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Church Hurt Q&A: How Do I Go Back To Church After They Hurt Me?

November 5, 2021

Church hurt is real. It’s an unfortunate reality that we have to deal with living in a broken world. Humans are imperfect beings, and that is no different for Christians, or Christians in leadership.

Dr. Cassie Reid is the creator and director of Master of Marriage & Family Therapy graduate degree program at The King’s University in Southlake, Texas. She works with Church Rehab, which started as a vision in 2012 to provide a safe place for those in ministry, those hurt by ministry, and everyone in between. She personally works and helps those who have experienced deep hurt by the church, and helps them heal.

Dr. Reid is here to answer your questions on church hurt.

Question: I’ve never been in a good church and I have PTSD from the church hurt I’ve been through. The idea of going back into one makes me physically sick. I want to connect with other believers… but I also kind of don’t. Close to none actually understand my mental health struggles and will put me down for them and tell me I’m not a good enough Christian or that I just need to pray it away. I feel like I’m drowning. Help!😭

Dr. Reid: Can I tell you this is one of my biggest pet peeves? You cannot always just pray away chemical imbalances. I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit and supernatural healing, but not in the shaming of individuals for processing their mental health. I think your definition of PTSD is correct. Re-entering environments comprised of individuals who dish out shame and judgement would most definitely trigger memories from past spiritual abuse trauma. I would encourage you to find a group of individuals who share your same beliefs, rather than a group of individuals who try to judge and change them. 

You are the judge and the only one who can determine the type of Christian that you are. It is not up to anyone else to decide that for you, I am sorry that has been your experience.

Question: I’m a pastor of a church and I’m more wondering if there is any changes you think I can make that would be preventative of any form of abuse or accusations happening?  I never want to be in that position with anyone in my church so how can I prevent this better?

Dr. Reid: First of all, thank you. If more pastors would ask this question, spiritual abuse would be a less significant topic for all of us. Here are a few things I typically suggest:

  1. Don’t insulate yourself- surround yourself with people who can tell you no
  2. Communicate- communicate well, communicate often, and communicate clearly
  3. Protocols- establish healthy protocols for any kind of accusations or counseling related content
  4. Training- train your staff and volunteers on spiritual abuse, healthy communication, and mental health
  5. Open door- be approachable to those you lead and the people in your congregation, you aren’t a celebrity, you got into this for the people, try not to forget that.

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