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Healing Your Church Hurt: What To Do When You Still Love God But Have Been Wounded by His People

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  • Posted March 28, 2012

    It's hard to find anyone who has attended church long enough not

    It's hard to find anyone who has attended church long enough not to be hurt at some point in their journey. Churches are filled with sinners. Redeemed? Yes, but sinners nonetheless. Sometimes it's our own spiritual families who inflict the most pain. So, how does a Christian overcome their church hurt? How do they find the grace to continue to serve Jesus and His Body after being abused by people who are supposed to love?

    Stephen Mansfield, a pastor, author, and speaker shares a very candid, heartfelt book that addresses this important topic. What separates this book from many others is that it's not an angry screed against the church. It's not the words of a person who has given up on the church. It's not yet another anger-fueled prescription for church change. Actually this book is written as both a comfort and a challenge to those who find themselves outside the Church they love.

    What I particularly like about this book is that it offers both comfort and constructive rebuke. Stephen encourages victims of church abuse to forgive, to move forward, to examine their own heart and lives for the sin they so readily identify in others.

    I appreciate Stephen's candor and wisdom in this book. It will be a help to many who struggle after a bad church experience.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 23, 2012


    Stephen Mansfield has given us a winner. It was with apprehension that I opened this book with the subtitle "What to do when you still love God but have been wounded by his people." I thought, O no, a book to help people wallow in their hurts whether real or only perceived. The local church gets such bad press these days, perhaps I was preconditioned to think this way. Well, did I ever get a pleasant surprise.

    Never was church itself criticized. He painted, however, the realistic portrait that the Christian life is rarely lived without some church issues. This is not broad strokes really, but, I suppose, to be expected with all those imperfect people being involved who make up every church. He admitted that some church members are truly hurt at church. We pastors like to live in the cloud that says it doesn't really happen, but it does. With equal force he revealed that pastors, too, often get hurt by folks at church. I'm sure that was a shocking revelation to many church members. Then, with the greatest candor he confessed that many of our supposed hurts are petty and unbecoming of what we make of them. He did all this in just a few pages and I was hooked. I was ready to hear what he had to say.

    Then the balance of the book is simply this--You are hurt in church. Whether it was real or imagined is not the issue. An analysis of the fiends who treated you so is pointless. What are you, the hurt one, going to do? You can't change it. You can't rewrite history with you being treated more justly. You really can't give your enemies their due, especially in line with your being a Christian. So, what are going to do?

    He goes through that dark process that is so easy for any of us to go through that includes hard feelings, bitterness, and finally, even things far worse. How did Mr. Mansfield effectively show us this process? He surveyed the wreckage of his own church hurt. He was a successful pastor of a growing, thriving church and one day it all blew up in his face. When he first broached the subject, I wondered if he was going to use his position as a popular writer to get his revenge. I assure you that was not the case. He never called his enemies by name, and I felt he never told us more than was necessary about them to get the picture of what was going on in his heart. No, the one he exposed with all the gory details was himself.

    He went far out on the limb and started cutting. He told us what he did, how he really felt, and the thoughts that came gushing out of his mind. They were grotesque. They overshadowed what his enemies, who I imagine truly were guilty, did. Such is the cherishing of bitterness for a Christian. Our Lord has simply not designed us to be able to function fueled by hate. It's like trying to put milk in your car's gas tank. You won't be going anywhere. He risked our disliking him. He opened himself up to the critical spirit of our age. You and I have probably been here, but we haven't told anyone like he does in this book. I think his motive was to help us.

    He took us through the process of his coming out of this darkness. He gratefully acknowledged some strong friends who pushed and prodded him. He spoke of false steps and false starts and clear failures. He explained that his bitterness was a multi-layered thing where he had to dig deeper and deeper to unroot it. I highly recommend this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 11, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Healing your church hurt

