the choir robe and sing anyway, let alone lead a song. Did they have to be so judgmental in their looks when I didn’t hit a note perfectly. I was singing to the Lord after all. He didn’t mind if I was off-key a little. Did He?

Years passed and I graduated to leading small groups at my church. I specifically remember leading a group thinking I was doing a great job. I love leading groups of women and people were responding. While I was in training, I felt I was connecting with the women there and doing a good job. Only later to be found with a nasty email by a woman in my group that said I was a horrible small group leader and worse.

Why Church Hurt Hurts Worse

I was so hurt. I was walking in the utmost level of integrity in my small group. Always on time. I was helping them. Giving them my time outside of group. I was studying for group. I was doing it right. But, this woman couldn’t see my heart and she was upset about some small incident that I had no idea was an incident.

To be quite honest with you, I was offended. Offended by someone’s words, written to me even though I was giving that person the best of me. I was doing the right thing. But yet, the pain of offense was horrible. I had, at that moment to make a decision on how to handle her and her email. I knew if I stayed offended, ministry would be very hard for me and I would not please the Lord. Church hurt felt bad in my moment. I was serving this woman and found it hard to look at her after her scathing email of me. It hurt because what she thought of me was not right and misleading and not who I was. I wanted her to know the truth. But because she was so offended I knew she wouldn’t listen. I had no defense.

3 Ways to handle church hurt Share on X

Related Post: The Other Side of Church Hurt

3 Ways to Handle Church Hurt

What about you? How do you handle church hurt? I have three ways to share that might help.

1.) Forgive.

Simply stated, harder to do, but absolutely necessary. Forgive the person or persons that hurt you in church. Realize that they probably didn’t mean it and if they did, that is not your problem. Let it go. Forgive. Tell God about how you feel and no one else. Do not spread the hurt around and cause more people to be offended. Forgive twice as much as you talk about it.

2.) Love.

Love the person that wronged you. Do something nice for them. Give a kind word, compliment their outfit, buy them lunch or coffee, smile at them, and love them from the heart. Be kind to them. You never know what that person is going through in their own personal life. They may simply need a kind gesture to soften their heart.

3.) Pray.

Prayer is a stronger weapon than anything someone else can use against you. You need to pray for the person that hurt you. Pray for their eyes to be open to how they hurt you. Pray for them to repent of their actions or words towards you. We need to pray for their own hurt to be healed. Pray for God to bless them.

Overcoming Church Hurt

Be determined to let nothing stand in the way of your relationship with God. Not anger, unforgiveness, hatred, offense or your own hurt. Trust God with the situation that hurt you and let it go. See them the way God sees them.

Finally, remember that nothing can take away your pain from church hurt but God. He is gracious and loving to you and to the person that hurt you. I forgave the woman that hurt me and eventually got to the place I could speak to her again at church. Seeing her brought no more pain as it once did. God truly will heal all of our hurts when we surrender them to Him and Him alone.


Join the Conversation

Have you had an experience with church hurt? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Tell us your experience or your own tips for handling it.


  1. Church hurt isn’t fun, no matter what side of it you’re on. I’ve been on the other side. We offended someone unintentionally. It hurt us that we hurt them. I love your three steps to overcome. Prayer, forgiveness and love, you can’t go wrong with those.

    1. Ooh wow. We never usually think that we are on the other side usually just the victim. Thanks. Great point. Personally inventory time.

  2. I think to some degree we have all had experience in this area. Church hurt can totally wreck your world. Each of the tips you have given is perfect for dealing with this type of situation. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Waiting to respond until I’ve talked to God has always been my best defense for an offensive remark. He calms my emotions and clears away my perceptions to help see beyond my hurt. I have also learned that forgiveness is something that needs to be exercised constantly- it’s not a one time thing. Just as loving requires constant exercising, forgiveness also requires it so asking God to help is crucial to be able to endure!

  4. Church hurt is a hard one! We open ourselves up to our church family in ways we don’t necessarily allow others, like co-workers to know us. We expect more from our Christian friends and then when they hurt or offend us it hurts all the more. These are great tips to healing our church hurt! God bless!

    1. Thank you. Yes Church hurt is awful…. I agree it hurts worse than non church hurt because we expect more. I have learned to expect nothing. Hurt will happen. It is what it is and it will happen in church too.

