When Thoughts and Prayers Aren't Enough: A Shooting Survivor's Journey into the Realities of Gun Violence, By Taylor S. Schumann

When Thoughts and Prayers Aren't Enough

A Shooting Survivor's Journey into the Realities of Gun Violence

by Taylor S. Schumann

When Thoughts and Prayers Aren't Enough
  • Length: 248 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.5 in
  • Published: July 20, 2021
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 3170
  • ISBN: 9780830831708

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Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award Finalist

ECPA Top Shelf Award Winner

Taylor Schumann never thought she'd be a victim of gun violence. But one spring day a man with a shotgun walked into her workplace and opened fire on her. While she survived, she was left with permanent wounds, both visible and invisible.

In When Thoughts and Prayers Aren't Enough, Taylor invites us to see what it means to be a survivor after the news vehicles drive away and the media moves on. Healing is slow and complicated. As she suffered through surgeries, grueling rehabilitation, and counseling to repair the physical injuries and emotional trauma, she came face to face with the deep and lasting impact of gun violence. As she began grappling with the realities, Taylor experienced another painful truth: Christians have largely been absent from this issue. Gun violence undercuts God's vision of abundant life and community—and the silence of the church rings loudly in the ears of survivors and families of victims.

Taylor weaves her own incredible story of survival and recovery into a larger conversation about gun violence in our country. With compassion and honesty, she encourages readers to reconsider their own engagement with the issue and to join her in envisioning a more hopeful, safer future for our nation. Move beyond thoughts and prayers and enter into grace-filled dialogue and action.

"One cannot keep the grim reality of gun violence at arm's length after reading this book. Taylor brings it close. She writes about trauma with honesty and compassion. Regardless of one's political views or personal stance on gun ownership, Taylor's research provides a practical and compelling case for gun reform. This book is for any Christian concerned with our biblical call toward neighbor love."

Rachel Joy Welcher, author of Talking Back to Purity Culture: Rediscovering Faithful Christian Sexuality

"On my thirty-fifth birthday I witnessed the close-range shooting of a police officer by a felon. My story is not the same as Taylor's, not as tragic for me nor as potent to tell, but it became a story that changed my life in more ways than I can count. In the months and years after my experience, I wanted to find comfort and solace in the church, and I couldn't. Most church folks I knew had only thoughts and prayers for survivors but no plans, personally or politically, to reconsider any Second Amendment reform. I needed allies like Taylor, who understands what only victims of gun violence understand: something must change."

Lore Ferguson Wilbert, author of Handle with Care: How Jesus Redeems the Power of Touch in Life and Ministry

"It's hard to think of a more polarizing topic than gun control, but When Thoughts and Prayers Aren't Enough reminds us that before we talk policy, we need to listen to people's stories. As a shooting survivor, Taylor Schumann invites us into her story before inviting us to consider broader policy issues and the responsibility of Christians to address the well-being of our neighbors. The result is a poignant and clarifying book that will help facilitate a much-needed conversation."

Kristin Kobes Du Mez, author of Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation

"When Thoughts and Prayers Aren't Enough is an urgent, thoughtful, and painful book. It hurts to see the realities of gun violence laid bare before us. And yet Schumann, by looking at both the personal and systemic impacts of gun violence, does what seems impossible. She models for us the prophetic work of allowing suffering and statistics to change our hearts and minds toward real action regarding gun violence in the United States. I wish this book wasn't so achingly necessary, but since it is, I will be encouraging everyone to read it. May our prayers for peace be turned into real laws that protect the most vulnerable among us."

D. L. Mayfield, activist and author of The Myth of the American Dream: Reflections on Affluence, Autonomy, Safety, and Power

"There are two things that are abundantly clear in When Thoughts and Prayers Aren't Enough. The first is that there are few things more important than the power of one's story, and the second is that we should all care about gun violence and the havoc it wreaks on its victims. Not only does Taylor Schumann humbly ask us to consider the impact of gun control legislation through well-researched, thorough, and illuminating information; she does so by first inviting us on her honest and raw journey of trauma, faith, and survival."

Kat Armas, host of The Protagonistas podcast and author of Abuelita Faith: What Women on the Margins Teach Us about Wisdom, Persistence, and Strength

"Compulsively readable, When Thoughts and Prayers Aren't Enough presents a practical guide to changing our minds about guns. The view into the continued difficulty of Schumann's life as a gun violence survivor gives readers reasons and permission to reexamine our views on guns. She has laid out hopeful, doable action that can follow our collective knee-jerk instinct to give thoughts and prayers. As Schumann suggests, prayer can actually be the beginning of our work and not the end."

Hayley Morgan, author of Preach to Yourself

"I don't say this lightly: this is a book that will change minds. Taylor's personal story is heartbreaking and compelling, but it is her passion for justice, her well-researched arguments, and her empathy for different perspectives that make this book so powerful. I am confident that When Thoughts and Prayers Aren't Enough will inspire many people, but I am even more confident that it will guide and inform real conversations that we desperately need to have in our families, churches, and communities."

Kaitlyn Schiess, author of The Liturgy of Politics

"This book is a rallying cry for a culture that has simply not cared enough to tackle the problem of gun violence. Taylor Schumann invites us into her pain, then guides us toward thoughtful consideration and practical, long-haul action. Vulnerably told, packed with both data and empathy, our list of excuses ends within these pages."

Shannan Martin, author of The Ministry of Ordinary Places and Falling Free

"By sharing the gritty reality of her own journey, Taylor Schumann offers us all a complex understanding of gun violence that we simply can't get from the latest headlines. Even when thoughts and prayers are given with the best of intentions, Taylor shows us that what survivors need isn't sympathy offered from a distance but connection from a place of curiosity and care."

