Move Toward the Mess by John Hambrick Book Review


by Heather Bock

I homeschool three kids: preschool, 2nd grade, and 3rd grade most of the day Monday through Friday. I teach a class of homeschooled preschoolers Wednesday mornings. I teach English as a Second Language to adults Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights. I write posts for this blog once or twice a week. I’m working toward getting a Bible study I wrote published.

My husband, Greg, is a full-time university philosophy professor. He chairs the university’s ethics committee, which puts on four big community events every year. He attends and presents at numerous conferences throughout the year, and he regularly publishes in philosophy journals and books.

He and I lead an adult Sunday school at our church with Greg doing the bulk of the teaching. As soon as God gives the green light, our family plans to adopt a child. Like many Americans, we’re busy. However, if we do not follow the principles in John Hambrick’s book, Move Toward the Mess: The Ultimate Fix for a Boring Christian Life, in spite of or because of all we do, we will end up bored and/or burnt out.

In his book, Hambrick gives the premise that many Christians are bored. He says that in order to avoid this state, we need to pray and find a way (he gives many ways to figure out which is the best way for you) to “move toward the mess.” Once you do that, you will pretty much be guaranteed not to be bored, but Hambrick hopes you’ll find other reasons to do so other than just keeping yourself from boredom. The mess he refers to is the world without Jesus, whether on streets full of crime, poverty, and prostitution; in war-torn countries; or in the houses across the street of your own neighborhood. He gives many examples of people stepping out in faith to enter the mess in some pretty extreme areas, but he also emphasizes that the mess might be in your own workplace. It’s not just a matter of doing a lot, like Greg and I do, but in it all, noticing the needs and being present in the midst of it.

In addition, if Greg and I approach need where we’re planted, in the university setting and ESL classroom, for example, with an attitude of being better and out of the mess ourselves, we probably won’t have as much of an impact. We need to realize and keep in mind that we are just as much a mess without Jesus, that we need Him daily, as well. This kind of humility will give us the ability to speak into other people’s messes.

Sometimes stepping out will be scary. It will pretty much always be messy for us, but that is where God wants us to be–not just with predictable friends who look just like us or in the safe, comfortable environments we’re used to inhabiting. For me and Greg, this might mean looking for opportunities to either be out of the classroom with students or engaging in conversations that are uncomfortable. Hambrick does agree that we shouldn’t stop being filled up by other believers in safe places like Sunday morning church and small groups, but we can’t just stay there. We need to take what we’ve been given and share it with others.

How do we keep from getting burnt out when we serve in messy situations? With how busy Greg and I are, this is a real concern. Hambrick encourages his readers not to take on too much at the start, but to take on a reasonable amount that can be sustained for a long time. It’s even better when we can find others with the same passion to serve with us–we do better when we step into the mess together.

If you feel like your life as a Christian is boring, I do recommend this book. If you’re not a reader or don’t have time for books right now, I recommend praying about how God might want to use you in the world around you, find your fit based on your passion and God-given talents and abilities, and dive into the mess around you. You won’t be bored for long!


If you resonated with this topic and want to know how to start on a journey toward the mess, I am giving away one copy of the book Move Toward the Mess by John Hambrick. Here’s what you need to do to enter my giveaway:

To enter the drawing, subscribe to my blog:

  • Click the button “follow” in the above right column under my picture and type in your email address.

To earn more entries, or if you’re already following my blog,

  • Share this post via social media. Each share to a different social media venue earns you one entry (up to three).
  • Let me know in a comment where you’ve shared.
  • Notify me of your name.

Giveaways are open to residents of the continental U.S. and Canada only.

I will announce the winner next Saturday, so look for it! If I don’t hear from the winner within a week, I will draw another name. Thank you!

Also, I announced the winner of The Journal the Word NKJV Bible last Wednesday, but I haven’t heard back from the winner yet. Again, the winner of the Bible was beautyforashes. If I don’t hear from you by Wednesday, I will draw another name.


6 thoughts on “Move Toward the Mess by John Hambrick Book Review

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