Our church recently did a sermon series on spiritual warfare. In the series, we talked about the different tactics the enemy (Satan) uses against us in an effort to remove us from a life-giving God. One of the tactics I have seen recently among church people is discouragement. Many times, our enemy wants us to doubt that the work we are doing is making a difference or worth the effort.

With podcasts like “The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill” and news stories of pastors and church leaders abusing authority or making poor decisions, it’s easy to get frustrated and discouraged with the church. The term “church hurt” has surfaced during the last couple of years where people have bad experiences with the church and people associated with the church.

What do we do with all of these negative feelings toward church and church leadership?

A couple of things come to mind for me. We need to talk about the negative feelings, not as gossip, but with trusted people. Choose to talk with individuals who have good discernment regarding what is our responsibility and what is someone else’s responsibility.

We need wise people in our lives who are going to offer solutions and healing for the pain that we are experiencing.

Another suggestion is to be a part of the solution and not the problem.

The church is full of broken people who are in desperate need of a Savior. We have found the answer to what we need, but we are still in the process of growing and maturing. No person within the church has arrived; we are still developing and in need of God’s grace.

We must help each other in this growth process by being an example of humility and grace. If we take responsibility when we do wrong, we are demonstrating for others the self-awareness that we aren’t perfect and we don’t expect them to be either. But instead, we are correcting ourselves and pressing on to be more Christlike.

The Bible talks about encouraging each other and building each other up (see 1 Thessalonians 5:11). If we want to fight off the enemy’s attack of discouragement, we must be a body that encourages each other.

To develop this skill, find people with the gift of encouragement and spend time with them. Watch and listen to how encouraging people interact with others and adopt one or two of their habits into your life.

Writing texts or notes of encouragement, going out of your way to say a kind word or stopping to pray for someone when they express a need are small ways to incorporate encouragement into your relationships.

The church is full of broken people in need of healing. If we claim to be a part of God’s family, we must be in the business of helping the church grow and get healthier. We should all want to see healing and health within the church.

God’s church is the avenue for bringing Jesus to the world. It is easy to get discouraged with everything we see happen among church people, but we must take heart and hold on to the fact that God will use His church to show and share the love of Christ to a world that desperately needs it.

People make lousy saviors.

We need to make sure our hope is in Jesus and not the people who represent Jesus. Having said that, I still believe the church is God’s avenue for bringing Jesus to the world. In this belief, I want to be more and more a part of the solution and not a part of the problem.

Dave Spruell leads the Care Ministry at Southeast Christian Church.