The other side of church hurt....

The Other Side Of Church Hurt…

Someone in our church was hurting. It started as a difference of opinions. We were praying for guidance and there was a disagreement over where God was leading us. Feelings were hurt.

What do you do when you are hurting for the one who’s hurting?

It wasn’t intentional, but it was done. We had hurt someone in our church family. Ironically, we had volunteered to be the ones to deliver the news because we didn’t want them to get hurt. But it didn’t matter.

Looking back, we could have handled it differently. We should have handled it differently. Our hearts were in the right place, but we still dropped the ball.

And knowing we hurt them, hurt us. But there was nothing we could do. The damage was done.

Church Hurt Is Never One-Sided

Over the years I have heard story after story about church hurt. What I never realized until I was involved was that all of those stories were extremely one-sided. Not that what happened to them or what we did was any less wrong, but there really are two-sides to every story, and two sets of feelings involved. Two hearts, two people, two sinners saved by the same Savior.

There really are two-sides to every story and two sets of feelings involved. Two hearts, two people, two sinners saved by the same Savior. Click To Tweet

I understood all sides of the issue at my church. It was an impossible situation that wasn’t handled the best that it could have been. I understand that. I know why the other side was upset. In all honesty, I would have been, too. My heart hurts for them. But nothing I could have said would have changed the hurt they were feeling because of our church.

And it is ours. We are a family. A close one. So, in a division like this, the pain cuts deep.

So, we did the only thing we could do. We leaned on Jesus.

I knew their hearts were hurting, but I can also tell you that my heart was breaking.

We have to love Jesus more than our right to be offended

Thankfully, our story had a happy ending.

The love our church had for Jesus was stronger than the desire to hang on to the offense. We were willing to reconcile. When harsh words were spoken, we didn’t let them fester, we reached out in love because we knew we were in the wrong. We knew the pain behind the anger.

And in the end they were willing to forgive us.

Church Hurt Happens

We wished we hadn’t been the cause, but we knew we were. And it wasn’t just us, it was our church. That knowledge broke our hearts, as we cried out to God not to let it extinguish the fire in the hearts of His people or their passion for Him.

Because when the church hurts someone, it can cause irreparable harm. I know, because I’ve been on the other side of church hurt, too. Where someone within the church has hurt me.

Forgiving isn’t always the easy choice, but it’s always the right one.

And looking back, I know I will never look at church hurt the same again. Because it was easy to look at church hurt as a thing. As a wound inflicted by an organization. But that’s not what church hurt is, because that’s not what “church” is.

Our church is a family. And when a family member or several family members hurt someone else in the family, that wound cuts deep. It can tear the family apart. But God calls us to reach out and love one another. To forgive as Jesus forgave us.

That’s not always easy, in fact, I would say that’s never easy, but with the help of Jesus it is always possible.

The truth is, church hurt is bound to happen because the church is made up of people, and people make mistakes. We are all sinners. We are going to hurt one another. It’s bound to happen sooner or later.

But when we keep our focus on Jesus, we can forgive one another with His help and keep on loving one another even when we fail.

Join The Conversation

Have you ever been hurt by the church, or been on the other side of church hurt? Join the conversation in the comments below.

The other side of church hurt… Click To Tweet

If you liked this blog post, you’ll love Heather’s new book, Candid Conversations. While each story shares a unique perspective, the prevailing theme is that we all struggle, but there is hope to be found in Jesus. Get your copy from Amazon or click here to learn more.

Candid Conversations


  1. Wow, Heather. This is just good stuff to tackle when no one else wants to touch it. Love this line and tweet, “There really are two-sides to every story and two sets of feelings involved. Two hearts, two people, two sinners in saved by the same Savior. ” Amen.

    As a pastor’s wife, my husband and I are usually the ones who have to set up meetings to discuss the hard stuff and often to be mediators. And more often than not, we or our family are the ones caught in the cross-fire. Thanks for this timely and needed post.

    1. I will admit this was a very hard post to write. The last thing I want to do is stir it all up again, but I am so thankful for the grace the other party gave us and their willingness to forgive us.

  2. This is good! This is such a powerful topic. Coming from the ministry I’ve seen so much hurt on both sides, parishioners and clergy. I’ve been hurt and I’ve hurt others.
    At the end of the day, hurt people hurt people. Sometimes we don’t mean to, but being imperfect means we blow it. It’s God’s grace that hopefully reconciles us. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Great that you recognized the hurt, I think that is the first step in tackling this issue in churches. We must realize it happens, intentionally and unintentionally. If church hurt is not handled correctly then some could walk away from God because of the church. Thanks for your willingness to share about this difficult subject.

  4. This is so focused on Jesus, it blows me away. Yes, “two sinners saved by the same Savior.” How unbelievably true. And not just inside church but inside the family, inside friendships, everywhere. I’ve been on both sides and yes, it can be just as devastating to be the cause of the hurt as it is to be the one hurt. You did a wonderful job articulating the position of the body of Christ as it pertains to releasing offense and coming back together in love.

