What Does a Trauma-Informed Church Look Like? Part 2

I started this series in a response to a question via email. As I said in part 1, I know the answer is complex . It’s not a one-size fits all answer. There are some aspects you can see in a trauma-informed church. There are some things you can feel. There are some words you will hear. There are also some practices that will be followed by all leadership in a trauma-informed church.

It starts with trauma-informed training

I’m one of those people who will chase you down the hall and tell church leaders that they need trauma-training. I’m also one of those people who get the door slammed in their face (metaphorically). Leaders for some reason don’t want to invest in training. They also don’t want to ask their staff and volunteers to go through training. I know. It’s a huge time commitment. It is. It’s also an investment.

The parable of The spilled milk

Let’s say you put an open gallon of milk on the table in your kitchen. You hope it won’t spill. You pray it won’t spill. You light a candle and pray it won’t spill. Then it spills. You sop up the mess and tell the child who knocked it over not to do that again, then you leave the gallon again. It gets spilled again. You tell the child again not to knock the milk. The child knocks it again. You tell the child again. What’s the real problem? The adult didn’t take responsibility to put the cap on and put it away.

I see the the same thing happen in churches, homes, schools, and homeschool co-ops. They pray the milk won’t be spilled. In other words, they hope and pray that kids who have had trauma or capital letter syndromes won’t have meltdowns. The kids do. The adults tell the kids to stop. There are behavior charts, stickers, lectures, and Bible verses hurled at them. They meltdown again. They can’t regulate. What needs to happen? The adults, leaders, and parents need to cap the milk by becoming trauma-informed. When leadership is trauma-informed and begin to lead with this in mind, the milk wont’ spill as often.

Start with the Five Bs

The Five B’s Affected by Trauma

  • Brain
  • Biology
  • Body
  • Beliefs
  • Behavior

Brain – Children from hard places have altered brain development and an overactive amygdala. It’s as if the child is being chased by a bear all the time.

Biology – Children from hard places have altered neurochemistry.

Body – This could include learning delays, developmental delays, and sensory issues (which may be mistaken for willfulness and defiance). The child may be frustrated and disconnected.

Beliefs -Abuse says, “You don’t matter.” Neglect says, “You don’t exist.”

Behavior – The child may have an altered ability to self-regulate in response to stressors.

“If a child has had trauma, it’s as though his brain has a bunch of loose wires that don’t connect. If I were back in computer programming, I could imagine that for every if-then statement, I would get an error message: ‘Does not compute.’”-

How to Have Peace When Your Kids Are in Chaos

Understanding the effects trauma has on child (or adult) is a start. Some of the church leaders who have emailed me want their churches to be trauma-informed to better serve the needs of the kiddos (and adults) in the body. Some of you are running into the same sorts of road blocks I do. Time. Money. Leaders don’t want to ask their volunteers to have to invest more time, to come out one more night a week, to watch videos, or host a conference. So the milk gets spilled again and again. And the children get reprimanded for being dysregulated because they CANNOT do what’s expected of them.

For those who want Trauma-informed churches, schools, and co-ops

If you want to start the conversation with your church leaders, teachers, or homeschool co-op, you can begin with the printable resource on How Trauma Affects Kids. Go start the conversation with some facts and go from there.

Want to continue the conversation? Hop on over to our podcast page and listen to the series on the Five Bs Affected by Trauma. These are coffee break podcasts, no longer than fifteen minutes each. Share them with the people who serve your kiddos.

If you’re interested in the free e-course- Five Things , click on the graphic below:

How should the church respond to the recent changes in abortion laws?

Social media is brimming with responses to New York’s recent update to the state’s abortion law:

New York’s abortion law was updated and strengthened Tuesday night when Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Reproductive Health Act into law that had just passed the Senate and Assembly.

The bill was first introduced in the Democratic-run Assembly in 2006 but had not been taken up by the Senate until the Democrats wrested control from Republicans this year.

The law for the first time allows abortions after the 24-week mark to protect the mother’s health or in cases where the fetus won’t survive.- New York Post

The biggest slap in the face to the signing of the law the while the crowd cheers and a “God Bless you” by Governor Andrew Cuomo. God bless who?

I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception…. I submit that human life is present throughout this entire sequence from conception to adulthood and that any inter.png

What should the church’s response be in light of this new law?

  1. Remind ourselves we live in a post-Christian nation. 

“Man no longer sees himself as a qualitatively different from non-man. The Christian consensus gave a basis for people being unique, as made in the image of God, but his has largely been thrown away…. All morals and law are seen as relative.”

