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Church Hurts

Church Hurts

By Joshua McLemore
People hurt us. It happens—like all the time. But we often don’t expect it to happen in the church..but it does—like all the time. How do we move on and heal from Church Hurt and still love the church? Join Josh as he discusses this idea with his guests as they share their own stories of hurt and healing.
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Currently playing episode

When You Realize Your "Church" is a Cult - Elizabeth Halford

Church Hurts

When You Realize Your "Church" is a Cult - Elizabeth Halford

Church Hurts

Are We More American Than Christian? - Drew Anderson
Join Josh and his first repeat guest Drew Anderson as they talk about Drew's new book "No Longer Self-Evident: Are We More American Than Christian?"  Is it possible that the church has been co-opted by American values over Kingdom values?  What kind of damage has that done and what kind of damage can it do? Buy Drew's book here
September 11, 2020
Two Reasons Your Church Job Might End Poorly - Mark Oestreicher
So many of us have found ourselves in situations where we are either fired or leave our churches.  What is the reason that this is so common in church work.  Could there be some way to avoid being blindsided with a church job going south?  Join Josh and his guest Marko as they discuss some practical ways that negative church work experiences might be avoided even from the interview process.   Mark Oestreicher has been involved in church ministry his whole life, particularly with teenagers and youth workers. Marko has had a broad experience working in churches in roles ranging from Junior High Pastor to Executive Pastor. For 11 years, Marko was at Youth Specialties in San Diego, an organization that trains and equips church youth workers – the last 8 of those years as president. Concurrently, Marko was also a part of the leadership team of Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI). Marko has authored or contributed to more than 70 books, including the much-talked-about Youth Ministry 3.0. Marko is a partner in The Youth Cartel, providing resources, training and coaching for church youth workers.
July 24, 2020
Naming Spiritual Abuse - KJ Ramsey
It is so important to name things what they are.  Very often we are slow to call spiritual abuse by its' name.  Join Josh and his guest KJ Ramsey for a discussion on how to recognize spiritual abuse and for some examples of things that you may not think of as abuse that are. K.J. Ramsey (BA, Covenant College, MA, Denver Seminary) is a licensed professional counselor, writer, and recovering idealist who believes sorrow and joy coexist. She is the author of This Too Shall Last: Finding Grace When Suffering Lingers, and her writing has been published in Christianity Today, RELEVANT, The Huffington Post, Fathom Magazine, Health Central, and more on the integration of theology, psychology, and spiritual formation. She and her husband live in Denver, Colorado. Follow K.J.'s writing at and across social media at @kjramseywrites.
July 17, 2020
You Don't Know What You Don't Know - Michael Otto
Hired as a young youth pastor, Mike Otto quickly found himself wondering what he was doing.  His mentor was gone and the attitude of a less experienced church worker collided with expectations he was not aware of.  His story is pretty common in church work.  What did he learn through this? What would he have done differently?  Join us this week for this conversation on being a young church worker.
June 26, 2020
Creating Space for Doubt - Ryan Schaible
What if you woke up one morning doubting everything?  Would your church allow that?  Can you even serve when you are having doubts?  This week Join Josh and guest Ryan Schaible as they talk about what it looks like to experience doubt while working in a church and how churches can help and minister to a staffer who is experiencing a reconstruction of faith.
June 12, 2020
Racism and the Church: Now That We See It What Will We Do? - Ade Oni
The nation is reeling from the killings of black and brown faces that we see all too often.  Our country has unearthed a long abandoned conversation around our original sin of racism.  What can the church say and why hasn't it said it already?  Join us this week as Josh and his guest Ade Oni talk about what it's like to be a black man in ministry and how the church can respond to the hurt of the black community in America.
June 05, 2020
When You Realize Your "Church" is a Cult - Elizabeth Halford
As our guest this week said: are you ready for "the most culty sh*t you've ever heard"?  This week we talk about what happens when your church is a little less church and a little more cult.  Elizabeth Halford also talks about what it's like to leave a church situation like that and what its like to see some of those same bad practices enter your own ministry.
May 29, 2020
Love, Respect, and Sex (What the Church Gets Wrong) - Sheila Gregoire
Sheila Gregoire has a lot to say about the book "Love and Respect".  Is it possible that the thoughts in the book can be used to hold people in abusive or unhealthy relationships?  Sheila thinks so.  After hearing from thousands of women who shared stories of this kind of hurt, she took her concerns to a group that supported the book only to face backlash from them publicly.  Join Josh and his guest as they unpack the kinds of hurt the Church has caused over the issue of marriage and sex and how we can fight against that to a healthier version of both of these things. Sheilas original article on Love & respect & sex: Here's the open letter to focus on the family:
May 22, 2020
When God Calls and Your Church Doesn't Listen - Jennifer Dawn Watts
When Jennifer felt called to plant a church she could not have known the way her existing faith community would treat that call.  How do you move forward in your call when your church is holding you back?  Is there room for questioning the status quo?  Join Josh and his guest Jennifer Dawn Watts as they discuss these ideas and many others in this weeks episode of Church Hurts.
May 15, 2020
How Do We Minister to People Even As They Walk Away? - Heather Thompson Day
