A conversation about calling

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Jen Bradbury. Called: A Novel about Youth Ministry Transitions. The Youth Cartel, 2020.

Eb, Jon, Terry, Jen

I’ve known Jen for several years. We’ve worked on some research projects together. I asked her to write about one of my books. For me, she’s the person who asks me to consider “What’s the understanding of Jesus that underlies this?” (To use her word, “What’s the Christology?”) For a whole bunch of students, she’s been Pastor Jen. Jen’s worked in youth ministry for many years and has researched and written about youth and belief.

What happens eventually to many of us is that we wonder whether to stay where we are or move to something new. When we are employed in ministry, or when we do our work in response to what we think is a calling from God, the idea of changing jobs is complicated.

It would be nice to have someone to talk to as we are at that point.

Jen has given us a book to be one of those conversation partners.

In Called, Jen Bradbury has combined her own experience in ministry, her countless conversations with students, parents, colleagues, and ministry counterparts, and a rich understanding of biblical conversations on calling.

Instead of writing a book that gives all the “right” answers, it’s written as a novel to explore discernment as it unfolds. As a result, we can listen in as a person who is frustrated in a church job talks with herself, her family, her mentor, and people in various churches. This process approach is how job discernment actually works. The questions asked are ones I’ve heard. The conversations ring true. Rather than ending my reading of the book with a formula, I end up having a framework for reflection.

As a person near the end of several ministry careers, (higher education, pastoral staff, chaplaincy, consulting) this book helped me better understand some of my own experiences. As I read this book, I recognized, from my own life, many of the feelings, many of the conversations, many of the people.

This isn’t a novel for escape. But if you are thinking about escaping from ministry, or considering how to better understand the interplay between calling and job, this is a helpful resource.


For Jen’s perspective on the book, read “The story behind CALLED.

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