How to Survive Church

For the first time in my life, I felt like giving up on church. Why set myself up for more heartache?

Reprinted with permission from Discipleship Journal.

"I finally understand people who give up on church."

My friend Dee was one of the last people I expected to utter those words. Although she had suffered her share of misunderstandings and wounding criticisms during her decades of ministry in the church, she continued to advocate church attendance and participation. Now her pastor's hurtful treatment had left her dazed and disheartened. She didn't seem to have the motivation to bounce back.

Sometimes I think that church involvement should come with a warning label: "Caution: May lead to disappointment, grief, and loss of appetite for church life."


I first grew disillusioned with church 17 years ago when the small church in which myhusband and I were youth directors blew apart due to an irreconcilable conflict betweenour pastors--one of whom was my dad. Through two years of church-wide turmoil, Ispent myself providing moral support to my parents while carrying a full ministry load.I organized youth activities, coordinated weddings, and led a women's Bible study--inaddition to caring for my young family.


By the time the dust settled, many of our friends had moved to other churches, our congregation was a battle-weary shell of its former self, and I was wrung out emotionally and spiritually. Our recovery process was slow and frustrating, but my husband and I assured ourselves that the worst troubles were over.

Then it happened again.

This time, the leadership crisis was even more devastating. Until then, my husband and I had never considered leaving the church in which we had both grown up. But after a long season of prayer, we sensed God directing us to move on.

To our relief, we quickly found a church that seemed the perfect fit. Within months we were both active in leadership. A few years later, I was hired to assist our women's ministry director. I had found my niche. Life was good. Surely our church troubles were history.

Then it happened again.

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