Review: Whole by Steve Wiens

The last six weeks have been challenging.

The transition at my church continues to be difficult.

My daughter started preschool and while she’s thriving, adapting our schedules has been rough for all of us.

Multiple people in my husband’s family have been sick.

All of this has left our family frayed and on edge, longing to be whole.

For that reason, I was excited to dig into Steve Wiens book, Whole: Restoring What is Broken in Me, You, and the Entire World.

Whole

While this book was a slow start for me (in fact, I started reading it to my husband on a road trip and he asked me not to continue), I ended up loving it. In fact, I was sorely disappointed we didn’t finish reading it together. Given the season we currently find ourselves in, I would have loved talking with him about it.

What I loved most about Whole was Steve’s exploration of Scripture. Beginning with the second chapter of Whole, each chapter explores a different Old Testament narrative – ranging from Cain to the Israelites and their journey to the Promised Land. Steve brings profound insights to old stories. For example, as he discusses the story of Cain, he shares, “Sin isn’t the first true thing about being human. The first true thing about being human is living with God, and with one another, in the radical vulnerability of complete trust.”

Many people will find Steve’s perspective on God refreshing. For example, according to Steve, “Repentance simply means changing your mind about where you’re going in order to be made whole. Our wholeness – our restoration – is a result of God’s kindness, not God’s determination that we get it right.”

Thanks to the communal nature of the Old Testament, Steve also helps readers explore how their wholeness is connected to the wholeness of others. In his words, “True restoration for one person leads to restoration for another, or else it isn’t restoration.”

Steve also reminds readers, “We can’t talk about restoring the entire world if we don’t talk about repenting of our part in breaking it.”

Whole is a book that will appeal to those who like memoir (there’s enough of Steve’s story in it to captivate your attention) as well as to those interested in digging into Scripture.

Either way, Whole is a book that will challenge people to pursue wholeness, even when the journey's hard. In Steve’s words, “Seeking wholeness is always about leaving one place and going somewhere else. It requires movement. It’s almost always painful, and very often you don’t really know where you’re going until long after you leave.” 

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Disclosure: I received a free copy of Whole: Restoring What is Broken in Me, You, and the Entire World from Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for a fair and honest review.  

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the director of youth ministry at Faith Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and the forthcoming A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

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