8 Ways You can Help Those Who Have Been Hurt by the Church – iJesusAfrica iJesusAfrica.com

8 Ways You can Help Those Who Have Been Hurt by the Church

Every year, millions of church members worldwide stop going to church. Among them are those who’ve been hurt by the church.

These people have either been hurt by their pastor or church leadership, or they’ve been hurt by man-made church systems.

A person who’s been hurt by the church might still have faith in God while just distrusting church people. But some can question God’s love or existence, they might doubt their own faith and salvation experience, or they might outrightly hate God and Christianity.

These are strong feelings. Their experience is real to them, and it’s not your place to dismiss them. Instead, your goal should be to help them find healing and restoration.

How You can Help Someone Who’s Been Hurt by the Church

This involves knowing or trying to understand the effects of their church hurt beyond their decision to stop attending church. You need answers to these questions: What or who hurt them? How deep is the pain? What help can you offer?

1. Pray for them

Only God can truly heal those who’ve been hurt by the church. Before you attempt to convince such a person to return to the church, remember to pray more for them.

Pray that they will experience God’s amazing love that heals all wounds. Pray that God will make Himself more real to them. Pray Bible verses like Ephesians 1:18-20 over them. Pray more than you talk.

2. Don’t be in a haste to get them back to the church

Your goal should be to help them heal, not just have them back on the pews. If you get them back to the Lord, you will eventually get them back to the church.

And church must not be the same assembly that hurt them. Church is the Body of Christ. Someone hurt in one assembly can leave that church for another one and still be in The Church.

3. Listen to their story

Care about their story, their pain, and their private struggles. Don’t silence them. Don’t condemn or judge them. Listen and care to hear what really ails them.

4. Avoid insensitive statements, such as:

“You can’t stop going to the market because someone in the market hurt you.” Remember, some people who’ve been truly hurt by their church may have very deep struggles with faith and relationship with God. You shouldn’t compare their experience with someone hurt by a market woman or shopkeeper. The inner struggles are not the same.

“You go to church to meet God, not man.” This is another half true statement. We may go to church to meet God, but primarily it is to fellowship with and encourage each other (Hebrews 10:24-25). When people are hurt in the very place where they should find encouragement, comfort, peace, and love, it becomes difficult for them to find God in the gathering.

5. Lovingly help them take blame where necessary

People can be hurt by the church because of their own foolishness. If that’s the case—based on their story you must have listened to — help them take the blame. Then they can forgive themselves and begin to heal.

6. Help them get other help if necessary

Depending on the hurt, people may need more than encouraging words. Victims of sexual abuse or other forms of severe physical and psychological abuse may need psychotherapy or other types of treatment.

7. Encourage them not to quit on God

Remember, this is not about you asking them to come back to church. It’s helping them to see that their hurt, even though perpetuated by people who claim to know God, was not from God. It’s helping them take their blame off God to the people who truly hurt them.

It may not always be easy, but once you help them see that it wasn’t God who hurt them, they can begin to rebuild their trust in God.

8. Finally, encourage them to read their Bible and pray

Many people who’ve been hurt by the church have never given intimacy with God a good fight. Encourage them to do so once they begin rebuilding their trust in God. Help them dig into personal study and prayer until they know God as the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).


Knowing how to help those who’ve been hurt by the church is crucial in helping them deal with their faith struggles. Do it the right way and you gain them. Do it the wrong way and you further alienate them.

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