California Church Reflects on Hurts Caused By Churches

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In most communities there are people who have been hurt by a church but lack a safe gospel-centered place to express their pain. So pastor Marc Holland of City Life (Christian Reformed) Church created a communal environment for struggling people to heal.

On a Sunday in mid-March, the church hosted “Sunday for the Wounded” and reflected on church members’ hurts. “We all are running into so many stories of friends who were specifically hurt by things churches did or said, and we want to give safe space for people to process these wounds through the gospel,” said Holland.

Three church members shared hurtful experiences. A woman named Sara talked about her previous pastor’s struggles with infidelity, rejection, and pride, which caused her disappointment and frustration. “I am still healing from my wounds. I may always be in a state of healing. And I realize City Life isn’t the perfect church either. . . . But I can say that after witnessing what I saw this morning, I can take the next step,” she said.

Holland preached on Psalm 139, encouraging the congregation to practice self-examination and invite God to examine their own hearts. “Gospel community admits we’ve all been a part of the problem. The church has and will continue to inflict wounds, yet the gospel defines a grace-giving response,” he said. “Experiencing God’s forgiveness and healing is our endless source that turns us into people who can do this.”

Stan Brown, head of social media for City Life church, said, “This event was the capstone service of a series about sharing. Sharing your hurts with the community is a way of sharing yourself. We wanted to create a safe place where those who had hurts to share could do so safely and be taken seriously.”

Brown advertised this event through a Facebook campaign depicting pictures of wounded people.

This was the first “Sunday for the Wounded” hosted by City Life Church; Holland hopes to make it an annual event.

About the Author

Amy Toornstra is a freelance news correspondent for The Banner. She lives in Salem, Oregon.

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