When Church Hurts

Today I’m sharing another post from the archives. I’m speaking at a ladies retreat this weekend, and want to focus on preparing for the sessions I’ll be teaching.

I’ve re-posted readers’ favorites before, but those are not necessarily my personal favorites – the ones that came from the deepest part of me, and seemed to bring some kind of healing and truth to my life as I wrote them. I hope you enjoy them, the second time around!



It seems as though there are many people who grow up believing that Church is supposed to be a safe place, filled with kind, loving people who love Jesus and never make mistakes.

Church is supposed to be a place where everyone is welcome, where there is always someone ready to lend a helping hand, and where we are safe to be ourselves.

That sounds fantastic. Really. But I keep hearing about situations where Church has not been those things for people. I just talked with somebody a few weeks ago who said he had “given up on church”. And that makes me so sad.

When Church is working well, it is a beautiful thing. But when it’s not working well, it is a heartbreaking mess.

What do we do with that? Church is full of people. Therefore, there will always be a bit of a mess involved. People make mistakes, and hurt others out of their own hurt, and do things in Jesus’ name that have nothing to do with Jesus.

And then people give up on “Church”, because Church is supposed to be safe and loving and the Bride of Christ. But sometimes the Bride gets nasty.

I used to be angry with Church. I loved Jesus, but the whole idea of “membership” seemed very ridiculous to me. Why would I want to be part of it? I saw a bit too much of the painful side of Church, the side that can destroy lives. I kept attending Church, but I had pretty low expectations. Church hurt me, too.

But there’s a song we used to sing when I was in Bible school. There’s a line in it that says, “Stand up Church with broken wings. Fill this place with songs again…”

Whenever I hear that someone has been hurt by the Church, that line pops into my head, and I have a picture of the beautiful Church, wounded. She was meant to fly, but she lies there broken.

When we see Church as needing to be the perfect place, filled with perfect people, who always meet our expectations in the perfect way, and always know what to say or do, and never make mistakes, or hurt us, or disappoint us, we have made it into something that it’s not.

We will always be disappointed by people, but we will never be disappointed by Christ. When we look for Christ in people, we will have love for them. When we look for Christ in the Church, we will find Him. He’s there, amidst the imperfection and pain. He hurts, too, along with the Church and with us.

When we look to Christ to meet our needs, rather than people or Church, we will be satisfied.

I heard a message by John Maxwell once in which he talked about happiness in marriage. He said that if we look to our spouse to make us happy, it will never happen. But if we look to Jesus to make us happy, our spouse will add to that happiness in infinite ways.

That’s like the Church. If my life is full of Jesus, it makes me so happy to meet with other Christians at Church. But if I’m expecting the people in the Church to meet all of my needs and demands so that I can then find Jesus, I am in danger of being very disappointed.

I believe that there is a place in the Church for people who can’t find Jesus on their own, and they need some help along the way. But true help will only come from being pointed in the right direction.

But let’s be realistic here – with thousands of years of hurt and bitterness involving the Church, a few little words typed out here is really not going to solve the problem. And that makes me very sad. I have a feeling that “the Church with broken wings” will remain that way until Jesus comes back. He will restore His Bride on that day.

And she will be beautiful, the way she was meant to be. Don’t give up on her!


Have you ever been hurt by the church when you were expecting comfort and safety?

Mentor Me (Part 3): So How Do I Find Myself a Mentor?

Maybe you are already completely sold on the idea of mentoring. Maybe you’ve seen that great need in your life for accountability, words of challenge and wisdom spoken into you, someone to guide  you along as you grow.

All of that sounds great, but…you have no idea where to find it.

Ben and I have both gone through that at different times in our lives. For years, Ben really wanted to have a mentor, but there just wasn’t anyone whom he really connected with in that kind of a way. When he started working on his Masters through Trinity Western University, getting a mentor was part of the program. He was paired up with a man whom he clicked with immediately, and felt comfortable talking to his mentor about anything, right from the start.

It has been a huge blessing for him. There is something so incredibly comforting in knowing that at any time, you can call up someone older, wiser, more experienced, and totally removed from the situations you are facing, which enables them to pray and offer advice in a godly way while being more emotionally removed.

So….you could pay for a mentor. If you wanted to get your Masters.

I know. That’s not the most practical way of getting one. And I don’t know what happens when Ben is finished his program. Does the mentorship expire?

