Travellers of the Heart

Exploring new pathways on our spiritual journey

Michael Mitton

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The blend of Michael's own journey and story woven with the different streams of spirituality makes for a lovely gentle way of opening up the gifts of the tradition. His posture of openness and generosity is one I aspire to and I particularly like the way the book concludes in the coastlands of mission which seems to me to be the most natural way to unite.
Jonny Baker, pioneer mission leadership team, CMS


In this book one of the UK's leading authors on Christian spirituality and personal renewal shares his own faith journey, in the context of exploring some of the different spiritual traditions that have influenced Christian witness over the past 40 or so years.

Building on themes in his previous book, Dreaming of Home, Michael Mitton explores how encompassing something of the breadth of Christian spirituality, from Charismatic to Catholic, via Celtic, can not only enrich our faith but strengthen the mission of the Church: 'I have chosen to start with my own experience, not because I am any kind of expert but because the best tutors to me over the years have been those prepared to share with me their stories, their ups and downs of life, their struggles and discoveries. Often their experiences have been very different to my own, but as I listen to them, they help me reflect on what is taking place in me.'

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It is perhaps true for all of us who have drawn from several traditions and spiritualities, that no one direction will seem fully like home to us, and this can make us feel disturbed and possibly lonely, but such disturbance can be very healthy... it seems to me that if we try to conform ourselves to fit exactly with one particular tradition we may be missing some very important pathways in our souls, pathways that are known to God. (p. 27)

Michael Mitton's new book is for anyone who is looking for confirmation that seeking out and exploring different Christian spiritualities to discover more of God is not only right but essential for spiritual growth and development. Travellers of the Heart is Michael's own journey of exploration, told not to offer a blueprint for how others may proceed but to share how God revealed himself to Michael through different Christian spiritualities and the benefits and dangers he discovered.

When I first came to put all this down in the form of a book, I saw my exploration as a journey through different physical terrains that somehow matched my experience of particular spiritualities. My experience of Anglican spirituality felt like firm plains that provided security; I saw evangelical spirituality as the Home Counties, because when I encountered evangelical spirituality I lived in that part of the country, but also I think we all have a spirituality that is the home county where our faith was initially nurtured. I saw my charismatic experience as a delightful rushing stream, but also with that unpredictable flow that could make it a bit dangerous! Catholic spirituality felt a bit risky and took me to places that seemed more like borderlands, but full of interest and adventure. Celtic spirituality felt like high mountains, ancient and rugged - in climbing them you get fascinating views. Liberal spirituality was the one I was told to avoid as an evangelical, so it felt like marshlands - full of threat - but, as I discovered, also full of life and beauty. Finally, missional spirituality was the one that took me to the coastlands and became the one with most adventure and promise.

Michael discusses the loneliness that such a journey can create because new discoveries may not be easily accepted by your traditional church home. He also acknowledges that in every Christian tradition there is a kind of shadow side. The spirituality we discover is initially full of light and we feel very positive about it, but then, as we explore it more fully, we can discover aspects of it that are disturbing, requiring us to ask: is it the heart and soul of the tradition that creates the shadow or the way people have misused that heart and soul?

Michael finishes by reflecting on the missional coastlands. Before the church lies an ocean of 21st-century people with whom it has little or no contact. Christian spirituality needs adjustment in language and forms to reach out to them. This journey is just beginning!

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The blend of Michael's own journey and story woven with the different streams of spirituality makes for a lovely gentle way of opening up the gifts of the tradition. His posture of openness and generosity is one I aspire to and I particularly like the way the book concludes in the coastlands of mission which seems to me to be the most natural way to unite.
Jonny Baker, pioneer mission leadership team, CMS

Author info

Michael Mitton is a freelance writer, consultant, Greenbelt speaker, trainer and spiritual director based in Derby.He is also the Bishop of Derby's Adviser for Fresh Expressions and is Priest in Charge of St Paul's, Derby. He has previously worked for the Acorn Christian Healing Foundation and Anglican Renewal Ministries. He has also written The Rainbow of Renewal (2005, Lent), A Handful of Light (2008, Advent) and A Heart to Listen (2004, new ed 2010) for BRF and contributes to New Daylight.


Reviewed by Sheila Robinson

For anyone on a spiritual journey, this is a fascinating and encouraging read, as the author shares his own personal story and describes the people who have led him on from one spirituality to another. I often identified with Michael Mitton's account of his feelings and discoveries, and found his honesty and his psychological insight very uplifting. At the end of each chapter the author gives questions for reflection which are quite challenging, and help the reader to question his or her own choices and feelings from the past. At the end, among other questions, we are invited to consider what our feelings are about the first spirituality that was life-giving for us. For me, very early in my life, I think it may well have been pantheism. Michael Mitton also considers the dangers of tribalism in our attitude to what we and other people believe, which has a toxic effect upon our ability to come alongside those who are different. We need to seek to be true to our convictions without behaving tribally. An excellent book which I recommend to anyone who identifies as being on a spiritual journey.

Reviewed by Ann Gray

A thought provoking book. Clarifying the various traditions and enabling a reflection of my own spiritual journey which has embraced some of the territories in the book and a desire to explore further the next stage of my personal journey

Reviewed by Andrew Dotchin

If you have a friend who is considering stepping out on the journey of formal ministry buy them this book now!

Based on Michael's journey of life he reminds us that the church also has its own road map with different Highlands and Coastlands, Borders and Marshlands, Plains and Home Counties.

Taking the various spiritualities found in Churches in England (but also drawing on experience elsewhere in the world) he encourages readers to refuse to simply travel the physical journey of faith but also to reach out to other parts of Christian experience beyond the comfort zone of their church practice and piety.

He demonstrates how Conservative Evangelical need 'woolly' Liberals, Catholics need Charismatics, and Celtic and Fresh Expressions of the faith help the whole church grow together.

For the individual on a journey into following and serving Christ this is a very helpful road map which will encourage reflection on their own tradition, help them perceive the light which the experience of others bring to the journey, and is an antidote to the tribalism which so easily pervades the church.

Be careful to take good note of the 'Questions for Reflection' at the end of each chapter as they provide fruitful food for the journey for anyone who truly desires to be a pilgrim of the faith whichever road they find themselves upon.

On reading the book I felt myself itching to read more of Michael's writings and longing for a second edition of this one. Which revision would include for each chapter a simple reading list explaining more about the different kinds of Christian Spirituality it explores.

Now which person newly embarking on the 'Heart Journey' of formal ministry are you going to give this book to?

Book details

  • ISBN: 9780857462213
  • Published: 19 July 2013
  • Status:
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 144
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