Transforming Friendship

Investing in the next generation - Lessons from John Stott and others

John Stott would never have called it ‘mentoring’, but, throughout his life, he instinctively drew alongside younger men and women from across the world, gently pastoring them within the context of a warm, genuine and healthy “Paul-Timothy” friendship. Why aren’t these intergenerational friendships more common in the church today?

In Transforming Friendship, I acknowledge that recent serious scandals and suspicion prevalent in our culture have made people more cautious about these kinds of relationships. The church, therefore, needs to lead the way in seeing friendship transformed into something safe, life-giving and Christlike.

In the book I try to share the transformative experience of being Stott’s close friend. Using examples from the Bible, Christian history and the church today, it makes the case for a model of “Gospel-crafted” friendship, with a particular emphasis on the need for more Paul-Timothy type relationships like the one I enjoyed with Stott.

Transforming Friendship is firstly, a tribute to the transforming nature of gospel-centred friendship and secondly, a re-examination of the concept of friendship – though trivialised and distorted – as worthy of transformation.

In his latter chapters, Wyatt addresses more bespoke aspects of friendship: Paul–Timothy intergenerational discipleship; friendships that go wrong; and the ‘world-changing’ friendships of Simeon, Newton and Wilberforce. This multi-dimensional perspective brings a breadth and depth which personally refuelled my desire for investing in friends.

This is a book that will certainly encourage and equip those involved in pastoral ministry. Equally, this would be a helpful spur for any believer willing to take the time to ‘have a cup of coffee’ with someone younger in their faith. 

Rebekah Brown, in her review for Evangelicals Now

[Wyatt] argues for the recovery of a biblically based understanding of friendship, and uses the relationship of Paul and Timothy, in particular, to spell out what this involves. This is a friendship rooted in our relationship with Christ, who called us friends, and who helps us to grow in Christ-like love. It is expressed in regular prayer for our friends and their true and lasting good. He argues that gospel-shaped friendships should be an important part of the Christian life, and that these can exist without exploitation or abuse.

The title of the book, Transforming Friendship, is meant to indicate two kinds of transformation: first, the way in which such friendships can change our lives, halving our troubles and doubling our joys, as J. C. Ryle put it; and, second, the way in which our whole understanding of friendship in the modern world needs to be transformed. There can be such a thing as a healthy intimate friendship in which two people reveal to each other their deepest hopes and fears, and which is neither abusive nor potentially predatory.

Richard Harries, in his review for Church Times

A series of episodes of my podcast Matters of Life and Death drew out some themes from the book:

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