One of the other speakers at the conference last week, and a friend and fellow radio personality, Doug Bursch, spoke on ministering to the sinned against. It was a powerful topic where he put words to struggles I’d watched played out at many other churches over the years but couldn’t put my finger on or verbalize. Since the session wasn’t recorded, I’m going to do my best to share from the notes he provided.

His admonishment for the church today was to remember to preach both sides of the cross.

Not just the fact that Jesus died for our sins, and identified with our sins on the cross, but that he died for the sins done against us…He identified especially with those who’ve been sinned against … betrayed … abused … rejected … defiled.

If all we do is preach about the fact that we are sinners and our sin is what put Jesus on the cross, without declaring the wrong that has been done to so many, the violation of innocence, the intimidation, bullying and shaming into silence to hide the evil perpetrated on children, then we are heaping more shame on those who are already loaded down with false guilt.

So often the church becomes a place the sinned against ends up avoiding, because they are misunderstood, or expected to be all better after someone prays for them.



verb (used with object), dissociated, dissociating. sever the association of (oneself); separate:

He tried to dissociate himself from the bigotry in his past.

One of the gifts God gives is dissociation. It seems to be how he enables the sinned against to survive, by separating from a traumatic abuse, detaching from it, almost as if it is happening to someone else, which is a very natural, normal response to trauma.

If a survivor has yet to begin the healing process, they are separated from that abuse, and often times (as I wrote about in my series on PTSD) don’t even consciously remember what happened. It has been unknowingly stuffed away in an attempt to avoid the emotional pain and inability to make sense of why it occurred in the first place.


Healthy ministry will initiate changes in dissociative behavior for the good. Once that healing begins, the separate identities within a person begin to be integrated; the pain faced and worked through, then the ability to be fully integrated becomes a reality.

Healthy churches will be willing to make room for the process of healing and personality integration, and recognize the difference between a Satanic attack and a healthy breakthrough.

He shared the story of his mother’s healing journey as a leader in his church and the behavior that was totally unlike her, disruptive, sometimes bizarre and utterly embarrassing to him and how the church loved her through it all and into wholeness.

It reminded me of a situation that occurred at our church when someone in leadership went through an emotional and mental meltdown as flashbacks of her abuse began to surface. Those around her loved her, supported her, and walked with her for a very long time while the Lord enabled her to integrate and become a whole person.

A healthy church will value and respect an abused person’s path towards wholeness and healing.

So what’s been your experience?

Have you seen the sinned against marginalized, minimized, or shamed into silence by well-meaning Christians?

What are some ways to facilitate a healthy church environment that respects the needs of the abused?

Join me again next week for more on this topic…

This blog was recently moved over from a different platform and all the comments were lost in the transition. Please feel free to comment or start up a new conversation as the Lord leads. I’d love to continue the conversation!

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