  5. Church hurt isn’t a topic I see tackled much; understandably I guess, because … it hurts. 😉 I love the way you addressed it here, and I’m thankful the situation you talked about found reconciliation. So many times it leads to division or someone leaving the church, and then the situation becomes someone’s reason to not go to church ‘with all the hypocrites.’ Great reminder that WE are the church; just leaving , which is what we’re usually tempted to do, won’t solve anything. Blessings!

  6. I love that reconciliation was the outcome in this situation! Unfortunately, there are times when the church family isn’t aware they’ve caused hurt or damage in the first place. I’ve heard so many stories, especially among teenagers, where they left the church because of pain they’ve experienced that just simply went unchecked.

  7. Hurt can happen anywhere, anytime. Church is full of various, unique people that all come with their own hurts. How we share with others and allow them to share with us can help heal us and them. Great message Heather.

  8. This is so necessary, Heather. Learning how to own up and learning how to forgive is everything in relationships, including institutional ones. And how tragic are those hurts that no one ever knows about. Outs especially hard for large churches to knife or understand the hurt they may cause. I pray we learn to put aside our egos and see the hearts of others.

  9. I love how you are talking about it from the point of view of the person who hurt the other person. We are all human and things are sometimes done by accident or without thinking. Showing grace is the best way to handle this, letting love cover the offenses.

  10. Dear Heather!

    You are right; there are two sides to every story. That’s a strong church that can put the love for Jesus above the desire to hang on to the offence.

    Unfortunately, many of our churches are well aware that we push people away by holding on to some of our views; views that deeply harm the other part, and views that benefit little, or nothing to the church community in the long run.

    I have not been hurt by any church, but I have seen several people gone through that process.

    Thank you for bringing our attention to this topic.

    With love!
    Edna Davidsen

  11. Oh yes, I have been on both sides, hurting and being hurt, within the church. Thank you for approaching this with the heart of Jesus. It is only His forgiveness that truly helps us to move forward. And I have found over the years, that Jesus will take that forgiveness deeper, and bring us more of His love when we fix our eyes on Him. Blessings to you!

  12. I pray that other churches find this post! There are so many people who love their hurt and pain more than love and Jesus’ forgiveness. I loved this… thank you!

    1. Sometimes it’s hard to let go of our hurt. Especially when we believe we have the right to be offended. I know when someone at church yelled at my kids, I was tempted to hang on to that. But God and I had to work through it. I’m so glad I let it go. It only kept the hurt alive, and let it continue, and now that I’ve let it go, that person and I have an amazing relationship. Never would have pictured that back then.

  13. I think it’s great that you are acknowledging hurt within the church. It is something that is too common and often ignored due to complacency and fear. I do believe it goes much deeper than feeling a right to be offended. This is one reason so many disregard the hurt or calls the hurt party bitter because they really don’t understand. They haven’t lived it from either side. While there are always two sides this doesn’t indicate that both sides are correct and often within the church, if the leadership is the one doing the hurting then it is almost always excused which is so very, very wrong.

    1. Of course it is deeper than the right to be offended, please don’t read my words and think me flippant. Hurt is real. Offenses are real. As I said, I know in my particular situation, we were in the wrong. They had a right to be hurt. Their feelings were real. The pain we caused was real. We know that. Thankfully, they were still willing to forgive us. That line about loving Jesus more than our right to be offended was actually aimed more at me. When I was hurt by someone in the church I had to choose to let go of my right to be offended. What they did to me hurt, it was wrong. The world would tell me I had a right to be offended by it, but Jesus calls me to forgive. That’s where that comes from. It was for me. And I am thankful they forgave us, too.

  14. I walked away from religion for a long time after church hurt. No one wanted to finish going through the process like you. No one wanted to lean on Jesus in the middle of my church storm, and Jesus makes all the difference. Thanks for highlighting this issue in such great ways.

  15. Thanks for being open and honest! I am glad that you had a happy ending and can now share your story to help others with church hurt!

  16. This is SO good!! Thank you for sharing.
    I have a VERY similar story— though unintentional, we had hurt a couple in our church through the same circumstances. It broke my heart. It broke their heart. Even though we tried to reconcile- extending grace and love, and owning our part- reconciliation was not achieved. Leaning into Jesus was our only source of survival. It took a while, but our hearts have healed and we have forgiven. It’s sad-especially in a church- when reconciliation is not the end result.. trusting God can be challenging in times like these. I appreciate your perspective!

    1. Not every story has a happy ending. The sad truth is, when it comes to church hurt, most don’t. Even in our church we have had people leave or simply stop coming because of church hurt and we feel helpless to change it. All we can do is lean into Jesus and pray for everyone involved. Pray that God will heal hearts and help everyone to love Him more. Because in the end, it’s not about us, it’s about Jesus.

  17. Church hurt happens far too often, and you’re right, there are two sides every time. I think it takes spiritual maturity to forgive and reconcile. I’m glad that is what happened in your story. We need more of that!

  18. Wow, Heather! You are so on point with this and it’s something that’s been on my heart as well. Thank you for writing it in such a thoughtful, powerful way. xoxoxo

  19. Such an important topic! Thank you for sharing! The Church is full of fallible human beings just like you and me. Humility, grace, forgiveness all are needed to heal from something like that.
    Great post!

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