Stepping into Grace

Moving beyond ambition to contemplative mission

Paul Bradbury

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When the people of the Bible needed to work out their choices and challenges of God and faith they told a story. Paul Bradbury has done the same. He has listened, wrestled and travelled with Jonah's story through his own calling. The result is honest, creative and transforming.
David Runcorn, author of Dust and Glory (BRF, 2015)

Content

Journey with the prophet Jonah...

Written by someone with experience of pioneering mission, reflecting on the Jonah story in the light of his experience, Stepping into Grace finds powerful connections between the call and mission of Jonah and the mission context of our own time. Using the narrative thread of the biblical story to explore themes of ambition, vocation, spirituality, mission, leadership and personal growth, it argues for a ministry rooted in grace, where who we are becoming in Christ provides a foundation for our participation in the mission of God. This unique journey takes us to a place of grace where the work of God, in shaping who we are, finds space alongside what we feel called to do.

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Endorsements

When the people of the Bible needed to work out their choices and challenges of God and faith they told a story. Paul Bradbury has done the same. He has listened, wrestled and travelled with Jonah's story through his own calling. The result is honest, creative and transforming.
David Runcorn, author of Dust and Glory (BRF, 2015)

To quote the paraphrase: "God's strength shows up best in weak people." This book unpacks that truth in a refreshingly humble, inspiring and personal way. A must read for aspiring pioneer leaders.
Phil Potter, Leader of Fresh Expressions

Author info

Based in Poole Paul is a pioneer minister in the Church of England leading a missional community with a vision to connect with unchurched people. Writer, birdwatcher, runner, cricketer. Married to Emily with 2 children. Paul has written a book for SPCK in the past.

Reviews

From Church Time 31 March 2017

Prophet to pioneers

Steven Croft finds a study of Jonah to be required reading

The Book of Jonah is bigger than it looks. Four short chapters of parable, drama, and psalm hide uneasily among the minor prophets. The story delights children and defies the literalists. Jonah's story, read well, draws us into an ever deepening reflection on our calling and life and service.

Paul Bradbury's short guide to Jonah is also somewhat bigger than it looks. There are seven short chapters on themes that arise jointly from the text and from Paul's experience of pioneer ministry in Poole. The chapters explore big themes: ambition, fear, chaos, darkness, limits, grace and the contemplative life. For me, the most helpful chapters were the first and the last.

The book owes an acknowledged debt to Eugene Peterson's profound reflection on Jonah (Under the Unpredictable Plant: A study in vocational holiness, Eerdmans, 1992), which I have read at almost every vocational junction. The insights from text and context here are fresh. Peterson's book is shaped to be a call to a long obedience in the same direction. Bradbury is wrestling with the call to pioneer in new forms and places and styles. He challenges some emerging myths about new forms of ministry and wrestles with some classic temptations.

The scholarship is excellent. I enjoyed most the careful attention to the Hebrew texts. Bradbury quotes Rowan Williams, Richard Rohr, Pope Benedict, Brene Brown, and many others. The writing is in parts very clear and in other parts very dense and concentrated. The author has almost too much to say in some of the chapters for the space available.

Pioneer ministry is still a relatively recent development in the Church of England's long experience of ministry. The literature remains small, and I am not aware of many books that offer biblical and theological reflection in this depth. I hope that Stepping into Grace will find a place on reading lists for those considering ordination and those being formed for pioneer ministry. It would be a good Lenten companion for anyone wanting to reflect on ministry and discipleship in any context. The reader should be prepared for challenge as well as fresh insight.

Reviewed by Dr Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford

Book details

  • ISBN: 9780857465238
  • Published: 18 November 2016
  • Status:
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 144
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