Today is a day for reviewing the old and welcoming the new.
A piece of truly excellent news reached me recently from Dr. Barb Orlowski – her book on recovery from spiritual abuse has been printed and will be available soon!
Hip-hip-hooray and hallelujah! We’ve been waiting for this since 2008!
“Dr. Barb” conducted her Doctor of Ministry research project on people impacted by spiritual abuse. Specifically, her investigation focused on:
- Christians who have experienced emotional and spiritual distress under authoritarian and controlling church leaders and who have ceased to be associated with those congregations.
- Christians who subsequently have recognized and processed their spiritual grief and pain and have experienced spiritual recovery.
- Christians who are willing to share how they have processed their negative experience and have recovered spiritual harmony; those who can share what has happened since this painful episode.
(See Appendix 1 on her Church Exiters website for details on her research framework and the 20-question survey she created.)
I participated in this survey, and it took me an entire week to complete, as I had to answer many of the questions at least three times for different situations of toxic leaders and the church splits I’d endured. I found her research analysis very helpful, and I am certain her book will be also.
For information on purchasing regular or autographed copies of her book, Spiritual Abuse Recovery: Dynamic Research on Finding a Place of Wholeness, contact Dr. Barb at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some previous futuristguy posts that track Dr. Barb’s work-in-progress, and share what I learned along the way from her, and from participating in her survey process:
March 13, 2008. Recovery from Spiritual Abuse Part 1-Five Personal Lessons from My Surviving Toxic Leaders. What her research is about, how I got involved, and some key things I learned by participating. Re-reading these five lessons reconfirms how important it was for me to process the difficult church experiences I had, and to use these principles in any future church or ministry situations. (Check out the post – each lesson has a few paragraphs of description.)
Lesson #1. Do not enter or exit church relationships lightly.
Lesson #2. Listen to my gut intuitions, and consider them carefully.
Lesson #3. Do not protect toxic leaders/organizations/people or I am adding to their body count of traumatized victims.
Lesson #4. Steward my life experiences and giftings as well as possible, considering that I am a subject of Jesus Christ, not of church leaders.
Lesson #5. Healthy context, forward trajectory, and transformational hope are critical to sustaining my personal involvement in a church or ministry, so look for those before getting involved.
October 1, 2008. Barb Orlowski Gives “Oral Defense” on Doctoral Report, October 2nd.
November 30, 2008. Dr. Barb Orlowski’s Website Up and Running! Dr. Barb’s initial website posted her dissertation. Almost all of that has been removed as part of the book publication process, but the table of contents, some chapter summaries, and two appendices are still available on her revised website at Church Exiters-Ministering Restoration: Recovering Spiritual Harmony.
A final personal note: As one who has suffered spiritual abuse and who ministers to others who have, I am grateful for the original research work you conducted, Dr. Barb. Thanks for persevering through an unpleasant reality in the Church, for the sake of those like me who need restoration. You’ve made an immense contribution to the field of pastoral care and restorative spiritual formation!
Publisher: Wipf & Stock (January 1, 2010)
ISBN 10: 1-60608-967-6
ISBN 13: 978-1-60608-967-5
Author’s website: Church Exiters. Ministering Restoration: Recovering Spiritual Harmony. It financially benefits the author more if we buy copies direct from her: email@example.com, and as a writer myself, that is the route I’d recommend going. The very small percentage authors earn on royalties never covers the realities of hours of work invested on a project, especially one like this that involved so much research!
Publisher’s site: Wipf & Stock page for Spiritual Abuse Recovery.
Ordering page for Spiritual Abuse Recovery.
Description from the Publisher’s Website
Spiritual Abuse Recovery: Dynamic Research on Finding a Place of Wholeness
By Barbara M. Orlowski
What factors contribute to active Christians in ministry leaving their church and becoming exiting statistics? Every year dedicated Christian people leave churches because of spiritual abuse. The stories of people who left their home church because of a negative and hurtful experience paint a picture of a widespread occurrence which beckons consideration by church leaders and church congregants alike.
Spiritual abuse, the misuse of spiritual authority to maltreat followers in the Christian Church, is a complex issue. This book shows how people processed their grief after experiencing spiritual abuse in their local church and how they rediscovered spiritual harmony. Their spiritual journey shows how one may grow through this devastating experience.
This book offers a thoughtful look at the topic of spiritual recovery from clergy abuse through the eyes of those who have experienced it. It invites church leaders to consider this very real dysfunction in the Church today and aims to demonstrate a path forward to greater freedom in Christ after a season of disillusionment with church leadership.
“In an age of increasing calls for strong church leadership, this book is a gift to church leaders and those who have been severely hurt and abused in our churches. Through careful research and an insider’s perspective, Barb has opened up both pathways for healing from church abuse and insights for leadership to ensure that potential future abuse is stopped.” — Alan Jamieson, author of A Churchless Faith
“What we refer to as spiritual abuse was a concern for Jesus in his earthly ministry and it is a common problem today. It is, therefore, surprising that more attention is not given to it by today’s Christian community. Barb Orlowski, however, does take it seriously as she offers insight into the causes of bad church experiences and how to recover from them. Her counsel alerts people to the dangers of spiritual abuse, and if leaders hear her, they will be less likely to become part of the problem. … I encourage you to read it.” — Ken Blue, author of Healing Spiritual Abuse
“Dr. Orlowski’s research has provided a balance for various perspectives on the experience of woundedness. She listens to the voices of the wounded and lets them inform us of their reality of feeling disappointment and disenfranchisement, tragedy and turbulence in the Church. … For recovery, Dr. Orlowski gives an excellent starting point-the voice of the wounded-and follows that with the grace of God demonstrated through hearing the voice of God and basing recovery on the Word of God.” — Kirk E. Farnsworth, author of Wounded Workers