church wounds

This post is probably going to be somewhat controversial, and maybe not to many people I don't know, but specifically to those I DO know.  With that being said, please know this is not meant to hurt feelings, point fingers, look 'holier than thou,' or burn bridges.  Nor is this post meant to say I'm right and you're wrong. This is simply a post to get out feelings I've harbored inside for quite some time and have come to a place in my life where I'm ready to get them out so I can move on.  It's also really lengthy, so bear with me. I'd really appreciate positive feedback, whether you disagree respectfully or fully agree with me!

I grew up in a very small, independent Baptist church.  Skirts, King James version bibles, hymns, ties, fire and brimstone sermons were all part of this church.  And for many years this was all I knew.  My parents went there, so of course I went there as well.  I had many wonderful friends at this church, and still consider many of those people dear to my heart.  Even still, I knew something about the way worship was portrayed at this church was not fit for me, or the convictions Jesus placed in my heart.  I knew there was more to God than reading "thees" and "thous," and wearing skirts on Sunday mornings.  It was all too idealistic for me, in that "if we do this, this, and this, we are good for the week, oh ya and we're the only right church." It didn't make sense to me that independent Baptist churches were the only right church, as believed by many there.

Around the age of 7 or 8 a lot of my friends started getting baptized.  This outward profession of faith was almost the ticket to being in the "secret club" of this church.  Everyone accepted you after you became a member of the church.  You could then take part in Communion and have your birthday announced in the Sunday bulletin.  But until then, you were the black sheep of the church.  As awful as that sounds, it's exactly how I felt for the duration of my time there.  After my friends had all been baptized at this young age, all eyes turned to me. "Why hasn't she?" "When will she be?"  I was a timid 8 year old little girl and the last thing I wanted to do was stand in front of 100 people [or so] and profess my faith.  It was fear that stopped me at such a young age.

As I grew older and gained more understanding of my faith, I knew going to church was right, and getting baptized was a command from God, but I also knew I never wanted to attend church on Sunday mornings, and I didn't want to be a member of THIS church.  I would fake sick on Sundays just so I wouldn't have to sit through another sermon feeling like the Pastor was yelling at me as he shouted from the pulpit.  I always asked to be excused near the end of each sermon so I could avoid the awkward invitationals, because each week I felt like everyone expected me to go forward and finally get baptized.

It never made sense to me why my little "sin" of not being baptized put such a wall between me and everyone else accepting me.  It really puzzled me when I realized all of the terrible things that teens in our church were taking part in, (drugs, sex and alcohol) yet somehow their sins were overlooked.  Even some adults were living questionable lifestyles outside of church but were not questioned inside church because they were able to put on a good front.  I'm a really honest person and will more than likely tell you my life story if you ask.  I have nothing to hide and to this day, I am bothered by those who live double lives. Everyone struggles with sin, whether it be drugs, cheating, or lying...everyone has something. Why not just admit what it is so others can help you? Why keep up the facade? It has to be eating away at you..ANYWAY sorry to get off on a tangent..I know my choice to not be baptized at their church was viewed as disobedience in their eyes, but was it really disobedient of me to not join a group of believers I didn't agree with? I had no choice of going to another church at the time, because we went to church as a family, no questions asked. 

Some people at this church weren't beyond making someone feel uncomfortable.  I remember one Sunday morning in particular.  There were 4 people [including myself] in my Jr High Sunday school class.  It was the first day in our new class.  All 4 of us had grown up together and everyone knew that I was the only one who had not yet been baptized. Well, the teacher [whom I also grew up with, and had known since birth] decided that his first question to us in this new class would be "Who in here has been baptized?" As if for some reason he hadn't been around the last 14 years and seen all 3 of my friends get baptized? Give me a break...anyway! The 3 friends I had grown up with all raised their hands and I sat there with my hand down, once again, the unaccepted black sheep.  Just because I had not become a member of what I soon referred to as THEIR church, not MY church. That was the final straw.

I finally started asking questions.  I asked my parents, I asked God, I asked others around me. Why did men wear suits on Sunday mornings, ties on Sunday nights and jeans on Wednesday nights?  Don't we worship the same God every hour, every day, all around the world?  Why are upbeat worship songs wrong? I assume since you condemn them for church worship you don't listen to anything with a drumbeat during the week? Do you not listen to Christian radio on week days or even worse contemporary secular radio?  What makes the KJV Bible the only accepted one?  No answer was good enough for me.  I was 14 when I told my parents I could no longer worship at their church.  The principles of the church made no sense to me.

I had been attending a weekly youth group at another, more contemporary church close by.  After a lot of prayer and family discussions, they finally decided to join me and part ways with the independent Baptist church.  It was like a breath of fresh air, so cliche I'm sorry, but it's true.  I almost felt like I discovered a new God after leaving that church.  A God whose love is everlasting, a God who sent His son, Jesus to die for me AND the people who don't wear suits to church.  He died for the people who listen to secular music, He died for the people who like to dance, He died for the people who do drugs, He died for the too timid to be baptized, scared, 8 year old girl.