  5. Church hurt is so hard. As a bible study leader on a college campus, I see this so much in my fellow students. So many people grow up in the church and turn away when they go off to school. Thanks for sharing this advice.

  6. Thanks for sharing this. Believers can NEVER walk around in offense. In fact, scripture says that if we don’t forgive our brother, then our heavenly Father won’t forgive us! We have to be ever-mindful that He is our shield and defense. And we must walk aware of who HE is in us, and who we are IN HIM. Thank you for being transparent and being such an encouragement.

  7. Ugh! Is the word I can only write!
    We talk about extending grace to others but when we’re in church it seems like grace is abandoned. We all have gifts and we need each other to be the complete body of Christ here on earth.

  8. This is wonderfully written. I could feel the hurt and the humor. Church hurt really is wounding. I wish that it could be avoided but those kinds of experiences push us towards maturity.

    1. Funny how He turns our hurt to laughter…. I remember being so hurt by this and funny thing is this person is not even at my church anymore… did the damage and left. Im so glad God is God and not me

    1. Funny how He turns our hurt to laughter…. I remember being so hurt by this and funny thing is this person is not even at my church anymore… did the damage and left. Im so glad God is God and not me

  9. When taken aback with a sharp response from anyone, be it church related, family or friend related, I’ve learned in my 70 plus years to consider where the other person is coming from. As we all know especially at church, many who are hurting have no choice but to wear a mask of, “I’m fine” in order to just make it to church. Generally speaking we don’t know who they are but if we don’t speak to them they get hurt. So, it’s not a matter of what we say but of what we don’t say. We learn of this by the grapevine or you’re given the silent treatment until you apologize. I believe there is a place in Holy Spirit where mature Christians are not offended but rather have forgiven already. Bruce Hebel calls it “Forgiving Forward”. When we know who we are in Christ and are secure in Him, why then can we not be wronged as He was. No! It does not feel good especially when our intentions were honorable. I fail miserably at times, however Jesus is my example not my Pastor, not my sister or friend. So we go into our closet an shut the door. Turn on worship music and give Him worship He deserves. We don’t even have to throw up our offense to Him. He just takes care of it while you’re worshiping Him. Prayer is not always words. ??☕️

  10. I’m sorry you went through that. I’ve been through hard things myself; first in the church I attended for many years nonstop, then later on in the more recent church I attended. I’m talking major offenses, not trivial things. I’ve never been offended by things that don’t matter. The problem was my pastor from the first church didn’t like people leaving his church even when you tried to leave the right way. If he found out where you were now, he would put a bug in the other pastors ear about you, causing you to lose favor with the new pastor, to discredit you. Every time I tried to find a new church, suddenly the pastor of the new church (new to me), who’d been so friendly before, was suddenly avoiding me, or acting strange around me. This is not a large town so there’s not a lot of churches to choose from, and the rest are mostly Catholic. It was like being blackballed. I knew in my heart that’s what was happening but no way to prove it. Pastors always try to cover for each other, because they seriously think pastors are never at fault, and even if I asked, they’d deny it. Then I read something that said the same thing I was thinking, had happened to the author of the article, and I knew God was confirming my suspicions. I’ve forgiven this pastor over and over, but now I’ve left this more recent church, because the former pastor has started guest preaching at this new church, which only shows me there’s been communication between the two pastors and I wasn’t imagining anything. Forgive, yes, but stay??? God says to guard our hearts. I’ll never assume anything about someone who leaves a church; we don’t know what battle they’ve been fighting, only to be bullied or shunned by the leader, who, let’s face it, has more power and is often put on a pedestal by the congregation. Trying not to gossip or divide, the person may choose to leave quietly, but will automatically be labeled a backslider or a “Jezebel”; but sometimes it’s the discerning that choose to leave, and not the ones that stay. To stay means you agree with them, even if they’re wrong. If you’re not allowed to even speak to the pastor to ask questions, respectfully, then you know nothing will ever change….God doesn’t call us to be punching bags. Leaders tend to think they get a “free pass” on anything they do, since after all, they are the “man of God”, (or woman), but they forget that teachers will be judged more strictly, and not less!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.