How people get Wounded in the church

This fall I’ll be helping out with a course on woundedness in the church through the Academy of Discipleship.  We don’t have an official title yet but the course will cover the causes of woundness, a biblical response, long term solutions and approaches to support those who have been wounded.  It is an 8 week course starting in early October.

I’m considering the approach we could take with the course.  I’m thinking about anchoring the content around 4 different cases, or typical stories of people who have been wounded in the church.  Some of them could be:

Peter was involved in a large church as a member and leader in some programs.  When his mom died no one responded in any substantive way.  No one from the congregation or the pastoral staff.  He did continue to get calls to keep volunteering for different programs.  He quickly realized that through all the activity there was very few if any supportive relationships in the church.  The experience made him feel cheap because it seemed the only time any cared to talk to him was to get him to fulfill some role in a program or activity.

Gerald grows up in a family that lived a by strong code of right and wrong derived from community values.  The bible is quoted a lot when enforcing the rules.  Gerald’s parents tried very hard to make sure their family appeared to be doing well even when it wasn’t.  Gerald’s relationship with God is tainted by the experience with his earthly father.  To Gerald God is an angry, judgmental ogre watching over people to punish them for the slightest transgression.

Mistreatment of Leaders
Rob became a youth pastor in a small church in a different town.  Everything went well for the first 6 or 12 months.  He forget to make a phone call and one of the youth was left out of activity.  The youth complained to his parents and from that point on they had a serious grudge against Rob.  The family started to other members of the church criticizing the pastor framing much of their gossip as “prayer requests.”  After another 6 months of backroom talk and disingenuous posturing a number of families became dissatisfied with Rob.  Rob tried to talk to his detractors but even when asked directly they offered vague criticisms or flat out denied they had a problem with him.  Rob made some mistakes along the way, losing his temper.  While some people saw through the things that were being said about him they said very little in his defence.  In an emergency congregational meeting it was decided to “release” Rob in to other opportunities.  Rob was shattered by the experience and his faith in the church and God was pushed to the brink.

Authoritarianism/Spiritual Manipulation
Lisa was a leader in the woman’s group at church led by a charismatic authoritarian leader and his wife.  The pastor’s wife Stacy started coaching her and discipling her to prepare her for leadership and to walk in new levels of authority.  Lisa was well liked as a leader and was make a huge difference the lives of people in that church.  Stacy criticized Lisa on small points.  Lisa tried to be submissive and make the necessary corrections.   The church taught that spiritual disaster awaited those who were not submissive to authority.  Deep down inside she feared what might happen to her if she rebelled against authority.  Lisa had a hard time objectively understanding what she was being criticized for.  Instead of point out tangible areas of weakness or failure she was say she had a “spirit of rebellion” or “you didn’t follow my lead” or “ your not following my authority.”  Eventually Lisa became confused and dejected because it seemed impossible to be correctly aligned with authority.  She started to question whether she was deceived or rebellious and destined for God’s judgement.  Eventually she became so twisted up inside she gave up on church.

What do you think? 

  1. #1 by beck on June 28, 2011 - 1:59 pm

    I think that’s a great way to approach things. All of us can relate to at least one of those scenarios, and many of us can identify with ALL of them. I already want to read the rest.

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