Rich Mullins: An Arrow Pointing to Heaven, By James Bryan Smith

Rich Mullins

An Arrow Pointing to Heaven

25th Anniversary Edition

by James Bryan Smith
Foreword by Brennan Manning

Rich Mullins
  • Length: 240 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: February 07, 2023
  • Imprint: IVP Formatio
  • Item Code: A0734
  • ISBN: 9781514007341

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Experience Rich Mullins's Legacy of Joy and Real Compassion

Beloved contemporary Christian musician Rich Mullins lived his life with abandon for God, leaving the spotlight to teach music among a Navajo community. An accident cut his life short in 1997, but his songs and ragamuffin spirit continue to teach many.

In honor of the twenty-fifth anniversary of Rich's homegoing, this edition of Rich Mullins: An Arrow Pointing to Heaven delivers an intimate look at the experiences that sparked praise hits and the values behind his Christ-like candor. James Bryan Smith captures just what Rich wished for when he said, "I hope I would leave a legacy of joy—a legacy of real compassion."

See the layers of his story through reflections from friends and family, an afterword by Rich's brother David Mullins, and Smith's own bond with him. And in remembrance, be inspired to enjoy God's world as Rich did.

"There are few examples and guides in walking this way of Jesus who have expanded my imagination and hunger for God as Rich Mullins has. His life, ministry, and writing have profoundly shaped me and generations of Christians. This book, written by a trusted friend of Rich, is a beautiful and insightful glimpse into the life of this wise, complicated, struggling, and brilliant ordinary saint. I found Rich Mullins: An Arrow Pointing to Heaven decades ago, and it has indeed helped point me toward God's redemption and goodness."

Tish Harrison Warren, Anglican priest and author of Liturgy of the Ordinary and Prayer in the Night

"James Bryan Smith did with Rich Mullins: An Arrow Pointing to Heaven what Rich did with his life. He was able to tell a story about a man but really tell a story about God."

David Mullins, speaker, minister, and brother of Rich Mullins

"Rich Mullins: An Arrow Pointing to Heaven is the most powerful book I have read in the last five years. . . . It is the purest echo of the gospel I have read in a long, long time."

Brennan Manning, author of The Ragamuffin Gospel

"Writing a book about someone who meant so much to so many is a daunting task but one that James Bryan Smith has accomplished with a great deal of passion and wisdom. This book is a gift to all of us who miss having Rich in this world, and it will be a treasure to those who are just discovering who he was."

Andrew Peterson, recording artist and author of The God of the Garden

"Rich Mullins: An Arrow Pointing to Heaven gives us an intimate and honest picture of Rich, but even more importantly, the book gives us a passionate, powerful picture of the God Rich loved. Read with caution: This is a dangerously challenging work about a life lived in pursuit of God's own heart. You will not make it to the final chapter unchanged."

Carolyn Arends, recording artist and director of education for Renovaré

"In Rich Mullins: An Arrow Pointing to Heaven, James Bryan Smith writes fondly of his friend Richard Mullins. Even more, he shares the spirit of devotion that characterized Rich's life. Even more still, he points us to that great reservoir of devotion that has sustained followers of Jesus Christ throughout the centuries."

Richard J. Foster, founder of Renovaré and author of Learning Humility

"I don’t know many people who have died and left so many people saying, 'I need what Rich Mullins's life brought to the table, and I don't know where else to find it except in looking at his life and listening to what he had to say.'"

Amy Grant, Christian musician and author of Mosaic

"Many of us have been touched and moved by the life, music, and message of our dear brother Rich Mullins. I came to know Rich only a little, more toward the end of his sojourn here on earth. Fortunately, I was able to get a closer look into his life and what made Rich the man he was because of this touching and real story by Jim Smith. We can all see a little of ourselves in these pages. As C. S. Lewis said, 'We meet no ordinary people in our lives,' and Rich was no exception—his life was and still is an extraordinary example of God's grace and mercy to us all."

Phil Keaggy, guitarist and recording artist

"The years I spent inordinate amounts of time with Rich, from 1991 till his passing, were filled with a constant sense of wonder with what God had prepared for us, his children. I'll never regret the time we had to enjoy the journey. This book will give the reader a glimpse into that world."

Jimmy Abegg, visual artist and member of A Ragamuffin Band

"Rich Mullins was a pilgrim. He passed through here, sank into his own humanity, and rose to heights of sacredness through grace. His irreverent spirituality touched many, confused some, and gave hope to many more. In this book one can reach into the inside of this man. This is not the spiritual climb of an ascetic but the dusty road of a pilgrim. Rich did not rise to meet God; God came and got him—and much too soon for the rest of us. Thanks to Jim Smith for helping us be guided by Rich's sensitivities between these pages."

John Fischer, pioneer of Jesus music and author of Fearless Faith


Foreword by Brennan Manning

1. First Family: Understanding His Roots
2. Creed: Being Made in the Church
3. The Love of God: Encountering the Reckless, Raging Fury
4. Boy Like Me/Man Like You: Trusting in Jesus
5. Calling Out Your Name: Seeing God in the Beauty of Creation
6. Bound to Come Some Trouble: Growing Through Struggle and Pain
7. My One Thing: Finding Freedom in Simplicity
8. Growing Young: Dealing with Sin and Temptation
9. Brother's Keeper: Learning to Love One Another
10. That Where I Am, There You May Also Be: Meditating on Death and the Life to Come

Afterword by David Mullins
Spiritual Writings by Rich Mullins: Social Aspects of the Beatitudes, Scared of the Dark
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
Song List


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James Bryan Smith

James Bryan Smith is the author of The Good and Beautiful Series. He is a theology professor at Friends University in Wichita, Kansas, where he also serves as the director of the Apprentice Institute for Christian Spiritual Formation. A founding member of Richard J. Foster's spiritual renewal ministry, Renovaré, Smith is an ordained United Methodist Church minister and has served in various capacities in local churches.