When Church Hurts

2004 – Every Nation Graduate School of Campus Ministry (GSCM)

Our time at school in California was wonderful and hurtful all in the same breath.  Our days were filled with classes and studies.  At night we watched TV or went to the beach.  Life was amazingly simple and friendships were created with ease.  We enjoyed everything about California.  The weather, the sunshine, and the freedom it offered.  However, despite all of the incredible benefits we still felt like fish out of water.  We couldn’t seem to fit in or find our place among the sea of leaders from around the world.

We were pastored by one of the founders of Every Nation and one of his right hand men was assigned to disciple Barry and me.  We felt honored and nervous.  It seemed as though we would never meet up to their level of expertise or influence.  After all, they were wearing designer clothes, and discipling famous actors and athletes while we were shopping the clearance aisle at Ross and witnessing to college students in Long Beach.  The pressure I felt on my appearance in Louisiana was magnified as we faced the seemingly elite members of the church each Sunday.  I wondered how anyone outside of this crowd could ever feel welcome in a church so preoccupied with name brands and status.  I left church each Sunday on edge.  I wanted to see people reached out to, but instead I heard messages on becoming wealthy and influential, while arrogant men flaunted their power from the pulpit each week.

My heart began balancing on a fine line.  Each time I searched for Christ within the lives of those in leadership I came up empty-handed.  Instead of love I found expectations and rules, or correction and condemnation. I felt alone in my discoveries…that is until the truth began to unfold.  To say it was damaging would be an understatement.  Barry and I sat in shock when we finally heard the news of all that had happened during our stay and after we left.  As broken people started to share their stories of control and abuse things began to make sense…one heartache at a time.  We hurt for them, we understood their pain and in the midst of it all, we realized we were in a similar situation.  We felt trapped and silenced.  My heart was aching and the more I searched for answers, the more I was rebuked.

5 thoughts on “When Church Hurts

  1. “I wanted to see people reached out to, but instead I heard messages on becoming wealthy and influential. Any and everything that could be preached regarding prosperity echoed from the pulpit.”

    ohhh emmm geeee Jana.
    i have to tell you a story of when i questioned that very fact, that we were hearing all about prosperity while the Gospel was all about meek and lowly, poor and destitute, (and how i was “dealt” with).

    you are inspiring me to write it all. let it all out. even if only or myself.
    just to be honest, for a while i began to think that when i wasn’t prospering financially, that there was some hidden “sin” in my life. (and vice versa.) and i began placing that judgment on others. it wasn’t until my internship at Mission Waco last summer, my time with the homeless community, my experiences daily with precious people in poverty, and the love i found at church under the bridge that i realized how much of a big fat lie that was. and how UNBIBLICAL.

    of course, if someone’s struggling financially, it may be because they haven’t been making the wisest decisions with their money, maybe haven’t been stewarding it perfectly, or something like that. but wait, OR…. you work for a nonprofit org and you just don’t get paid much!!! lol. and you’re okay with it!!
    man there were so many things that stuck to me years after i left that “place”. but praise God im getting more and more free one day at a time!!

    1. oh, hope. yes. i know. i was on the opposite coast, employed as the executive assistant there, and always thought there was some sort of sin in my life, too. or that if i gave more, god would be more inclined to bless me…

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