A Review of “When Home Hurts” by Pierre and Wilson

Abuse is a hot topic right now in publishing and in the national conversation. But this is not just some trend, it is a corrective to our national neglect, misunderstanding, and general dismissal of the issue for far too long. Jeremy Pierre and Greg Wilson have added to the conversation with perhaps the most important tool for church leadership. When Home Hurts is the practical guide that every pastor needs to read.

The book is broken down into three parts. Part one seeks to help readers properly understand abuse. The author’s frame their definition of the subject in light of Scriptural foundations regarding man’s creation (the Imago Dei), and his purpose (the Greatest Commandments). They understand the dynamics of power and control as they relate to abuse and show a thorough awareness of the current literature. In addition, Pierre and Wilson respond to some common concerns among Christians about listening to accusations of abuse, and help readers understand common dynamics of abusive situations and their impact on victims. It is a common problem that pastors, lacking awareness of abuse and its impact, tend to disbelieve victims or reframe abuse as simply marital problems. Section one of this book is so foundational that it should be required reading for all pastors.

Section two turns attention to responding to abuse. The three chapters that make up this section address the victim and the abuser respectively, along with the “collateral damage” that abuse causes. The sensitivity that Pierre and Wilson demonstrate in these chapters is so encouraging. They maintain the priority of safety for victims throughout and caution over-zealous and passive responses on the part of leadership. This section of the book is somewhat unique in the modern literature in that they offer focused and specific guidance to church leaders on how to respond. They rightly identify the role of church leaders and encourage them to utilize other professionals in their care and intervention.

Finally, section three focuses on long-term care. This section helps church leaders know how to evaluate healing and repentance. Far too often church leaders have a shallow view of repentance and settle for apologies and empty promises. When Home Hurts, however, gives us a robust theology of repentance and provides church leaders with better metrics for evaluating change. The book concludes, then, with a guide to creating a culture of care and awareness within the church. For the church to be the safest place for victims of abuse means that we need to shift the culture of most churches in America. Pierre and Wilson offer and introductory guide to that too.

Here is a thorough introduction to a complex subject. Pierre and Wilson offer the church a foundational guide. This is a work we desperately needed in the Evangelical Church and in the modern age it should be required reading for all pastors. The chapters are short, accessible, and focused. The practical tools it provides are invaluable. Some in the broader Biblical Counseling community will wrestle with this text and perhaps be troubled by some of its content. It does not mesh with every Biblical Counseling organization’s definition of abuse or approach, but Pierre and Wilson have grounded their work in Scripture. They have presented us with not just a practical guide and a useful framework, not just a resource that is informed by current best practices, but they have offered us a more comprehensively Biblical approach at the same time. I cannot recommend this book enough!

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