I swore I would never go back.

I was the statistic. That numeric value attributed to the growing segment of Christians who lost hope in the church and were abandoning it all together.

I never intended to be the statistic but that’s where I ended up. Within one month I left the church and my job (where I worked with churches heavily) and didn’t look back. I was on a new road, one I thought was better but that I later learned was one that only fueled my hurt and unforgiveness toward the church and ultimately led me to feel the worse of all emotions…. Nothing.

My heart was callused and unable to warn me of being callused.

But God didn’t give up on me.

One evening he clearly said, “Brandon, I’m not asking you to fix my church.”

To which I responded, (frustrated, unfortunately, I must say), “Well if you fixed all these things your church would be beautiful.”

Pretty arrogant…I know.

But God simply replied, “Brandon, my church is already beautiful.”

Those words stuck with me and became the catalyst for my returning to the church.

Those ten words set me free, without my even knowing it. They reminded me that if God wanted me to fix something in the church then he would give me the necessary influence and resources to fix it… But if those were not there, then I didn’t need to give them my attention, frustration, and effort.

Instead, I needed to place my effort in something much more important—learning to walk with, and remember, my Father.

That seems like such a trivial and small solution to a massive complex sea of emotions. But, at least in my life, I found this to be the most impactful and necessary step in being able to find beauty and hope in the church again.

To simply see her through my Father’s eyes, and then realize that’s how he sees me—through eyes of love, grace, mercy and forgiveness. And, if he can see me in all my ugliness that way, then, if I trust him, he will teach me how to see his church through those same eyes. The eyes of love and forgiveness that don’t see brokenness as a concrete state but as something that has been redeemed and shows his great mercy.

The “I Forgive Church” Video

So that’s where the heart of this video I leave you with comes from. It’s a summarized version of my journey from hating the church to ultimately rediscovering the hope I lost and forgiving the church.

An then returning with new hope.

I think all of us either know someone who has been hurt by the church or left altogether. That person might even be you. If so, I hope this video shows you there is hope, even when all you see is brokenness, if you are willing to walk with our Father and see his church from a different perspective.

I HATE CHURCH? from Brandon Gross on Vimeo.