*** DEBUG END ***

Home by Another Route: Re-imagining today’s Church by Paul Bradbury

13 March 2020

Paul Bayes considers a vision of church-building

PAUL BRADBURY has a vision for the future of the Church. His account recognises and accepts the reality of the chaotic, fluid culture of the West. In such a context, he says, “Perhaps . . . the most fruitful way to explore our place as the Church in the maelstrom of the world is to play with story.”

The Bible is a good resource for playing with story — this complicated library of books which, certainly in the case of the Hebrew scriptures, has nothing direct to say about the preferred shape of the Christian Church. In its stories it is possible to find many echoes and pre-echoes of the way we might want to do things today.

For example, similar reflections have found their home in the Book of Nehemiah, which can be read as a series of helpful hints on building a Church as well as building a wall. Managerial and devotional lessons — vision, perseverance, prayer, teamwork — can be found in Nehemiah for the Churches and their leaders, if you can skate over some of the less politically correct stories in that interesting book.

Bradbury, on the other hand, draws on bleaker stories — in particular, the image of the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37. He seeks to discern the Spirit moving among the bones today. As he does so, he shapes an attractive vision of the Church — a light, innovative, relational community, counter-cultural in its radical sharing, critical of consumerism and of an instrumental obsession with growth and prosperity. He finds in Ezekiel both the motivation for his own preferred way of being the Church, and the reassurance that God’s inspired word prefigures the choices that he and his community have made.

Bradbury’s approach rhymes interestingly with that of more conservative defenders of the inherited parish system, those who ask us simply to hold our nerve in hope, faithful to that which we have received, not changing a thing, waiting for the bones to reconnect. Like them, Bradbury is critical of an anxious Church that simply wants to find a winning formula and clone it. Unlike them, he sees the need to explore a radical “reimagination” of the ways things are, and could be, when Christians gather.

His book will therefore rattle many bones among those of us who explore and debate the renewing and reforming of the Church. For this reason, I recommend it gladly.

The Rt Revd Paul Bayes is the Bishop of Liverpool. 


Home by Another Route: Re-imagining today’s Church
Paul Bradbury
BRF £7.99
Church Times Bookshop £7.20

Church Times Bookshop

Save money on books reviewed or featured in the Church Times. To get your reader discount:

> Click on the “Church Times Bookshop” link at the end of the review.

> Call 0845 017 6965 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm).

The reader discount is valid for two months after the review publication date. E&OE

Forthcoming Events

24 May 2022
Disability and Church: Intersectionality
A joint webinar from HeartEdge and Church Times.

2 July 2022
Bringing Down the Mighty: Church, Theology and Structural Injustice
With Anthony Reddie, Azariah France-Williams, Mariama Ifode-Blease, Luke Larner, Will Moore, Stewart Rapley and Victoria Turner.

More events

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)