    This book was a very interesting read. With all of the Christian books I review, I can't say I've come across many that broach this topic. This is a real issue in Christianity. It is one that I have personally experienced. The author, who has faced his fair share of church hurt, shares some of his story. However, he keeps things generally vague and goes into more detail for helping the reader. So, this book is not just him telling his awful story. This is for those that need healing. What I liked about this book was that the author started out recalling horrific things that happened to lead pastors and theologians in the early church (think Reformation era). He also writes about how suffering may be preordained as a means for making us more Christlike. He writes about how we should listen to others' criticisms and change what we need to but not take everything they say to heart--we are first and foremost identified by who Yeshua says we are, not who others say we are. The author also writes that anger and unforgiveness and lead to sin and even demonic activity. He goes into word studies quite often and has an impeccable writing style, both of which I enjoyed. What I will say I would have liked in this book that was missing was if the author wrote more about the spirit of the antichrist or how some may not be "good shepherds." However, one could argue that one would come to this conclusion from reading between the lines. Overall, this is a very good book. It helped me deal with a lot of my issues. We don't have to go back to churches that hurt us, but we ought to forgive from our heart and move on with our lives. Phil 3:13-14

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 16, 2012

    Road to Recovery

    If you are or have been an involved member in a church, you most likely have experienced "church hurt." Healing Your Church Hurt provides a way out from the hurt and bitterness in a rather direct, but loving manner. Throughout the book the author provides various exercises to work through that pave the way to the following steps and eventually to healing and finally wholeness. The sum of this book in a nutshell states that you can be free from the hurt and pain that comes through the hands of fellow Christians. The reality is we live in an imperfect world with imperfect people and attend imperfect churches. That means, there is potential for hurt and offense within the church. The entire book is a quick read. That said it is full of deeper processes that, if the reader wants to experience healing, needs to take the time to process, do some soul searching and some work, but it is guided by solid biblical principles and is explained in clear language.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 11, 2012

    Healing Your Church Hurt

    If you have ever been part of what the Greeks knew as the ecclesia, or “the called out ones”, better known today as the New Testament church, then it is likely that you have witnessed or been involved in a church hurt. As a result, either you or someone you know, made a decision to walk away from the “church”. George Barna says this “decision to permanently withdraw from a congregation” can be called “ecclesia exitus” or church dropout. In Stephen Mansfield’s new book “Healing Your Church Hurt; What To Do When You Still Love God But Have Been Wounded By His People”, he dives in to this issue and epidemic of hurt, offense, and discouragement within the body of Christ. Having been the pastor of a church who experienced a devastating church hurt himself, Mansfield is able to speak to this topic successfully.

    Mansfield did not write this book to simply tell the reader that people get hurt in church. Instead, he writes to assure those who were hurt that it is possible for them to reconnect with the body of Christ. Mansfield begins by giving the root of the problem of offense and hurt: human nature and sin. He then takes a look at how we tend to look at others. He believes that how we look at others may determine our willingness to mend a relationship and length of time it might take. This chapter brings out these types of questions: Have our expectations of others that didn’t prove to be true given weight to our hurt? Are we guilty of forgetting how ugly the human nature can be?

    Chapters four and five are the best chapters in the book and are very powerful. Chapter four entitled, “Lessons From a Season in Hell”, Mansfield asks the reader to do something. He asks, “I want you to take the most agonizing season of your life and examine it piece by piece.” He does this by asking five pointed and probing questions. They are:

    1. Of the things your critics said, what do you know to be true?
    2. How did you try to medicate your wounded soul?
    3. Were you clinging to anything that contributed to your church hurt?
    4. What did those closest to you do when you went through the fire?
    5. During the bruising season, what fed your inspirations and your dreams?

    In Chapter five, “The Throne Room of Your Mind”, Mansfield deals with how our minds process the hurt and how we tend to play the hurtful act over and over, rehearsing all the “should-have, could-have, and would-haves”. He demonstrates this by sharing a recurring dream that he has. As he sits on a grand throne, everyone who has wounded him becomes aware of their offense and they line up and come before him to make amends and tell him how sorry they are. As he enjoys having them in the palm of his hand, he touches them with his scepter and declares them forgiven. They exit thanking him for forgiving them, promising never to offend again. Of course, this is a fantasy. He says that we all have in our own minds a similar throne-room experience. Mansfield goes on to say that being hurt is about being offended, or suffering an offense. It is in this chapter that he gives to us a piercing word study demonstrating how devastating an offense can be. He concludes the book by dealing with forgiveness and restoration. He suggests that God may have a divine purpose for our hurt.

    Stephen Mansfield has written a powerful book. It is efficient and to the point. His advice is practical and immediately helpful. Healing Your Church Hurt is a must read for those who have been wounded by the body of Chr

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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