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EFAC Australia

Essentials

David Claydon

At the St Paul's Cathedral Thanksgiving Service for the life of John R.W. Stott held on 13 January 2012, an insert with the service sheet suggested that John will be remembered 'as an outstanding biblical preacher … as a strategic leader of the worldwide evangelical movement, as a prolific writer, and as a model of Christlikeness and personal friendship.'

These personal, God-given gifts were a linking factor in bringing together John Stott and Billy Graham. They came together in 1955 when Dr Graham was invited to lead a mission at Cambridge University and John Stott assisted him. In the years that followed their friendship grew and they expressed to each other the need strongly to promote the most important task for all Christians, namely to be involved in the evangelisation of the world. Their discussions led them to conceive of an International Congress of Church leaders from around the world to meet together and consider how they could all be involved in world evangelisation. Billy Graham's staff team worked on a Congress program and it was considered that the way forward would be to have a Covenant which expresses the most important biblical principles agreed to by those committed to Christ's calling to take the gospel to the world (cf Matt 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8, 11).

Alan Nichols with Stephen Hale

During John Stott’s long and remarkable global ministry, he often weighed into the great theological controversies of his day. It would be unfair to suggest he was a controversialist, yet it would also be true to say he was unafraid of controversy.

This flowed out of his overall teaching, preaching, writing and speaking ministry. He was committed to engaging with the Word of God as well as the issues of his day. As he put it in his classic book, I Believe in Preaching (1982 and still in print), ‘the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.’ Stott had a high commitment to seeking to unpack the scriptures but also to the application of the scriptures.

In my conversation with Alan Nichols he reflected on Stott’s approach and impact. In the course of Alan’s long ecclesiastical career he was involved in the communications team at the Lausanne Congress in 1974 as well as many other global and local EFAC gatherings. Alan had the privilege of seeing John Stott in action both up front and behind the scenes. This article is a series of reflections drawn from Stott’s books, his public engagements and the impact these made in particular on social justice, women’s ministry and simple lifestyle.

Wei-Han Kuan

John Stott was inducted as the new Rector of All Souls’, Langham Place in 1950. He outlined in his first sermon five criteria that he believed ought to be applied to their local church ministry.

These were published that week as his ministry manifesto in the church newsletter, All Souls. Timothy Dudley-Smith writes that Stott at this time knew himself to be, ‘a product of Iwerne and CICCU’; that is, a product of the famous and influential public school (English private school) camping ministry of the Rev’d ‘Bash’ Nash, and of the Cambridge Inter-Collegiate Christian Union—a progenitor of the AFES and IFES movements. Their methods of ministry informed his five criteria:

  1. The priority of prayer;
  2. Expository preaching;
  3. Regular evangelism;
  4. Careful follow-up of enquirers and converts; and
  5. Systematic training of helpers and leaders.

Glenn N. Davies
President of EFAC Australia
John R. W. Stott was a well-known evangelist and apologist in the 1950s, undertaking various university missions in England, while ministering at All Souls' Langham Place, first as a curate (1945- 50) and then as Rector from 1950.
Stott's first visit to Australia was in 1958, the same year that both Basic Christianity and Your Confirmation were published. These were extremely influential books in Australia. The first for Evangelicals of all denominations and the second for Anglican young people in particular, as they prepared for their confirmation. The latter was the standard text for a generation of confirmees.

The purpose of Stott's visit to Australia was to lead university missions in Melbourne and Sydney. One student present at Sydney University's mission recalls that on one occasion Stott had suffered a bout of laryngitis, disabling the projection of his voice to the gathered throng. Yet, as God's grace is perfected in human weakness, this affliction did not prevent the Spirit's work in drawing many students to Christ.

Richard Trist
Dean of The Anglican Institute, Ridley College, Melbourne

What a privilege it was to get to know John Stott when my family joined the congregation of All Souls’ Langham Place in the mid-1990s.

By the time we had arrived, ‘Uncle John’ had retired as rector of the church and was carrying out a wider preaching and teaching ministry. He still however attended church services, prayer meetings and staff gatherings as often as he could.

Our first encounter with John occurred just after we arrived in the parish. We were busily unpacking boxes and settling into our apartment when the phone rang. ‘It’s John Stott here. I just want to wish you a warm welcome to London and to All Souls. I have been praying for you all. How are you and the children, Luke, Sophie, Lily and Grace?’ Apart from the fact that one of my theological heroes had just phoned and invited me to join him for afternoon tea the following week, what struck me was that he was interested in us as a family. He knew each of the children by name. He had been praying for this new Australian clergy family, and amidst his busy schedule was willing to find out how we were. What a model of pastoral care!

Bishop Michael Stead

John Stott was prolific as an author. He wrote over 70 books between 1954 and 2010, of which many were careful expositions of the Scriptures that have served generations of Bible teachers.

One of Stott’s early works is also his most influential. Basic Christianity, which was published in 1958, has been rated by Christianity Today as one of the top 100 books of the 20th century. The book is, as the name suggests, a basic introduction to the Christian faith, which Stott examines under 4 headings — Who Christ Is, What We Need, What Christ Has Done, and How to Respond.

Peter Adam
We have good reason to thank God for John Stott.
Here I focus on his preaching, both method andmessage.
PREACHING METHOD
John visited Australia in January 1965, and this visit—one  of many—had a profound effect on Australian  preaching.1 He gave Bible studies on 2 Corinthians at the  CMS Summer Schools in several states in Australia. Much  Australian preaching at that time was on 'a text', that is,  on an individual verse from the Bible, often without much  regard to its context. In his Bible studies John Stott was  demonstrating the obvious value of preaching from a  passages of Scripture, and from consecutive passages of  Scripture. His example had a profound impact on  Australian preaching.2 One person who was profoundly  affected by this change in preaching style was Sydney  evangelist John Chapman, who reflected this way on  Stott's influence:

'Prior to that, I had tended to get an idea from a passage and  leap all over the Bible supporting the idea from other parts so  that the people I taught knew the "idea" but not the passage  from which it came or how that passage fitted into some overall  argument from the Scriptures … He provided a model for  expository preaching that I could copy and make my own.'3

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