Getting to serve at Northern Illinois University I get to meet a lot of interesting people. Each person comes with lives impacted by the church. Some have been raised and come to know the church in a beautiful way. The church has hurt some people I meet. Other's have no interest in being part of the church for various reasons.
The painful truth I am encountering more and more are those hurt by the church. Each person I meet comes with a unique story of betrayal, isolation, rejections, shame, and judgment. It breaks my heart hearing these stories. Recently one of our students revealed her heartbreaking story in our newsletter. Ruby's story is one of isolation and judgment. Her story crushes my heart for one big reason; isolation and judgment is not the church.
The church by its very definition is about community — not isolation but being in fellowship with each other. Judgment should not come from the church based on what they do or have not done in the church. To isolate someone merely because they are not where you are in their walk with Jesus does not permit you to judge, look down, or criticize them. I would argue the Christian response would be encouragement, commitment, and welcoming to the person.
In our ministry at
BCM we seek to help people who have suffered from hurt by churches by offering a place of safety, love, and inclusion. Each person met out in the community of NIU or walking through our doors has been shown respect for where they are in their journey and encouraged through our commitment to be with them as they journey farther with Christ. It is vital in our churches that we reach out to those broken and hurt by the church and offer them a safe place to heal. We may not get them in a church door for a long time, but your faithful presence can lead to significant healing. We should in humility and honesty approach our broken and hurt siblings with love and understanding, gentleness and compassion.
So join us in our ministry to love those hurt and broken by churches by offering them a new and resurrected life.