Good Friday’s Answers to Wounded Church Members

Christ’s crucified body holds the pain experienced by the church body.

I serve as a priest in an Anglican church in Dallas, and I have the privilege and responsibility of pastoring many people who have experienced pain at the hands of a church. Some in our congregation have been outright abused. Some have had their faith shaken by the fall of a leader. Some have been pushed out of congregations for asking legitimate questions.

And while church hurt may not always be the best term to name and collect all these different experiences, it is undeniable that many in my own congregation have suffered harm from the body of Christ. There is a distinction between a church hurting someone and the church hurting someone, especially in terms of the healing and reconciliation that must happen locally and person to person. But it is just as important to frame our experiences of pain within the church as a whole.

After all, Paul insists that Christ has one body, the church, being built up in love into the fullness of Christ our head (Eph. 4:4, 15–16). He also insists that when one member of the body suffers, all suffer (1 Cor. 12:26). A robust view of the church as Christ’s body must embrace both the integrity and health of that body and the pain that body experiences from its own members.

In hearing the stories of pain in our congregation, our church has felt the responsibility of caring for these people well. My wife, a licensed counselor, and I wanted to address these hurts in a setting where we could acknowledge their wounds and try to help them take a meaningful step toward healing. So we recently hosted a weekend seminar called “The Pain and Promise of Christian Community.”

We knew that we couldn’t deal with all the complexities of every story in our time together, but we could …

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