There have been many blocks hacked out of our foundation that lead to us becoming a post-Christian nation:

On June 25, 1962, the United States Supreme Court decided in Engel v. Vitale that a prayer approved by the New York Board of Regents for use in schools violated the First Amendment because it represented establishment of religion. In 1963, in Abington School District v. Schempp, the court decided against Bible readings in public schools along the same lines.- cnsnews.com

The cover of Time magazine in 1966 asked – Is God Dead? followed by many conversations that led to some believing the question to be reality.

God is dead. God remains dead. – Nietzsche

In proclaiming God’s death, Nietzsche doesn’t mean to be taken literally. On his view, God never existed in the first place, so talk of his “death” is more about humanity than divinity. We humans, Nietzsche surmises, have found God’s existence both indefensible and undesirable. He therefore asserts rather than establishes the indefensibility of belief in God, even as he explains its undesirability.-thegospelcoalition.org

Roe vWade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), is a landmark decision issued in 1973 by the United States Supreme Court on the issue of the constitutionality of laws that criminalized or restricted access to abortions.

These are just a few of the changes to our government that began to strip away at the foundations of a Christian nation. We have since shifted to a secular nation with no moral absolutes.

“Modern man has no real boundary condition for what he should do; he is left only we what he can do. Moral “oughts” are only what is sociologically acceptable at the moment. In this setting will today’s unthinkable still be unthinkable in ten years?” – Francis Schaeffer

We must stop shouting our “moral oughts” as if our emotions regarding the moral decay of our nation will change it.

A new friend of mine told me she was tired of the church’s rhetoric and promises of “I’ll pray for you” while it remained inactive about the moral and social issues of the day.

2.  Respond to social/moral issues as the early church did (in the midst of a godless empire).

Before I answer the question, let me set the stage of the early church in the Roman Empire:

“According to the centuries old traditions of paterfamilias, the birth of a Roman was not a biological fact. Infants were received into the world only as the family willed. A Roman did not have a child; he took a child. Immediately after birthing, if the family decided not to raise the child – literally lifting him above the earth -he was simply abandoned. There were special high places or walls where the newborn was taken and exposed to die.”- George Grant via Third Time Around

Life was not valued in the Roman Empire. The arena viewed violence as entertainment. Gladiators fought to the death. Christians were mauled by lions in front of cheering crowds. Pedophilia was practiced. And the list goes on. And on this world stage, Christ lived, died and rose again. The early church began.

The disciples devoted themselves to prayer, waiting together.

They were filled with the Holy Spirit. They devoted themselves to instruction and fellowship. They organized themselves, and met needs, spiritually, financially and physically.

During this time, as the disciples were increasing in numbers by leaps and bounds, hard feelings developed among the Greek-speaking believers—“Hellenists”—toward the Hebrew-speaking believers because their widows were being discriminated against in the daily food lines. So the Twelve called a meeting of the disciples. They said, “It wouldn’t be right for us to abandon our responsibilities for preaching and teaching the Word of God to help with the care of the poor. So, friends, choose seven men from among you whom everyone trusts, men full of the Holy Spirit and good sense, and we’ll assign them this task. Meanwhile, we’ll stick to our assigned tasks of prayer and speaking God’s Word.” Acts 6: 1-3

 

Unfortunately, we have left the social gospel behind and spend our time shouting “moral oughts” and have let the government take over the feeding of the poor, the caring for the widow and the orphan. And yet…we want a secular nation to handle our responsibilities with the morals and values of our Christianity. Not going to happen. We shouldn’t be shocked when we get godless solutions to humanity’s problems from the government.

 

“Because of its messiah complex, today the government preempt the work of the church and tries to meet the problems of poverty by government-subsidized programs.” –What if Jesus Had Never Been Born

We, the church have let our responsibility slip through our hands so carelessly, yet we find ourselves in an abysmal atrocity that we ourselves let happen. We even ask the government to provide these things and when they do, we cringe out how it is played out- government subsidized abortions for one. Foster care is another (I won’t go there in this article).

The government has tried to carry out by force the Christian ideal of helping the poor, caring for the widow and orphan, deciding who has value and who doesn’t. The unborn is not given “value”. The value of the child is often what his value is politically.

If we want to change the climate of the nation, we must pray first, wait for His leading and act. When we act, we become the loving hands of Jesus. We cannot change things because of our own effort, but when we follow the roadmap of the early church by the directives of the Holy Spirit we can bring help and healing.

