BarnaBooks, an imprint of Tyndale House Publishing
"After everything that happened, I could never go back"
Is that how you feel? Or have you heard it from others? The stories are all too familiar: The church we once loved broke up or our favorite pastor was fired, or people left when the worship style changed. The former pastor had an affair or our kids didn't fit in at youth group or we had a major life crisis and no one from the church showed up to help. And so it goes.
Stephen Mansfield has been there. Though he is now a New York Times bestselling author, a popular speaker, and a consultant who advises leaders around the world, Stephen was also a pastor for twenty years. And he loved it for most of those two decades . . . until he learned how much a church can hurt. But then he also learned how to dig out of that hurt, break through the bitterness and anger, stop making excuses, and get back to where he needed to be with God and His people.
If you're ready to take the tough path to healing, Mansfield will walk you through it with love and understanding, showing you that something good is waiting on the other side of even the deepest church hurts.
I needed this book! This is an issue that I have had to deal with on more than one occasion and, in reading through this book, I realized that I still had hurt from two churches ago that I needed to deal with. Mansfield says at the very beginning that he isn't here to be a counselor. He plainly states that he isn't going to nurture, he is going to guide and teach skills to help overcome the hurt inside - and he does this job very effectively.
First off, I will warn you that this isn't a book that will hold your hand and empathize with you and tell you that everyone is out to get you, and that you are justified in being hurt and angry. Neither does he tell you to simply "get over it". Instead, he walks you through the process of healing, step-by-step. There are things that we who are hurt need to realize and accept, and one of those things is our part in our own hurt. Mansfield starts the book off by sharing about a boy whom he named Timmy (ostensibly to protect him) and Timmy's fondness for candy bars. He uses this anecdote as a springboard to launch into one very crucial aspect of our church hurt that we MUST come to grips with and eradicate: holding on to the hurt itself.
We often feel justified in our pain by reliving the hurtful incident over and over again, deepening the wound and never allowing it to truly heal. We must first let go of the pain that we hold on to. That is step one.
Mansfield writes Healing Your Church Hurt from the perspective of experience. His "been there, done that" style reinforces the truth that we are not alone in our pain and, reveals the reality that, if he can overcome it, so can we. His refreshing and engaging style mesh perfectly with the content of this book and it adds up to a book that I highly recommend to any and everyone that is dealing with scarring from fellow believers. There were many times that I saw myself in what he was describing and it caused me to rethink my 'right' to be hurt.
If you are dealing with pain that was caused by fellow believers, if you refuse to step foot in the door of a church because you have been burned by 'those hypocrites', or if you have shut yourself out of typical church settings for fear of enduring more pain at the hands of those who should be helping to heal, you need to read this book.
I firmly believe that every Christian should read this book.
I received this book for free as a part of the Tyndale blogging for books program. I was not required to write a positive review as a condition of receiving the book. I honestly loved it.
The Issue May Be with the Church, but it is also an Issue with You:
A Book Review of Healing Your Church Hurt
Back in December Tyndale Publishers announced another blog tour. This time there were two books available The Resignation of Eve and Healing Your Church Hurt. I would be lying to say both of these titles caught me a little off guard, and I again chose to participate in the blog tour because I again thought I was going to see yet another attack against the Church. I have not received The Resignation of Eve but I did receive Healing Your Church Hurt.
Healing Your Church Hurt is written by Stephen Mansfield with a forward from George Barna. The forward by George Barna starts off with Barna bringing up a few occasions when he experienced church hurt from various congregations and leaders of churches he attended. Getting through the forward was kind of challenging because it seemed to be a slight against the body of Christ. However, it was this premise which Mr. Mansfield was addressing in this book, how we are to heal from church hurt.
As I began to read this book I went in with the assumption of this being an attack on the body of Christ. I was sure that this book would stir up passions of insult and injustice on the fellowship of believers. However, as the old adage goes "never judge a book by its cover." Within the first chapter my assumptions were not just addressed, but quite frankly, blown right out of the water. So now I will share with you all some of what I got out of this book and what I think you can get out of it as well.
