Every morning, Brad Gray wakes up and asks God, “What can we create today?”
His attitude toward faithfully listening to God and using his passion for storytelling has led him across the country and around the world as he seeks to help people better understand the Bible in its original context.
Gray’s path to becoming a teaching pastor and creator of resources for learning about Scripture began unconventionally. As a business major and basketball player at Cornerstone University, Gray originally planned to help his father in his exercise education and physical rehabilitation business. But, as Gray likes to say, “Following Jesus is always an adventure. Buckle up, and hold on tight because you never know what will happen next.”
After three years of working for his father, Gray felt prompted to change professions, attend seminary and become a pastor— something his grandmother knew all along. “I talked to her on the phone after I made the decision,” Gray laughed. “She said, ‘I always knew you were going to be a pastor.’”
After receiving his Master of Divinity and spending an additional year studying in Jerusalem, Gray became a teaching pastor at Solomon’s Porch church in Jenison, Mich., and three years later for Central Wesleyan Church in Holland, Mich. Four years later, Gray sensed God had a new plan for him.
Over the course of a two-week time period, Gray and his wife, Shallon, were convinced that God was calling them to resign and move to Nashville, Tenn., with their children: Denyon, Aryah, Calyx and Xyler. Within the course of two weeks, they knew that this was what God had planned for them.
“Eleven days later, we stood in front of our congregation at Central Wesleyan and told them, ‘We’re moving to Nashville for no reason other than God is literally telling us to,’” Gray said.
The first year was difficult. Gray and his wife still had no idea why God had called them there. Gray had some speaking engagements lined up as well as some trips to Israel and Turkey he would lead. Beyond that, there were still so many unknowns.
By the end of the last year, things began to crystalize. Gray launched Walking The Text, a crowdfunded, nonprofit organization that creates resources and study trips to biblical lands and helps people understand the Bible in its original context.
As Gray pointed out, “The biggest thing I’ve learned is that context is everything, and yet the vast majority of people have never been taught how to engage the Bible in its original context. It’s why so many people find the Bible difficult to understand. Our goal is to provide necessary tools to help people read the Bible with clarity and confidence.”
Over the last three years, Walking The Text has become a hub of information and rich resources to help believers understand and connect with Scripture.
“The idea of ‘walking’ the text is a reference to the Hebrew word halakh,” Gray said. “Its normal translation is ‘to live’ or ‘to go,’ but it emphatically means ‘to walk,’ as in to walk something out in your life. We don’t want to necessarily help people be smarter—we want them to become more faithful. If you’re gaining information but not experiencing transformation, there’s something wrong. We want people to experience the transformational power of the Word of God when it is lived out in faithful obedience to Jesus.”
Gray publishes multiple videos and podcast teachings on the website on a monthly basis, all of which are completely free. For example, he recently released an eight-part series on the rabbinical world of the New Testament and how Jesus operated within it as a Jewish rabbi. By carefully examining the history and culture of Jesus’ world, Gray paints a vivid picture of what it looked like to be a disciple of Jesus two thousand years ago and what those implications are for us today.
Walking The Text hosts study tours to the Middle East, guided by Gray himself. These aren’t just “bus tours”—travelers can expect to walk where Jesus walked and dig deep into the culture and history of His world.
On a national level, Walking The Text hosts the Infusion Bible Conference, a three-day crash course on biblical context hosted in the Nashville area. It’s dedicated to helping participants understand context through history, geography, culture backgrounds and more. And it is available for anyone to attend.
“When I first learned context, the text went from black-and-white to 4K ultra high definition,” Gray explained. “I think we often make reading the Bible a chore, so I get jazzed when I can bring people inside the story.”
That philosophy is at the heart of Gray’s ministry—to effectively tell the greatest story in human history and to help others be transformed by it.
“The grace of God is in all of this,” Gray said. “I have the privilege and freedom to do everything I can to advance His kingdom in a way that changes people’s lives.”
For Gray, the move was worth it—an opportunity to be unexpectedly blessed and to bring God’s kingdom to earth for people around the country.
Brad Gray graduated from Cornerstone University in 2002 with a degree in business management. After working for a time with his father, Gray studied at Western Theological Seminary and received his Master of Divinity. In 2009, he received a graduate certificate in biblical history and geography from Jerusalem University College. He has pastored at both Solomon’s Porch Church in Jenison, Mich., and Central Wesleyan Church in Holland, Mich. He now lives in Nashville, Tenn., with his wife, Shallon, and their four children. To learn more about Brad and his ministry, visit walkingthetext.com.