I’m not a “health nut”, but I’ve learned something important about being healthy… It hurts.
Being unhealthy hurts, too.
When you plant a church, at the center of your motivation needs to be two things: God and people.
Planting always needs to be a response to a call. I’ve written about that before.
Planting also always needs to be focused on people.
I came back to our rural, Southern town to start a brand new church because I love the people of this community. I always have. This is place where people wave to you when they pass you in a car, where people pull over to honor a funeral procession, and where we still value being nice to each other. I’m so glad God has allowed us to live here.
When we started Vortex, I had no idea that our church (and me) would hurt people. I still dislike this very much. It’s been the source of much of my quiet pain and struggle for the past few years, but it is unavoidable.
Here are three ways that a church hurts people…
#1 – People are hurt by the sinfulness of others.
A church is a group of people, and any time there is a group of people there is a collection of sin.
People in church aren’t perfect; Pastors aren’t perfect. Our imperfections aren’t often preferences. It’s often sinfulness.
One of the most important truths about sin to wrestle with is that sin impacts our relationship with God AND others. We often avoid the fact that our sins impact other people, but they do.
In our church, I’ve watched the sinfulness of one impact and hurt others. Sometimes it’s subtle, but most of the time it’s brutal.
Far too often our response is to disassociate the hurt from the people who were sinful and associate the pain to God and the promises of the Gospel. In this way, people far too often run from meaningful community after being hurt in a church.
A healthy perspective allows us to view the sinfulness of others in light of our own. We’ve hurt other people. We’ve offended them, too. We’ve needed grace and forgiveness. What we have received, we freely give.
#2 – People are hurt by the organization of the church.
The local church is an organization of people who have united around the cause of spreading the hope and love that the Gospel has brought to us.
As we leaders shape the organization of the church there will always be strengths and weaknesses to that organization.
There is no such thing as a perfect church. In our imperfections, we’ve hurt people along the way. I hate this. Of all the ways hurt creeps into a church, this is the worst. It’s also unavoidable.
There are often decisions that we make, as a team or simply as a leader, that will inevitably lead to hurting someone. Even the right decision will often hurt people.
This is why we must continually work to recenter ourselves on the two most important things in our church: Jesus and the people He has sent us to reach. We must be willing to be open and honest about our failures in repentance, and we must be willing to make adjustments when we miss the mark.
#3 – People are hurt by the Truth.
When we started Vortex, my heartfelt commitment was that if someone was going to be hurt or offended, I wanted them to be hurt by the Truth.
The wounds that come from the Truth are healthy. They allow us to face our faults and sinfulness, be healed, and move forward into new life that is only found as we are restored in Jesus.
It would be a mistake as a leader to not want this sort of pain for our people, because it is precisely this sort of thing that leads us to a progressive relationship with Jesus.
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How has pain drawn you to or pushed you away from God?