Spiritual Growth in a Time of Change

Following God in midlife

Tony Horsfall

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Midlife - our 40s and 50s - can be some of the most important years of our lives in spiritual terms. They are also times of change, which can include turbulent emotional transition as we face up to a range of challenging personal issues. Tony Horsfall not only addresses a number of such issues - from facing up to the past to renegotiating relationships - but explores how to navigate a spiritual journey through these years, leading to deeper faith and a closer walk with God.

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Author info

Tony Horsfall is a freelance trainer and associate trainer with EQUIP, a missions programme based at Bawtry Hall near Doncaster, England. He is an elder of his local church in West Yorkshire, and , regularly travels abroad leading retreats and Quiet Days. He has written a number of other books for BRF, including Servant Ministry (2013), Rhythms of Grace (2012), Working from a Place of Rest (2010) and Mentoring for Spiritual Growth (2008). He also contributes to New Daylight Bible reading notes.


Global Member Care Network October 2016

A couple of years ago, someone asked if I could recommend some good reading material on midlife. At the time I didn't know of any, so I am grateful that Tony Horsfall has now provided an excellent book on this topic.

When I hear the word 'midlife', I expect it to be followed by 'crisis'. This book is a refreshing change, focusing instead on the spiritual growth which can take place between the ages of forty and sixty. Tony provides useful reflection questions at the end of each chapter which help promote this growth.

Within days of starting this book, I was already recommending it to mission workers. This book helps us make the most of our forties and fifties, and prepares us for entering future years well so that the 'second half can be the best half'.

Reviewed by Dr Debbie Hawker, Clinical Psychologist

Rapport Magazine, January 2017

Our midlife matters - so says Tony Horsfall, who recognised that during our 40s and 50s we can face periods of uncertainty as we transition from being young into the realisation that life is entering a different phase.

Tony's own experiences of feeling slightly adrift at this age prompted a period of seeking and questioning. A lack of written resources addressing his need triggered the writing of this new book. Spiritual Growth in a Time of Change looks at the changes we face in midlife and how these can provide opportunities to grow spiritually.

Tony divides our midlives into three periods of early, middle and later midlife. Issues of identity, coming to terms with the past and authenticity help us to address areas such as relationships, leadership and maturing in faith. Tony opens up a greater awareness of the psychological, emotional and spiritual challenges that mat appear in midlife. He provides insight from the lives of five different Bible characters (Isaiah, Jacob, Paul, Peter and Jonah) who sought authenticity, identity or reconciliation as they matured.

Each chapter concludes with suggested exercises to help us to experience the grace of God. Gentle questioning serves to help the reader acknowledge their emotions, facilitating a positive embracing of all that has been and that will be.

From Church Times 3 March 2017

Crisis point, or not

Tony Horsfall is a well-known teacher, trainer, and retreat leader who writes on contemplative spirituality from an Evangelical Charismatic perspective.

His latest book looks at the middle of life, and what that means in terms of faith. Midlife, he says, is about the transition between the first and second half of life. It can occur any time between the ages of 40 and 60. While it does not necessarily signal crisis, it is a time full of potential for spiritual growth and change.

'For a growing number of people, midlife proves to be a critical period when they feel a deep-seated need to stop and review their life and the direction it is taking,' he writes. This observation is not itself particularly startling, of course: many others, such as Richard Rohr (whom he quotes extensively), have explored this territory in depth before.

Horsfall seeks to help the reader recognise the transition for what it is. That way, he hopes, individuals will avoid some of the pitfalls and make the most of the opportunities for growth. There are chapters on coming to terms with the past, finding our identity, growing in authenticity, embracing our 'shadow' side, and maturing in faith.

Specifically, he addresses some of the challenges faced by those in leadership and the effect of midlife on relationships. Dropped into the text are observations from his own experience and stories furnished by others, alongside suggested spiritual exercises and 'Bible windows', where he offers passages for further study.

The book is accessible and an easy read. The exercises are practical and pose useful questions. There are welcome suggestions for further reading. Overall, Spiritual Growth in a Time of Change offers a straightforward introduction to the issues, and may provide some welcome light-bulb moments for anyone who is new to the concept of midlife.

Reviewed by Sarah Meyrick, Director of Communications for the diocese of Oxford.

Progressive Voices - Issue 21 - June 2017

In this book, Tony Horsfall, experienced teacher and retreat leader, offers help and guidance to those facing the challenge of what he describes as 'the choppy waters of midlife' - the period, usually occurring between 40 and 50, when we become aware of our limitations and mortality. Acknowledging that some people are sceptical about the notion of midlife, he reviews some of the literature before identifying the changes which can signal the start of it. These include not only the physical but also psychological factors such as beginning to question one's life and, in some cases, one's beliefs and faith. Drawing on his own experience, he divides the journey into three stages - early, middle and later midlife. Each chapter concludes with exercises for reflection focussing on the issues raised in it. In addition to appropriate references to biblical texts, he reflects upon five well-known events from the Bible to bring out their meaning for the various stages of the midlife journey offering 'windows into the ways of God'. He ends with five waymarks to help with that journey. He reminds us that 'knowing God is at work within us...will give us hope when times are hard and help us find meaning in the many changes we face' - something for us all to remember, whatever our stage of life.

Reviewed by Nigel Bastin

Book details

  • ISBN: 9780857464354
  • Published: 21 October 2016
  • Status:
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 160
Messy Church resources
Bible Reflections for Older People - September 2018