You may recall Stsimon08that a few months ago I was working on a book called “Wounded by the Church,” thinking that I would use it for my Th.D. dissertation.  Well, I handed in my proposal, only to find that it wasn’t nearly “academic” enough . . . sigh.  There’s a definite form I have to follow, so back to the drawing board.  But I had invested a great deal of time into what I had written, plus some of YOU had been very helpful in sharing your thoughts and feelings in a poll.

So I thought I would share what I have already written over the next few days . . . and I hope to grab some time to complete the book.  And maybe, at some point, I’ll find time to complete that dissertation, too.  😉

So if you were kind enough to participate in my poll, thank you.  And I hope you’ll enjoy reading some of the results from your labor.





A few months ago I was with some Christian writer  friends and we were talking about church ministry, since most of us are involved in it in some way. One of my friends said, “I don’t understand how anyone can say they love Jesus, but they don’t love the church. Jesus said the church was his bride, so that’s like someone meeting me and saying, ‘I like you a lot, but I don’t like your wife at all.’  How is that possible?”
I suppose it’s possible for as many reasons are there are people who’ve said that. But, to carry my friend’s analogy a step further, if I didn’t like his wife, it would probably be because of something she had done to hurt me. Following the example of Christ, I could forgive her, but if she wasn’t repentant, or if she continued to hurt me, I might retreat from her and keep my friend at arms’ length.
So yes, in one sense I see how people can say that they love Jesus but don’t like the church.
I have been a faithful church-going Christian and married to a youth pastor for most of my life. And until several months ago, I could say that I had never been hurt by the church . . . but then a situation occurred with my husband’s position and I am still struggling with the right way to deal with the devastating hurt. I’m looking for spiritual, biblical answers, and it occurred to me that others might be doing the same thing.
I put a poll on my blog website and invited people who’d been wounded by the church to respond. In a matter of days I had nearly 300 responses, and dozens of emails from people who were willing to tell me anything I wanted to know. These people had been hurt, and they desperately wanted to tell their stories—usually because they didn’t feel free to speak up in the church. None of them wanted to cause trouble, but all of them wanted someone to understand how deeply they’d been wounded.
Since I owe my theology professors a dissertation, I thought this might be an interesting and thoroughly useful topic to explore: What is the church and how is it supposed to operate?

Surely God doesn’t want the church, his bride, to hurt his children. Surely he is grieved when his ministers inflict wounds on the people they are supposed to nurture and shepherd. He must be equally grieved when his children inflict pain and suffering on those He has called to shepherd the flock. So why are so many people being spiritually injured and what can we, the walking wounded, do to find healing for ourselves and others?
Ephesians 5:25 tells us that Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.
One day the Church will be perfect, mature and complete, but until then, the Church (the body of believers throughout the world) is composed of redeemed humans who are at different places in their journey toward spiritual maturity. So sometimes we fail to be compassionate. We misinterpret Scripture. We look to the world’s management and social systems to solve our problems. We plan our own plans and assume that because lightning didn’t strike from heaven to stop us, God must surely approve.
Then we make mistakes, and wonder why our church experience isn’t the heaven on earth we want it to be.
The Church may not be perfect and mature until eternity, but we can certainly do a lot to make sure our churches operate under biblical authority. We can learn what the church is and what it’s supposed to be. We can learn the scriptural principles that ensure honesty and safety among church leaders. And most of all, we can practical biblical communication, which will go far to establish a biblical church that is a place of healing and help.

I hope you’ll come along on this journey as we look not at what the church has become, but at what Scripture reveals about what it’s supposed to be.


  1. pamela kruis

    We hurt for you ,but we know God has a plan, and He will use this situation for His glory. He already has done great and marvelous things! We love you both. Gary is the best youth pastor ever!

    • Angie

      Thank you, Pam. 🙂 I’m not really hurting now; I’m more focused on pointing out what causes problems and how they can be fixed so this doesn’t happen again. Why are so many churches having these sorts of problems? Why are they being run like businesses instead of following the biblical example? What happened to biblical communication? These are the things I want to explore, because I believe this is where the answers lie. 🙂 Love you both!

  2. J

    So you’re going to tackle it, this topic so easily swept under the rug?
    Thank-you, from all of us who haven’t been able. The pain can be excruciating. Dismissive super-spirituals just demand, “You have to forgive, you’re called to forgive,” as if the sting of the salty truth wholly negates the need to grieve, to recover, to heal, to be comforted…

    Thank-you for giving voice to the wounded.

  3. Sheila

    Excellent, Angie!! SOOO needful!!

  4. Sherry Vargason

    Dear Angie,

    I believe is a shame and fairly short sighted of academia to suggest this topic is not “academic” in nature. They are not giving this devil its due. I would challenge their position.

    Perhaps I misunderstand their criteria. Likely, they have not examined this deeply theological issue that creates division, causes wounded believers to depart, trailing discouragement, woundedness and disillusionment.

    I could continue, having my own litany of grievances, but my point is merely this could be given the sound Biblical response necessary and be a lovely academic piece of healing work.

    Blessings in all your endeavors,

    • Angie

      It’s not the topic they objected to, Sherry, it was the form. I was writing a commercial nonfiction book; they want a book that follows this form (exactly this!):
      1. Problem, hypothesis, or question
      2. Importance of research
      3. Theory base for research
      4. Significant prior research
      5. Possible research approach
      6. Potential outcomes of research.

      LOL–doesn’t that sound like an awful lot of talking about HOW and WHAT you’re going to do without actually DOING it?


  5. Alan Read

    Gosh, what a great topic to research and write about! You got your theological angle, your human stories, your sociological side, your church organizational dynamic, etc.
    I taught a revival series years ago on anger and really struck a nerve with folks (no pun intended). I discovered the source of bitterness/anger stems from unmet expectations. We have this preconceived notion about how people ought to behave and when they don’t, we get angry and even hurt. We attend a church and expect the saints to act like they’re saints; especially the leadership. Gandhi’s famous line: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ” . . . “If it weren’t for Christians, I’d be a Christian.” So sad, isn’t it?
    I will never forget Gordon Luff telling us (LBC Chorale 40 years ago) one night at his house that “if this chorale is not what God wants it to be, then it is nobody else’s fault but yours (meaning each of us as individuals). If you will be filled with the Spirit of Christ, then you will become a source of revival and spiritual power that will allow Christ to change the group!” The problem is not my church or it’s leadership. It is me! I cannot control or answer for anyone else’s actions or decisions; only my own. I am to be dead to self. If I am dead, then I cannot be hurt or offended.
    I look forward to reading more from your research and journey, Angie. God bless!

  6. Diane Moody

    I’m so glad you’re sharing your findings with us, Angie. It’s obviously a sign you’re on to something when you got 300 responses that quickly! God always, always sees us through, even when the wounds linger far longer than we think they should. BLESS you for tackling this subject. Your research will surely help thousands of others who may someday find themselves on the path so many of us have walked. You go, girl!


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