3. Get ready for the fallout.

We’ve already seen fallout on social media- women mourning the loss of a child and outraged at laws and policies that allow other women to take a life. It’s unfathomable. We have all shed so many tears this week. Emotions are all over the place. Women who have had abortions are sharing their regrets, shame and heartache for the choice they made. There’s going to more of that. We’ve opened the floodgates and we need to be ready for the fallout.

Find an honest women who has undergone an abortion and she will tell you the truth. She is damaged physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Her health has been damaged.
“Women who have abortions are 81 percent more likely to experience subsequent mental health problems, according to a new study published by Britian’s Royal College of Psychiatrics. The greatest increases were seen in relation to suicidal behaviors and substance abuse.”- Afterabortion.org
The church should be equipped to minister to these women after the fact. That’s a hard pill to swallow. These women are already out there. They exist. They need our help. Who else will they go to? What about the women who refused an abortion and followed through with the birth? Are we pro-life if we don’t support her? Make provisions for her and her child? Or are we just pro-birth?
This is some heavy stuff. As a church we have realize our predicament, we are living in a post-Christian nation. With that in mind, we need to get back to the practice of the early church who ministered the Gospel and followed up with provision to meet the needs of those affected by the current culture. It was the early Christians who opened the first orphanages, made a provision in the church funds to care for the widow and fed the poor. The early church preached the value of life.
“The church has made more changes on earth for the good than any other movement of force in history.”- What if Jesus had never Been Born
Let’s pray, humble ourselves and celebrate they tiny moral victories in a secular world such as this one:

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed one of the country’s most restrictive abortion bills into law on Friday.

The so-called “heartbeat” legislation bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat has been detected, at about six weeks of pregnancy. -npr.org

 

Let’s gear up, army of God, to fight the good fight on faith on our knees and abandon our personal peace (the desire to be left alone to do our own thing) for action based living.

I know that many of you reading this article are already doing the work suggested, you are praying, fasting, serving, sharing your stories for the benefit of others. You are not only sharing, but acting. I applaud you! I thank you.

Let me leave you with this word:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.  Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

 II Corinthians 1: 3-7

Three Things The Church Needs to do to Prepare for the Lost Coming Home Part 3

*You can find the first in the series here.

A few weeks ago in church, a prophecy was given about an influx of people coming in from “the hollows” (this is WV, people). We were instructed to “get ready” multiple times. When I left the service, the phrase was echoing in my head, get ready, get ready, get ready. Why aren’t we ready? More importantly, why don’t we stay ready? Or why do people come and check out church and promptly turn away.

These are some hefty, thought provoking questions that I don’t know all the answers to. After some thought, prayer and conversations with God and whoever else would listen, I came up with three simple things we regular folk could do. Here’s the third:

  1. Lower your expectations and put the bar higher for grace and mercy.

When newbies come into the church, we often expect them to grow up too soon. They come into the church without a foundation, needing the milk of the Word and we want to feed them steak. It’s a new culture out there. Many people grow up never hearing all the basic Bible stories. Hubby is the restaurant business and many of his employees are college age. In simple, everyday conversations, sometimes basic Bible stories come up: David and Goliath, Daniel and the Lions Den, Sampson, Noah and Moses are often foreign to them.

During my growing up years (totally dating myself here), Bible stories were common knowledge, not only did we hear them at church, we heard them at home and school (especially if you went to Catholic school like I did). Bible stories were woven into the fabric of my childhood. Not true anymore.

Most kids are being raised in homes where church is not a priority..png

Most kids are being raised in homes where church is not a priority. Sad, but true. The Supreme Court banned prayer in public school in 1962, which means several generations have grown up without this important building block of faith. So, if kids aren’t getting schooled in a faith at home or school, they grow up Biblically illiterate. That doesn’t make them stupid, or any less important in the eyes of God. They are just as important, loved and cherished. It simply means they don’t speak Christianese. They may not know the church’s doctrine or have the same theology. What do we do with this information? We let the Holy Spirit do the work. We don’t apply hefty burdens on converts. We answer questions as best we can. Most important of all, we pour out the mercy that we receive when we came to Christ with a healthy helping of grace. All of us must remember where we came from.

This righteousness of God comes through faith in Jesus Christ for all those [Jew or Gentile] who believe [and trust in Him and acknowledge Him as God’s Son]. There is no distinction, 23 since all have sinned and continually fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are being justified [declared free of the guilt of sin, made acceptable to God, and granted eternal life] as a gift by His [precious, undeserved] [c]grace, through the redemption [the payment for our sin] which is [provided] in Christ Jesus,- Romans 3:22-24