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Sometimes church don't feel like it should. (uh uh) Make Church so Good
on March 27, 2012
If you are part of a church (and you should be), sooner or later you are bound to experience a `church hurt.' Everyday wounded people leave the church never to return because of their woundedness and others' jerk-face jerkiness. Trust me, I know. I have struggled to not be bitter at big-ego-pastors, manipulative back-stabbers, gossips and dismissive deacons. All too common and par for the course for many churches. I could tell you stories, my own and friend's stories, about how churches discriminate, dehumanize and destroy people. Clearly there are major problems.
In Stephen Mansfield's interesting book, he quite intentionally doesn't address any of the problems we find in church. You could read this book and the circumstances at the First Church of Senior Pastor Overcompensating may actually not change at all. Mansfield's purpose is a little more basic: he wants to help you heal and fix what you can inside of you, so you could rejoin the fold of God's people. From his own experience of church hurt and that of others he interviewed, he discovered:
No matter how petty the cause is, every religiously wounded soul I encountered was in danger of a tainted life of smallness and pain, of missed destinies, and the bitter downward spiral. And every soul I encountered had the power to be free, for each of them, no matter how legitmately, was clenching the very offense or rage or self-pity or vision of vengance that was making life a microcosm of hell (10).
So he wrote this book to help people move past their wounds, their pain and anger, their church hurt, to a place of healing, forgiveness and freedom.
Mansfield examines examples of betrayal and hurt from church history, the Bible and his own experience and reflects on how to manage betrayal and wounds without letting it poison your personal and ecclesial life. He offers helpful advice, provides questions to help people sort through how they are handling their wounds, and help them learn from the experience and he attends to possible spiritual dynamics and directs people on how to re-engage the church after experiencing wounds (possibly a different church, but not necessarily).
I wouldn't say that this is the most insightful book, but I really appreciate Mansfield's focus on helping people move on and not let their `church hurts' keep them from giving and receive love in the body of Christ. Certainly at different points in my own journey, a guide like this could have been helpful and may have guided me through some difficult circumstances.
Thank you to Tyndale House for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for this review.