12 Reasons Church Pain is So Painful

If you haven’t been through church pain, you probably will. We’re all fallen people—redeemed sinners—which means we sometimes still reflect our fallenness. Church pain, though, can be some of the deepest pain. Here’s why:

  1. We expect better. After all, this is the church. God’s people. They’re supposed to act Christian. Things shouldn’t be this way.
  2. We’re seldom prepared for it. We don’t go looking for conflict with church people. When it comes, it catches us off guard.
  3. We love God’s people. Deeply, even. God’s people can be great. Church battles, though, mangle relationships with those same people—and the depth of our love makes that pain even deeper.
  4. We don’t understand it. Why would God’s people act like they do sometimes? And, why would God allow it to happen? Our questions don’t help our pain.
  5. We look to the church for peace, not pain. Church ought to be our safe place—the one gathering where we can just rest our souls. Conflict robs us of that safety.
  6. It affects a big part of our lives. If we’re invested with a congregation, our church becomes an investment of all we have. That means any church pain affects all we are.
  7. It often doesn’t make sense. We elevate our preferences to the level of the gospel, guard our turf as if God’s church will disappear without us, and fight against those we call “brother” and “sister.” Church pain really hurts when the whole situation is dumb.
  8. It’s sometimes built around “he said” or “she said” rather than fact. That type of conflict can be especially painful when those involved don’t really know the facts.
  9. We put a lot of confidence in church leaders. We assume they’ll model Christianity and lead us well. When that doesn’t happen—and especially when we let the situation linger—the anguish is real.
  10. The enemy magnifies the pain. He wants us to remain bitter, angry, and unforgiving. When we stay in that state, our walk with God is seriously affected.
  11. We are idolatrous people—and sometimes we idolize our pain. That’s not to excuse anyone for causing pain; it’s simply to say that sometimes we choose to wallow in our pain rather than forgive. By definition, idolatrous pain is overwhelming.
  12. It just gets old. When you’ve faced church pain before and it happens again, you just get tired of it. It’s easy to wonder if being a part of a congregation is even worth it.

I’m praying today for everyone dealing with church pain.


  • Robin G Jordan says:

    As the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, the Anglican Church’s confession of faith, points out that even the regenerate do not lose their inclination to sin. That I am afraid is cold comfort but at least it provides a theological explanation of why individuals who see themselves as followers of Jesus Christ inflict pain on each other. Your articles on discipleship draw attention to one of the reasons that churchgoers do that sort of thing. They have not been discipled and they do not see that their actions are inconsistent with those of a genuine follower of Jesus Christ. Another reason is the dynamics of a particular church. A third reason is that church leaders may have a particular vision of the church that they are pursuing and the decisions that they make, while consistent with that vision, inflict pain on church members and attendees.A fourth reason is that a church member or attendee may be set on doing things a certain way and don’t take into consideration how it might affect others or in some instances the individual in question may not care. He is used to doing things his own way and if others don’t like it, that’s too bad.

    I had that happen to me. I was the worship leader for a midweek service and was working with an young unexperienced musician. One of the members of the planning committee for the service was not satisfied with what we were doing. He hired two musicians to lead the service in our place, persuaded the pastor and other committee members to go along with the plan, but said nothing to me or the musician with whom I was working. I did not learn about the change until a few minutes before the service.

    I also had a pastor persuade me to represent the church in a prison ministry weekend, only to learn at the initial planning meeting that the pastor had changed his mind and had written the chairperson of the planning meeting that church was not able to support the prison ministry weekend at that time. If I had known before hand, I would not have gone to the trouble to attend the planning meeting. He had apparently changed his mind well in advance of the meeting and could have informed me. He chose not to. I don’t believe that t was an oversight on his part.

  • Brian Thomas says:

    And it is even more painful when it comes at the hands of a biological immediate relative like I experienced.

  • mark says:

    People don’t want to lose friendships. Saying anything to a life-long personal friend about what (s)he did that was hurtful is rarely done. Thus, the person is never told anything and those who were hurt just begin to disappear.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.