Saturday, May 19, 2012
Healing Your Church Hurt
By: Stephen Mansfield
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.