In Chapter One, "The Image of Our Folly", Stephen addresses three important truths to the reader that are necessary if one is to benefit from reading this book. His three truths are; first, he is a coach not a counselor; second, he mentions how one cannot become free of Church hurt unless someone gets tough with them, and then finally he addresses what was my initial concern. I will use Mr. Mansfield's own words to explain this point.
Finally there is a myth we need to knock in the head_When we've been hurt by the church we often tell ourselves that we are going to keep on loving Jesus but that we no longer want anything to do with his people. We say this to ease our pain but we are fools when we do. (Mansfield 2012)
This is a major point that often is not addressed as well as it should be. How often do people say that they still love Jesus, and can worship Him privately and will not attend a public gathering of believers in Christ? Hebrews 10:24-25 says, "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." (English Standard Version 2001)
People who have been hurt by others, have a natural tendency to hold on to this hurt, and to become victims of the circumstances that have befallen them. People will then generally respond to this sense of victimhood in one of two ways. They will both retreat into their shell, and remove themselves from regular interaction with people. The second possible response is for the hurt individual to become confrontational, and tell everyone how poorly they were treated, or what wrongs were committed against them. Mansfield takes the time in this book to show how people do not have to retreat into either of these two spectrums of response, but how to take their hurt, and learn from it.
Another common situation that Mansfield addresses is the tendency of people to feel as if they are all alone, or no one can understand how they feel. Mansfield dedicates the second chapter of Healing Your Church Hurt to an introduction of several men throughout history who experienced their own hurts at the hands of those who were their friends. These notable people in history are Abraham Lincoln, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Vincent Van Gogh, and others. The main focus of "The Sea Breeze of the Centuries" is the fact that regardless of how we feel, we are not in our hurt alone.
Of course there is so much more I could say about this book. What I will say is I went from a skeptic to a believer on the points that Stephen Mansfield makes in this book. What I was originally thinking I would rate as a 1 out of 5 stars I now gladly give 5. If you have been hurt by the Church, and I do know some who have been, I think you may find some of the answers you are looking for in Stephen Mansfield's Healing Your Church Hurt.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
"Healing your Church Hurt" was written by Stephen Mansfeld and deals with the modern epidemic of people leaving the church due to "church hurt". This book is much needed and an answer to pray for many. I received a copy of this book to review from Tyndale House Publishers.
Personally I have found this book to be an incredible resource, knowing people who have left the church due to "church hurt". The author takes the approach of a coach, helping provide counsel on how to acknowledge hurt, heal and get back into to fellowship. If you are looking for a book that will provide sympathy and coddle readers, this is not the book for you. Stephen provides tough love and avoids pity in this book. It is very clear in scripture that we need to be in fellowship and to avoid the Body of Christ is simply not an option. This book provides very practical steps as to how to overcome church hurt. The author handles this well in not sugar coating the issue, it is sin to not walk in fellowship with believers and gather for worship.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who knows a person struggle with church hurt or who has left the church. I highly recommend this book for all believers to read as we nearly all will encounter church hurt or others who have faced it.
Anyone who has ever been part of a church has most likely gone through a church hurt. If you haven't, you probably know someone who has had a bitter experience. New York Times bestselling author Stephen Mansfield suffered with his own church pain when he was a pastor; In the pages of Healing Your Church Hurt ( previously published as ReChurch), he walks us through, not only his own pain, but gives examples of others who have experienced this.
Whether you were in a position of leadership, or an attendee who chose to not be involved with other church activities, or somewhere in between, the chances of being hurt are present, and can make a powerful impact. Hurts do not have to be a permanent wedge between you and the church or your relationship with God. It also does not matter whether you were wronged, or the one who caused the problem; the point is to seek out the place where you are serving God for His pleasure. We too often set our expectations on what feels right to us, and then blame the church when others fail to reach our standards and wants. I especially liked the chapter that discussed what attitude you should have if it does become necessary for you to find another community of believers to join. The pastor, the building, the music, the opportunities, etc---each may make for your happiness, but, what happens when circumstances change? What are you looking for when you seek another church? More importantly, are you working through your pain and using this as growth and maturity? Stephen looks at church hurts from a variety of angles and offers comfort and constructive criticism in order to facilitate healing.
This book is great whether it is you going through the hurt and healing process, or to give to another who needs it.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own.