All too often Christians get caught up with the dos and donts of Christianity and it takes away from the beautiful message of salvation. While it is important to remain obedient to the Scriptures, and encourage our brothers and sisters if we see them fall.  We must first look at our OWN lives and let God take care of the judging. Matthew 7:1-3 "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?"

I know it was never the intention of the church members to exclude me and point fingers, but as a child I was deeply hurt by these people. Though we left the church by choice and found hope in God at a new place of worship, we still felt hurt and disowned from the members there.  People stopped calling us, told us our new church was not doctrinally sound, and that we would be back eventually. Years later I am still hurt by the way this church treated me, which is why I chose to write it all out.  I have forgiven those who outright pointed fingers at me, but the wounds will always be there. At the church I attend now, baptism is preached, but not in such a way that condemns those who haven't yet made that step of faith.  Baptism is presented as an outward profession of the miracle that has been done in your heart once you accept Jesus as your Savior. It is seen as an exciting milestone in one's life, one to be celebrated and praised for, not as a right into some secret acceptance club. My parents have since moved to an even more contemporary church, and my husband and I have done the same.

Again, this post was not meant to burn bridges with those friends of mine who still attend this church, I don't think they are bad people nor do I wish to hurt their feelings. This was a post to release pain I've had toward actions taken by some who attended during the time I was there. I have not been to this church in many years, and it may have changed since then, but this was my experience for the duration of my time there. I was given a firm foundation at this independent Baptist church, and wouldn't be who I am today had I not attended there in my youth.  In addition to the foundation I was provided, I have also maintained many solid friendships over the years, with members there, and I love those people dearly. However, I don't agree with a lot of the church teachings and will never be back.

For the record, I don't call myself a religious person.  I prefer to call myself relational because I don't have a religion with Jesus, I have a relationship with Him.. Oh, and I apologize if I began rambling on and making no sense, it was hard to condense this post. I could really write a book about this.

Have you ever been wounded by church?


  1. it's really sad to me when i hear about these sort of churches. they're not acting in love like Christ. :\ therefore, not as a good representation as His body. His bride.

    our church is pretty good; lots of the people like family. we've been going since i was a baby. heh:)

    about worship, and music? worship is a mode of the heart. people who love making rules and living by letters of the law like pushing untruths on believing souls. and that's pretty darn sad.

    such an interesting post, dear. but i do love reading about blogger ladies' history, church, seasons of life though.

  2. What a wonderful post!

    I am actually struggling to find faith, because I was wounded at a young age when I went to meet my biological sisters, who were adopted by missionaries. Their parents treated me like I was a problem, and something was wrong with me, and the way my adoptive parents were bringing me up. I never got over feeling judged by them, and unfortunately it was my only impression of Christians, for many years.

    My fiance has taught me what it means to believe and have faith, although I am still discovering my own system of belief. I love "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you," because I have seen the harm it does to good people.

    I try my hardest not to judge others, and to show compassion. I also don't adhere to all the rules that people seem to have made. I like drinking alcohol. I do live with my fiance out of wedlock. I know we love each other, and it is the right thing, you know?

    Thank you so much for such a wonderfully thought out post!

    Have a great week :-)

  3. I think you made the right choice by leaving that church. I don't understand why people make judgements when the God they pray to is so forgiving and accepting. It makes me wonder. I'm not particularly religious, but I do belong to the Catholic faith. I went through the motions of first communion and confirmation mainly to make my grandparents proud (not for myself). In the end, I'm glad I did it-- my church was welcoming and didn't center around the "dos and don'ts" of Catholicism. It strengthened my bonds with family members, which ultimately was the most important thing to me.

    I have, however, visited another Catholic Church (in Nebraska where my gma lives) and it threw me for a loop. I do not do well with the fire and brimstone nonsense, but to each their own.

    I'm glad you're doing what is right for you and your faith. It's very admirable.

  4. I think your post was honest, real, and in my opinion, did not give off any type of 'holier than thou' attitude. What you wrote about needs to posted and for the public eye to see, and I think it's awesome that you did it, even when it can possibly strike up controversy. Good for you! I'm so sorry you had to go through that with your old church. It's so sad to see division in a church thats supposed to act as a family. It shows your character for you to stand up and leave a church that has views you don't agree with!

  5. I have been wounded by a church. It was a branch of the Southern Baptist Churches. I enjoyed my time there but any time I asked questions, they would hound me like dogs. Making sure I wouldn't stray.

    I strayed and I have trouble believing now altogether. I've went from church to church, religion to religion and have no found my peace. It tears me up inside.

    I'm glad you wrote this post. Sorry you had such a horrible experience but it looks like you aren't the only one. Might I say that church might be damaging at such a young age? At least baptisms & full professions of faith? I feel like the pressure should be completely taken off children until they are absolutely ready. Coming from a Southern Baptist church, that pressure was always on like Donkey Kong :/

  6. I grew up in kind of a similar church. It's part of the reason I had huge issues with my faith and even decided I didn't believe in God at one point. I'm finding my way back but it's still a struggle with me...but I've finally separated what people say and do versus what God wants.