Maybe there are better options here…

I’ve come up with a list of three different steps to finding a mentor, but I believe each step should be preceded by lots of prayer. Your Father knows your needs, He cares about the longings of your heart, and He desires to work in your life through different people. He also desires to work in others through you.

1) Be willing to let go of your “mentor stereo-type”.

It’s easy to get this idea in your head of what a mentor should look like, or who that person should be. And all this time while you’re praying and trying to find a relationship that will meet your expectations, you could already be in a relationship where mentoring is happening.

Piano teachers, for example, can make fantastic mentors. I’ve spent so many hours talking with my music teachers, it was probably hard to tell if my parents were paying for music lessons or counseling. I don’t know which was more beneficial!

I think there are many different ways the mentor relationship can look. Long-distance mentoring totally works – Ben’s mentor lives a few provinces away. And I recently watched an interview with Tony Dungy in which he talked about the possibility of being mentored from a distance by someone you’ve never met! He said that there were some well-known men whom he really admired, but didn’t know. He read a number of books written by them, and felt that he was mentored through their written words.

Dungy also talked about how he’s been mentored through five-minute conversations. Sometimes someone can change your life  dramatically with only one encounter. Grab it and go! No, it’s not a relationship that will continue to grow for years and years, but it’s still God working in your life through other people. Appreciate it for the gift it is, even if it doesn’t “look” like mentoring in your mind.

2) Be willing to go out of your comfort zone.

Sometimes when we ask God for things, He answers our prayers in strange and unexpected ways. Be prepared!

When Ben and I had been married for a year, we moved to a new town and started attending a new church. I had been without a mentor for a few years, and was really missing it. I felt that I needed that type of relationship to help me grow in my spiritual life, so I started praying for one. And there she was, in our new church. The very first time I met her, I knew that she was “the one”! She is one of those amazing, godly women who just spills joy and the love of Jesus on everyone she meets. I could tell she was a true prayer warrior, and she was the kind of woman I wanted to learn from.

But I barely knew her. I prayed about it, and talked with Ben about it. He said, “You should call her.” It took a long time for me to work up my nerve. One evening, I just grabbed the phone and called before I had too much time to think myself out of it. I got their answering machine, so I left a message, and….she never called back! I was so sad!

A few months later, I somehow worked up the courage to ask again, and she said she would gladly be my mentor. I mentioned leaving a message, and she laughed and said their answering machine hadn’t been working for months! She had never heard my message.

If you’ve prayed about it, and you feel like God is leading you to take action, do it, even if it scares you so much you feel like you’ll puke.

It will all be worth it in the end!

3) Just keep trusting God to provide.

We moved away from that wonderful place, and my mentor moved on to a different stage of her life, and once again, I was without a mentor. The problem was, we had moved away from civilization to a camp in the middle of a forest. I was praying for a mentor, but I really, really wondered how in the world God was going to produce one. Would a godly woman come randomly wandering out of the bush one day and knock on my door?

Oh, ye of little faith! She was the speaker at a retreat we were having here at camp. We connected right away, and I had the most powerful prayer experience with her that I’d ever had. The next year, she came again, and when she left, I knew that I wanted to ask her to be my mentor.

But the problem was that she was so amazing. I was far too chicken to call her, because I was sure that she would have no time. I was sure that she probably had hundreds of women calling her up, begging her to mentor them. (The best ones are always the most busy, right?!) Ben kept telling me to call her, and I kept praying about it.

Finally, I took the pukey plunge again, and wrote her an email. And she said she’d do it! She also said she had never actually mentored anyone before, which shocked me completely.

And now, she blesses my life in very deep and rich ways. We live far apart, and are both very busy, so it’s not the kind of relationship where I have coffee with her once a week or something like that. But for this season of my life, God has provided, and He is so good.


I know that at times, it seems impossible to find the real, deep, life-changing kinds of relationships that we crave. But I really believe that God cares, and that He provides. Ask Him. Ask Him to send you somebody amazing.

If He can send someone to me, way out here in the bush, I’m guessing that He can figure something out for you, too. Wait for it, watch for it, and then go for it.

Go get mentored!


Series Summary:

Part 1: Embarking on a Journey

Part 2: Sharing Some Personal Stories

Part 3: So How Do I Find Myself a Mentor?

Part 4: Choosing a Victim

Part 5: What Do We Talk About Now?

Conclusion: The Gift That Keeps on Giving