Healing Your Church Hurt by Stephen Mansfield
If there was ever a time the right book came to me at the right time it is this one. Healing Your Church Hurt by Stephen Mansfield is an excellent book on the subject everyone of us in church deals with but afraid to even mention it. If you have been attending church or a member of your church for any length of time you have run into it. Experienced it. Endured it. Broken by it. Bitter because of it. Even turned away from God because of it. Its not God's Word that hurt you in a bad way. Nothing from the Bible. In fact, most of us would admit we would rather be smacked in the face with a Bible than being hurt from an insensitive word from a fellow brother or sister in Christ.
Our expectations of church and how it is supposed to be and operate are so much different than the realities each one of us experience. We look at God's house as a fortress. One we can run into for protection, for love, for kindness, for learning, for encouragement or just plain hide. We do not enter these divine gates for ridicule, distrust and out right cruelty. But if you are a true church goer you have in fact experienced the downside and the dark-side of the church.
My church hurts, and I do mean hurts, run deep to my very core. Dare I say even to my soul. That in fact is true. It is when such hurts which we perceive as inflicted upon us by another begin to slowly at first infect our souls with bitterness. A bitterness from Satan himself. Like a cancer growing undetected until it appears too late. We are so bitter that the church now begins to represent the very thing that causes us pain. Anything associated with it now becomes a cruel reminder to us.
Author Stephen Mansfield hits it on the head. How we go beyond the memories and continue to re-live the very thing, memory, situation, people and persons that deepen the wound and place ourselves in the very dark pit we desire to escape. He refers to it as, “The Season of Hell.” Through the course of the book I was determine to use the principals used and taught by the author. Regardless of the pain I knew and did feel through my own personal Season of Hell it had to be done. Which in turn prepared me for the next Church Hurt.
This book is for 99% of those who have called church home. There is no doubt in my mind that anyone has been so perfect not to have experienced a Church Hurt that cuts them down to their knees.
I personally have had to re-read many of the parts of this book. Revisit my Season of Hell on occasion. I can safely say I can remember the events, people, the words and the physical pain deep within my heart. But I no longer re-live them. No longer let the teeth of the trap inject the poison of bitterness continually into my soul without my permission any more.
Is this a life changing book? For me, Yes. Going deep into scripture to the very Hebrew and Greek words originally used. Learning and applying God's Word directly into my life. Seeing the reality of the situations. Addressing why I would even consider the opinions of such people valid or of any value to me? Many of those who speak do so without knowing or caring at the time. As they go through life it becomes second nature to them. The bitterness pouring out of them without question. Ask them to pass the salt and they find some way of releasing some of the bitterness at you like some splattering water balloon. Trying to get everyone wet.
I have always had a problem with authority. Nearly everyone I have met who had some title never was able to live up to it. In fact, many of which are just the opposite and determine to hinder anyone who dares to work towards achieving more and helping others to do the same. One thing I have learned from this book that those within the church are held to a higher authority than the rest of us. They often forget it is God they serve. It is God they must answer too. We too forget. For we too answer to God. The wicked things we do even if we are unaware have consequences that we will be judged for. The problem is we are too afraid to make known or to call another out when obviously what they are doing or done is wrong according to scripture. The procedure for such is spelled out plainly in God's Word. Still we, as well as I. have become to afraid to do it. It is simpler to just leave and hop to another church.
In his book Stephen Mansfield gives us the blueprint on what questions must be answered before joining a church. Before leaving your church and searching for another. Going beyond the entertainment factor to the heart of service. Is your church preparing you for the work of the Kingdom? This question must be answered by each of us.
This book is worth twice its costs. I find it a much needed part of the puzzle in my daily walk with Christ. Church hurts will continue to come. You will not be able to avoid them unless you have taken the easy way out and left the very brothers and sisters that need you. Ones you have not even met yet.