Beyond the Broken Church – Sarah Cunningham

15 Mar

old churchThe church is broken – not due to a design flaw, but through the use of faulty material.  The church is broken because it is ridden with pockets of sinful human nature.  As the church attacks and wounds its own, the impact and cultural influence of this sacred institution dwindles.  In Beyond the Broken Church, Cunningham attempts to reach the heart of those hurt by the church and encourage them in their healing journey.

Call me naïve.

I never imagined being hurt by the church.  When reading statistics about pastors who leave the ministry or people who leave the church, I knew I was the exception.  My love for Her unyielding, and without boundaries.  Maybe that is why healing has been so difficult.

Cunningham says, “That the people experiencing fierce emotion about the state of the church are the ones most invested in the church for the long run.” (Cunningham, 106)  I was naïve because as the author shares… “Everyone who is vested in the church, everyone who is serious about devoting his or her energies to advancing a local faith community, will at some point, to some extent, experience disillusionment.  It is not an if; it is a when.” (26)

The number of those hurt by the church is larger than we want to acknowledge.  In the book Church Refugees, Packard and Hope write the “story of what happens when an organization invests in training and discipling scores of people and yet does very little to retain them or reengage them when they leave.  (Packard and Hope, 11)  Cunningham writes that, “A multigenerational group of exhausted, depleted, and often jaded former church attendees can be seen wandering in the cloudy landscape just outside the church’s doors.” (Cunningham, 9)

Our inability to rehabilitate and restore those hurt by the church is fueling the megachurch movement.  Driven by a love for Jesus they force themselves through the doors, but hide among the throng of people desiring their tears during worship will not be noticed, and hoping to no longer hurt. 

Healing is a journey, and I believe Sarah’s book can help you take a step. David - Prof 2

(This is part of a series on spiritual abuse or as I call it – Post Traumatic Church Disorder.  Please share with those you know who have been hurt by the church.  If you have a church survival story, please let me know.)

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Managing Director of EA Resources, a non-profit designed to equip parents and churches to understand emerging adults.  If you would like to support our work and research, please go here.


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