Born APRIL 27, 1921
His parents anticipated a political career for him. John might have become an English foreign minister, but instead he became a Christian minister. He became a very influential one. John strongly contributed to expanding evangelical Christianity around the world.
NO LONGER “MENTAL FURNITURE”
At prep school, John found himself in a meeting where both his mind and heart were challenged. The speaker, a pastor, referred to Pilate’s question to the crowd, “What then shall I do with Jesus, who is called the Christ?” (Matthew 27:22) John never believed he was under an obligation to do anything. He conclud-ed he’d been treating Jesus as no more than “Mental Furniture.”
John prayed a prayer that began a personal relation-ship with the One who’d died for his sins. E. J. H. Nash, the pastor whose sermon God had used to spiritually awaken John, began discipling him. John chose to study for the ministry. In 1940, while friends were signing up to defend England from Nazi Germany, John signed up to train as a leader in spiritual warfare.
He completed his studies at Cambridge and received ordination into the Church of England in 1945. Upon graduation, John assumed the role of assistant curate at All Souls’ Church, Langham Place in London. It was the church he’d attended as a child. He became leader of that parish in 1950, remaining at the helm until 1975.
The backbone of John’s ministry: theological solidity. While at Cambridge, surrounded by liberal lions, John didn’t cower. Rather, he dedicated himself to knowing the unchang-ing truths of God’s word. As a preacher, he proclaimed those truths. As an author, he presented them in books like Basic Christianity (translated into more than twenty-five languages).
A WIDER CONGREGATION
When appointed in 1950 to lead All Soul’s Church, John shook the congregation from its complacen-cy. He opened their eyes to the world around them; he trained them in evangelism (not standard for an Anglican Church) and introducing numerous out-reach ministries. He supported the new programs with clear expository preaching.
John’s influence spread outside his denomination. When Billy Graham held crusades in England in the mid-1950s, John helped his country welcome the evangelist with open arms. He later served as an evangelist himself, speaking at Cambridge and Oxford in England and Yale and Harvard in the United States. In 1960, he was appointed chaplain to Queen Elizabeth II, which allowed intermittent opportunities to preach to the royal family.
The following decades brought more speaking invitations. Leading Christian organizations welcomed John’s crisp scripture-based messages that challenged believers to live their faith. At the International Congress on World Evangelization in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1974, John chaired the committee that drew up the Lausanne Covenant. It defined purpose and mission for evangelical churches around the world. The next International Congress, held in Manila in 1989, found John chairing the committee that drafted the Manila Manifesto. The heart of that document gave the call for “the whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world.”
PREACHING AND PRACTICING
In the 1960s, John saw a gaping need in the world’s poorer countries, which he termed the “Majority World.” That need was for quality training and equipping of those called to pastor. He developed an organ-ization that has since had a tremendous international impact. It provides scholar-ships and books for those from the Majority World to be trained for ministry in England and America, then return to their towns and villages to lead their people. It’s known in John’s home country as Langham Partnership International and in the United States as John Stott Ministries.
John’s influential writing of over fifty books grew out of his preaching ministry. He wrote Bible commentaries and guides for living and sharing the faith. His unique book The Birds Our Teachers is the result of a lifelong hobby of birdwatching.
In 2005, Time magazine listed John as one of its 100 most influential people, and rightly so. John helped us focus on the crux of Christian service. He capsulized it at the first Lausanne Conference: “If we love our neighbor we shall without doubt tell him the good news of Jesus. But equally if we truly love our neighbor we shall not stop there.” John practiced what he preached.
Last summer John’s health began to fail. On July 27, 2011, his final day on earth, family and friends gathered at John’s home to listen to a recording of Handel’s Messiah. God’s servant, John Stott, entered the presence of the Lord at age 90.
*Image by Richard Law copyrighted and licensed for reuse.
LET ME KNOW: How has John’s story informed, encouraged, or otherwise helped you? I welcome your comments.
Larsen, Timothy, ed. Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2003.
Temple, Todd and Twitchell, Kim. People Who Shaped the Church. Wheaton, Illinois:Tyndale House Publishers, 2000.
Learn more about John Stott from the following resources————-
Biographies of John-
Wright, Christopher J. H. Portraits of a Radical Disciple: Recollections of John Stott’s Life and Ministry. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2011.
Steer, Roger. Basic Christian: The Inside Story of John Stott. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2010.
Dudley-Smith, Timothy. John Stott: A Global Ministry: The Latter Years. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2001.
Dudley-Smith, Timothy. John Stott: The Making of A Leader: A Biography of the Early Years. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1999.
Find and order books by John at these locations-
InterVarsity Press- http://www.ivpress.com/cgi-ivpress/author.pl/author_id=82
Other online resources
The Lausanne Covenant and the Manila Manifesto can both be read here-http://www.lausanne.org/en/documents/all.html.
Learn more about Langham Partnership International here-http://www.langhampartnership.org/
Read articles at Christianity Today about John following his death last year- http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/special/johnstott.html.
YouTube features messages from John, interviews and his memorials services.——————————————————————————————————-