It takes place in South Carolina. I could hear the twang in the characters’ voices. Love that! At the center is a church and a misguided pastor. He manages to single-handedly nearly destroy a generation of believers in this one town.
On one of the last pages, are these lines which I wanted to share with you.
“It’s a good thing to see that people can heal after they’ve been broken, that they can change and become something different from what they were before. Churches are like that. The living church is made of people, and it can grow sick and break just like people can, and sometimes churches can die just like people die. A church can be healed, and it can be saved like people can be saved (pp. 305).
Over my lifetime, I have attended many different churches. I have been led by many different pastors. I have liked some, and not others.
But, I have never been hurt by a church body or a pastor to the point that I wanted to walk away from God and The Church and never go back again.
But, I have met people for whom this has happened.
In talking with them about their experiences, my heart has been, on every occasion, deeply troubled and saddened. It pains me to hear how the words and/or actions of a few, can destroy the faith of one or many.
I want to stand in the gap and apologize for the words and actions of people I have never met, but I do not doubt have caused deep doubts and mistrust in my friends who have been hurt. I want to seek my friends’ forgiveness as a member of the larger church body.
I am sorry we hurt you. Please forgive us.
Churches can break just like people. Well…churches are made of people. And, yes, church bodies can and do gossip, lie, cheat, steal, and in some cases physically hurt others.
I don’t know what else to say. I am so sorry for those of you who have suffered at the hands of a church body or a church leader. I am so sorry.
Have you experienced suffering at the hands of a body of “believers” or a church leader? If so, did you walk away from the church? How were you able to heal and come to a place of forgiveness? Were you ultimately able to come back and rejoin a church? If you are still struggling to heal, what will help you trust again?
And, finally, can churches be broken like people are broken? Can churches ultimately be healed and saved too?