The Bishop of Penrith publishes new book
A new book for leaders, authored by the Bishop of Penrith, explores what success looks like from a biblical perspective.
Ambition: What Jesus Said About Power, Success and Counting Stuff is published today (21 November) and is the second book to be penned by the Rt Rev Dr Emma Ineson.
It provides church leaders (as well as secular leaders) with an opportunity to reflect on the attendant pressures of Church growth which are allied with ambition, a search for success, and the need to monitor and measure outcomes.
Bishop Emma explained: “I’m somebody who loves to see the Church growing. But being around church leaders – training them at theological college, being married to one and being one myself – I have seen the effect that the constant pressure to grow the Church can have on people.
“The book does not say that we shouldn’t count numbers or look to grow the Church; it’s absolutely correct that we look to do this. But I wanted to offer a chance for us as church leaders to pause so that we can ask ourselves ‘How do we not get caught up in the competitiveness of it all, about whose church is bigger?’
“It’s also important to reflect on the disillusionment that we can experience when the graphs are going in the wrong direction. It’s vital that we remain full of faith and hope no matter whether a church is growing by numbers, remains the same or even declining – though we will want to examine why that’s happening.”
Developed over a number of years, Bishop Emma felt called to write the book as she reflected on her role as the Principal of Trinity College in Bristol and as she prepared for installation as the Bishop of Penrith earlier this year. She completed the book during a month’s study leave, prior to her consecration.
“As a college principal I was passionate about men and women being formed well for their future ministry in the church,” Bishop Emma added. “But at the same time I was also acting as a businesswoman. I was running a college, which relies on student numbers to break even so I had to constantly look at the bottom line figure.
“I actually quite enjoyed that business side of things but I can understand how that can draw people a particular way. Half way through writing the book, I was called to be the Bishop of Penrith.It’s interesting that people talk in terms of this being a ‘promotion’. It’s not. The way we should see the Church, is that it’s a place where people are all seen to have certain roles to perform.”
Over six chapters Bishop Emma considers success and failure, climbing, counting, comparing, leadership in the image of the Trinity and the key spiritual dispositions for ambitious people.
It is the image of a crucified Christ which Bishop Emma looks to draw the reader back to when considering success, ambition and how to measure growth.
In the book’s foreword, the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Rev Justin Welby, draws on the same image, writing: “As Christians, we often want to make a difference. We want to see the world changed. Yet, at the very beginning of the Christian faith, Christ didn’t look successful at all. He was crucified, suffering the shame and ignominy of a criminal’s death, mocked by his detractors and leaving his supporters despairing.”
Bishop Emma added: “In our approach to leadership we’ve got to constantly ask ourselves if we are looking at something through ‘Kingdom lenses’ or are we approaching matters in a different way; are we simply looking at the economics of a given situation or considering things through Biblical lenses?” Bishop Emma said.
“I suppose you could say the writing of this book has been somewhat of a labour of love but I would be delighted if it were particularly helpful for younger Christians who are leading in whatever sector – not only in churches.”
Book signings are also being planned in two of the county’s Christian bookshops –Market Place Books in Cornerstone Christian Bookshop in Whitehaven.
Ambition: What Jesus Said About Power, Success and Counting Stuffis published by SPCK and is also available online.
For further information please contact Dave Roberts, Diocesan Communications Manager, on 07469 153658, 01768 807764 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.