    I agree with the "relational" thing too...I much prefer talking to God and worshiping God in my own way, having a close relationship with him, instead of focusing on rules and whatever.

    I think everyone should go to a church (or not go at all) that they feel comfortable in and where they agree with the views and ways of worship. Some people prefer more sedate, formal, ritualistic worship and some people love praising God by singing songs, playing music, etc. I think none of it is wrong, necessarily, but it can be wrong for some people.

  7. What an amazing post. I feel the same way sometimes about church. I don't understand some things and I'm sorry you had to go through that. It's great that you wrote this on your blog and shared your story with others!

  8. This is great. I think when we get too caught up in dos and don'ts, we miss the whole point of God- grace.

  9. this is awesome, lady. i am so glad that you shared this. from the comments above, i can see that most everyone has similar feelings. i also think this was probably therapeutic for you to get out in the open.

    i think that most everyone has church wounds, even people that have never been to church. it's sad when Christians are turning fellow believers away, so i can only imagine what they are doing to non-believers. that's sad to think about.

    i also think this is really important to get out in the open because i think it's something that not a lot of Christians talk about--with non-believers AND with each other. unfortunately, one bad experience can turn anyone away. i still have a hard time going to Sunday morning church services--so now i only go to church in the evening. silly to some, but that stems from church wounds of my own.

    i love that you call yourself relational. God is a big God and a good God and He doesn't limit our relationship with Him by the church we go to, the denomination we identify with, or when you really get down to it, by even going to church at all. for a time, i kind of got over church and didn't attend at all for about 2 years. i got criticism from old church friends, but that didn't matter to me because those 2 years were some of the strongest spiritual years of my whole life. God can reach us wherever we are, in a church building or not.

    sorry for the ginormous comment, haha. thank you so much for sharing this with everyone. i am so thankful to have you as a sister in Christ<3 keep pushing forward and be wherever God has called you to be.

    love you :)

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  11. What a great post. I often felt the same way growing up. I was raised in a Missionary Baptist Church, which is pretty similar to Independent. I had to wear a skirt or dress to every service, sit quiet and sing hymns. I was saved and baptized at an early age, but I still felt...repressed. Now, when I was younger I didn't realize that because it was all I'd ever known. I really started to feel that way when I was a teenager. I had so few friends at the church my parents were attending and I literally dreaded Sundays. It wasn't until my senior year of high school and then in college that I realized what TRUE worship was like. Finding the right church is hard for anyone, I think. And straying from what we've always known to find what God wants for us can be difficult. I'm glad that you didn't let the first church destroy your want and need to go to church. A lot of people do, and it saddens me.

  12. Wonderful!!! I actually grew up with the same kind of church...and I made the same mistake twice and have recently left ANOTHER church.

    It wasn't until I met my husband and we are as well relational :) We're happy that we have a wonderful relationship with our Lord and Savior :) We love dressing up for church but even then...a cute sundress and khakis for him never hurt anyone :)

    It's a truth that should be be ringing from the top of mountains and treetops that God is love and His son died for us on the cross because we DO sin! Thank you for this and I loved every word you posted :)

  13. when a church stops being a vessel of love and growth and fellowship, it might be best to cut ties and find one that fulfills you and your beliefs, as it sounds like you've done. it's true that having a relationship (lovely way to put it, by the way), is so much more than going to church, but how lovely and beautiful to find one that accepts you. there's just nothing like being among other believers to strengthen your faith.

    beautiful, beautiful blog.

  14. I dare say I have some wounds from a Bible college over similar things--- thank you for being open and honest. My husband was raised in the strict, conservative Baptist church like you, and my church wasn't Baptist, but my church was very similar, with some beliefs that were a struggle for me.

    God bless and thanks again for your open, honest, thought-provoking post <3

  15. I really enjoyed reading this post. I didn't grow up in church or begin attending church until I was in high school. This made the transition into church hard for me.

    I have been hurt by a church as well as a Bible college. I think you do learn to forgive, but as you said the wounds are still there. I took a break from church for awhile---it helped me and my husband to realize what we needed. We are now attending a church that we both enjoy and feel we are growing from. It isn't perfect, but we finally feel we are becoming accepted somewhere.

  16. Oh Nicole, if only we could have had a conversation about this YEARS ago. I have had similar hurts from the very same pews. Although I didn't grow up in the church so even after I was baptized I was still left out of the bulletin and "the club." I so identify with this post, in so many ways. The love of our Father is so much more than church attendance, a quick dip in the church baptismal pool and who always outs something in the offering plate. I often wondered why people were called out for not being baptized while others who were baptized were not called out for attending church while living their lives as freely as those who do not believe and follow the Lord do.

    I wish I had time to post on every one of your blogs posts, you are so talented. You will be blessed with this use of your time while Mr is gone. It will give you something to look back and cherish the days that he is gone. And if you ever want to take some pictures of super cute kids...I would love to have a visit :) Love your heart sweet girl, keep blogging whether it's 2 or 200 :)