Gen Z is leaving the Church in droves.  But what are their reasons for doing so?  How can we minister to people even as they walk away from the Church.  In what ways can we still be a blessing and a source of hope and love.  Join Josh and his guest Heather Thompson day as they discuss the things she is hearing from her students in her university classroom and the future of the Church post Covid-19.
April 24, 2020
Is the Church Failing the Loneliest Generation - Dr. Josh Packard
Gen Z is the loneliest generation.  The most connected but the most lonely.  Springtide Research Institute found that church attendance barely moves the needle on this number.  But there is a way the church can help this generation better.  Join Josh and his guest Dr. Josh Packard as they discuss ways the church is failing Gen Z and how we can do better. You can find Springtide Research Institute and order their book Belonging at
April 17, 2020
When The Church Holds You Back - Katie Ruth
Join Josh and his guest Katie Ruth for a frank discussion of what it's like to realize your church may not be the healthiest or even the safest space.  How do you find your way out of a church that you need to leave for your safety and sanity?  Once you do that, how do you stay connected to the Church outside of the one you grew up wounded in?
April 10, 2020
Do We Have To Pick Between Intellect or Faith? - Dr. Karen Swallow Prior
Join Josh and his guest Dr. Karen Swallow Prior as they talk about having to choose between a life of the mind and a life of faith.  Is it possible to have both or do we have to pick one?
April 03, 2020
When Church Attendance Causes Anxiety - Hannah Keefer
Join Josh for a great conversation with a new friend about what happens when you get anxiety about not being at church. What happens when you love God and have faith but still find it hard to enter a church building because of things the church told you growing up
March 27, 2020
When the Church Says No But God Says Yes - Heather Lea Kenison
Growing up in the Southern Baptist Church Heather knew she was called to ministry.  But what happens when your call and your church don't line up?  Join Josh and his guest Heather Lea Kenison as they discuss some of the trials she faced as well as the stories of women she has worked with in her organization Women in Youth Ministry.
March 20, 2020
The Church Is Handling Mental Health Wrong - Steve Austin
Join Josh and his guest Steve Austin as they discuss Steve's battles with mental health and depression that culminated in Steve's attempted suicide.  We talk about why he felt like he couldn't be honest about his mental health in the church and how he thinks we can handle mental health better.   Steve Austin is a writer, coach, podcaster, and former pastor whose work has been featured in USA Today, Huffington Post, Relevant, and other outlets. Austin nearly died by suicide after secretly suffering from depression, anxiety, and PTSD, and he has become a leading voice at the intersection of faith and mental health. Austin resides in Birmingham, Alabama, with his wife and two kids, and he loves all things peanut butter and chocolate. If you want to help out the Know Your Worth Collaborative head over to
March 13, 2020
The Youth Pastor as the Church's Mistress - TJ McConahay
What happens when the church expects everything from you but gives you no responsibility to make things happen.  This is the plight of many a youth minister.  Join Josh and his guest TJ McConahay as they discuss this along with TJ's own story of hurt in this week's Church Hurts Podcast!
March 06, 2020
When the Church Goes After Your Spouse - Keith Parker
After 16.5 years as the youth pastor at the same church, Keith thought he would stay forever, but God had other plans.  Join Josh and his guest Keith Parker as they discuss the hurt caused not only to him but to his spouse.
February 28, 2020
Wounds Caused From A Culture of Fear - Blaine Christenson
What is it like working and ministering in a culture of fear? How do we deal with the all too common way that staff are exited out quickly and quietly.  The church can do better in the way that they treat and care for their staff members.  There is pressure to grieve quickly and move on, but everyone’s grieving process is different.  Join Josh and his guest Blaine Christenson as they talk about these things and more in this episode of the Church Hurts podcast!  Find Blaine HERE
February 21, 2020
When Spiritual Hurt Causes Physical Harm - Greg Gross
Join Josh as he interviews Greg Gross - a self proclaimed "missional entrepreneur"  - as they discuss his stories of church hurt and how they affected him physically, mentally, and spiritually.  How can a healthy church turn Church Hurt into a healthy life for those of us who have been wounded?
February 14, 2020
Patriarchy, Sexism, and Operating Like We Are Still In The Fall - April Diaz
This week April Diaz joins Josh to discuss her observations of patriarchy and sexism in the Church.  This is a great conversation about how churches, if not checked, can harm women sometimes without even trying.  They also spend time talking about what it looks like when the Church purposefully uses "inclusivity" to point to how it is blameless on the patriarchy/sexism front. Check out April at and follow her on Twitter @aprildiaz
February 07, 2020
Churches Don't Know What to do With Single People - Andy Unger
Are you single in the church and are tired of hearing about "finding your other half" or "when are you going to settle down"?  This week's guest understands how you feel.  Join Josh and Andy for a discussion on the way churches handle (or don't) their ministry to single people.
January 22, 2020
When the Church Lies to Women In Ministry - Tash McGill
What happens when the church deceives someone in ministry by not being up front about its actual views.  Specifically, what kind of hurt is it causing women who want to serve in ministry when it isn't honest about its theological viewpoint on the issue.   Join us this week as Tash McGill of tells her story of this hurt.
January 17, 2020
When Leadership Abandons its Responsibility - Drew Anderson
In this episode Josh speaks to Drew about being a young youth pastor and navigating the church hurt of a lack of support when the going gets tough. You can find Drew at
January 10, 2020
January 9, 2020
January 09, 2020