One of my first Barna research projects introduced me to trauma. No, that's not a joke. In 1997, emerging from the sheltered life of Christian college, I completed a study for Prison Fellowship on how—and if—churches help people who had been raped, robbed, or in other ways victimized.
It was an eye-opening experience. It taught me that for millions of people—and nearly all of us at some point—life is tainted by extraordinarily difficult and challenging circumstances. It reminded me in stark statistical terms that local church leaders have to minister, almost literally, at the bleeding edge of these realities. However, it was also surprising how few churches offered intentional support to people dealing with trauma.
Since then, our team has learned a lot on this topic. Here are four things we've found about people undergoing trauma and how the church is responding.
1. Trauma is broader than we imagine. We tend to think of trauma in terms of sudden, ...1