Sarah Stewart Holland, cohost of Pantsuit Politics and coauthor of I Think You're Wrong (But I'm Listening): A Guide to Grace-Filled Political Conversations

"In When Thoughts and Prayers Aren't Enough, Taylor Schumann tells a story and makes an argument. With wisdom and heart, Taylor not only unpacks the scourge of gun violence in America but provides a model for Christians who ought to be moved by experience and compassion into the public square to advocate for the common good."

Michael Wear, founder of Public Square Strategies and author of Reclaiming Hope: Lessons Learned in the Obama White House About the Future of Faith in America

"What America's gun debate needs is credibility, and Taylor Schumann brings it in spades. She's both a survivor of gun violence and a writer who can strip the bitter partisanship from the issue. Schumann makes it clear: the vast majority of Americans want simple, achievable reforms that will prevent tens of thousands of Americans from needlessly dying each year. Her book is a testament to the chance for change, giving hope to survivors and all the rest of us who desperately want the violence to end."

Seth Moulton, congressman from Massachusetts

"I live in a state that has more mass shootings per capita than almost anywhere in the United States. The day before I finished reading Schumann's book, there was a mass shooting just thirty-five minutes from my home. When Thoughts and Prayers Aren't Enough is the honest conversation and tear-stained lament our nation desperately needs. Through haunting and hopeful storytelling, Schumann gives a human face to the casualties of gun violence. By combining compelling research and reflection, Schumann lights a way forward through the darkness of American individualism."

K.J. Ramsey, licensed professional counselor and author of This Too Shall Last: Finding Grace When Suffering Lingers

"More than thirty-six thousand people are dying each year from gun violence. Taylor Schumann shows grace, passion, and leadership in When Thoughts and Prayers Aren't Enough. Some of us lead because we want to; Taylor has decided to lead because she has too. This book is a must-read for my college students who have grown up in the era of school shootings, but it is relevant to every Christian looking to love their neighbor and seek justice."

Heather Thompson Day, author of It's Not Your Turn

"When Thoughts and Prayers Aren't Enough should be required reading for anyone desiring to fulfill Jesus' command to love our neighbor. When the American church is complicit in propagating the carnage resulting from gun violence, we must find a better way forward. Schumann's personal narrative as both a victim and survivor of gun violence lends credence to her impassioned plea to engage with the often-divisive topic of gun control and to our spiritual imperative to value commandments more than amendments. While statistics may seem abstract, her story of survival is visceral and absorbing. When victims' experiences are discounted, the facts are sobering. Schuman expertly offers us both while challenging us to contend with the cost of our 'rights' and the love of our neighbor."

Alia Joy, author of Glorious Weakness: Discovering God in All We Lack

"A powerfully personal story of gun violence and the process of healing. Grounded in faith, Taylor makes a clear case for common-sense gun safety laws. I can't wait to share her book with others who are willing to engage in the tough but critical conversations needed to ensure we reduce gun violence in our country."

Amy O'Rourke, wife of former congressman Beto O'Rourke

"One of my greatest passions is coaching women to use what they've got for the good of others + the glory of God. A lot of what we have to use is our story, and unfortunately it's not usually our easy stories that make the most impact. I wish my friend Taylor didn't have this story; I wish no one had her story. But Taylor's bravery, wisdom, insight, and compassion are just some of the components that make her an incredible leader, and make this a book not to miss out on. It's the book I wish we didn't have to read but the one we need. Thank you, God, for my friend who is using what she's got for the good of others + the glory of God."

Jess Connolly, author of You Are the Girl for the Job and Breaking Free from Body Shame

"I'm hard pressed to think of a timelier or more important book for this moment in American history than Taylor Schumann's When Thoughts and Prayers Aren't Enough. Taylor generously offers us an inside look at her searingly raw experiences as a gunshot survivor, which she then masterfully threads into a practical and fact-driven conversation about the challenges and realities of the gun violence crisis today. Schumann's story is captivating, her writing style is engaging, and her insights showcase a depth of unique expertise that only a survivor can bring. Readers will come away not only with facts and figures but with a wealth of practical applications, calling each of us to do our part in addressing the gun violence epidemic."

Stephanie Tait, author of The View from Rock Bottom

"In this gripping debut, Schumann fuses conviction and experience in a passionate testimony for stricter regulation of guns in America. . . . Schumann’s powerful, grounded critique and heartfelt lament lays bare the uniquely American scourge of gun violence."

Publishers Weekly Review, May 2021

Read an Excerpt

Read a conversation with Taylor Schumann on gun violence and advocacy.



Part I: A Survivor's Journey
1. Surviving
2. Even If Not
3. Grieving the Should Have Beens
4. A New Normal
5. Life Sentence
6. Stones to Bread
7. A Heart for Justice

Part II: Our Societal Challenge
8. Domestic Violence, Family Fire, and Firearm Suicide
9. School and Mass Shootings
10. The Costs of Gun Violence in Our Communities
11. Common Arguments Against Gun Reform
12. So You Want to Talk About Gun Violence
13. Beyond Thoughts and Prayers

Discussion Guide
Resource Index


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Taylor S. Schumann

Taylor S. Schumann is a survivor of the April 2013 shooting at a college in Christiansburg, Virginia. She is a writer and activist whose writing has appeared in Christianity Today, Sojourners, and Fathom. She is a contributor to If I Don't Make It, I Love You: Survivors in the Aftermath of School Shootings. Taylor and her family live in Charleston, South Carolina.