Healing the Church Hurts

If you've ever attended church, you've probably suffered a church hurt.
~ Stephen Mansfield, ReChurch*

This week, the religious blogosphere has buzzed with a story out of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington. A young man called "Andrew" confessed to leaders at the church that he had cheated on his fiance'. He repented, asked for forgiveness, and attended numerous meetings over a long period of time as a result of this confession. Then the church presented him with a "discipline contract" that called for his signature. Even more meetings, conversations, and actions were necessary for Andrew to receive full reconciliation in the church. At this point, believing that God had forgiven him already, Andrew refused to sign the contract. A few days later, he found himself blocked from the church's online network, and a letter about Andrew's refusal to sign the contract was posted to that online network. **

You might be thinking at this point: I don't like this post. Darian sure is getting my day off to a depressing start.

I apologize for doing so! But please stay with me for just a few more paragraphs.

I will readily confess that I disagree with a lot of the theology coming out of Mars Hill Church. Also, I recognize that this account is only one side of the story of what happened to Andrew. But the reason that I have followed his story and have shared it here is for one reason: Andrew is one of many who have been wounded in a community whose purpose should be to heal.

Healing does often involve discipline, repentance, and change, but all of these should always come from a place of love. Andrew's story is of someone who did not feel such love in the place where love should abound. Sadly, his story is common, and most of those stories do not get the media attention that his garnered. The Church is composed of humans, and humanity does indeed hurt and wound each other even with the best intentions. Hurt has happened, does happen, and will happen in churches. So what can we do? Perhaps the best place to start is to be aware that all of us are Andrew--prone to both sin and forgiveness. When we start to see our brother or sister as "more sinful" than we are, we've entered into a dangerous territory. Let us be alert to the needs around us, and be careful as to how we respond to them. Who knows how much the Church could grow if the "church hurts" began to receive healing and were avoided in the future? Thanks be to God for grace that is greater than any of our human efforts.

grace, peace, love, and all good things to each of you,
Pastor Darian

* To learn more about Stephen Mansfield's book, click here.

** To read the full account of Andrew's story, as told to author Matthew Paul Turner in two parts, click http://matthewpaulturner.net/jesus-needs-new-pr/mark-driscolls-gospel-shame-the-truth-about-discipline-excommunication-and-cult-like-control-at-mars-hill/.