Archive for John Stott

Teaching New Dogs Old Tricks: lessons on leadership from a master of ministry

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 1, 2010 by stephengardner

A new year brings a new blog post! And I desperately need to get reacquainted with my blogging so I’m thought I’d do that by sharing some insights as I get reacquainted with an old hero of mine.

John Stott

I have finally got around to reading Timothy Dudley Smith’s biography of John Stott. It is excellent, a little daunting being two volumes in length, but excellent!

First up I need to acknowledge a personal bias, I’ve always been a bit of a fan of Stott, he was the man God used in me giving my life to Jesus, but reading through Dudley Smith’s biography has reminded me of how much younger generations, interested in being strategically missional, can learn from this visionary leader.

So, over the next two or three posts I hope to put a spotlight on a handful of ‘leadership lessons’ that can be learnt through Stott’s own expertise as an effective leader, demonstrated in his ministry at All Souls and throughout the world as the leader of a new evangelical movement.

1) Effective leaders are excellent innovators

At the heart of the rapid growth All Souls experienced was a change in the culture of evangelism within the church. In 1950 lay leadership, training schools and ‘every member ministry’ were ‘radically new’ ideas ( Dudley Smith, vol 1.  281). Becoming rector in 1950, Stott identified evangelism as his number one priority and the means of faithful church growth. He developed a 6 month training school for evangelism that equiped  and commissioned lay leaders to present the gospel and counsel new converts. The effectiveness of the Training School was given expression through a campaign of monthly ‘guest services’, where over the course of a few years 1000 people took up the invitation to remain after the guest service where they would meet with the newly trained and commisioned counselors.

Innovative ministries were not only initiated by Stott, at All Souls but internationally. He created a fellowship of evangelical Anglican clergy in England that exploded into EFAC, he founded The London Institute which sought to give a public platform for thoughtful theological responses to current issues. The London Institute was no doubt the fruit of Stott’s involvement with the Lausanne Movement of the 70’s.

2) Effective leaders are often highly gifted administrators

Reading through stories about Stott’s years of ministry experience, there’s a sort-of annoying ease at which he appears to be able to make things happen. A certain efficiency and effectiveness is demonstrated that very evidently achieved great results. This, I think, is a quality that many (including myself) admire and appreciate in leaders. Just think of more recent leaders like Mark Driscoll whose giftedness as an administrator is obvious when you consider the speed at which he has been able to help create and shape mass movements and organizations.

Stott, I think, is similarly gifted, yet for him this gift did not come without hardwork. As a leader he is remarkably disciplined and efficient with his time, Dudley Smith tells of how, during his university days, Stott would have a sign on his college door saying ‘Working 8am-8pm. Please do not disturb unless urgent.’!

3) Effective leadership is often in the context of a versatile urban ministry

All Souls Langham Place under Stott was a Biblically faithful and rapidly growing church in an area of London not too dissimilar to parts of urban Sydney. An area of contrast; with young, rich, trendy cool cats mixed into an area with people far below the poverty line, and directly across the road from the church building – the BBC’s Broadcasting House. Faithful urban ministry in such a context needs to include people from every background, not neglecting the rich for the poor, the poor for the rich and making the most of a strategic location next to the city’s media centre.

During the early years of Stott’s time as Rector, All Souls developed a number of ministries that are now common among influential urban churches, be that lunch time expositions or inner city-fringy-youth groups. But surprisingly (to me) was Stott’s hands on approach in serving  the poor and marginalized. Dudley Smith records how  Stott would often dress himself in old, torn clothing, let his appearance go a little and spend 2 nights living on the streets of London. His desire was to be able to identify with the large number of homeless people All Souls ministered to. How excellent is that?! Lots of us wish to be effective leaders, but I’m not sure many of us would wish to be that radical!

More to come…


I’ve been memed…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on May 28, 2009 by stephengardner

Over at Hebel, Matt Moffitt has embarked on a great little exercise. Its called a meme apparently.


Matt’s requirements are:
i.    To list a helpful book I’ve read from this category
ii.    Describe why I found it helpful
iii.    Tag five more friends to spread the meme love

1.    Theology
There are two books that have changed my life dramatically. The first of these is John Stott’s The Cross of Christ. Everyone knows it’s a classic, and almost every man, woman and child has read it. But, this book for me marked a turning point in my life. I had read it on and off for a period of 2-3 years as someone quite ready to give up the faith. Then one day I read it and could not put it down, I realised with a new clarity what Jesus had done. The words that changed me are still underlined in my book—I remember reading them for the first time so clearly:

“This is how the Apostles saw it. Herod and Pilate, Gentiles and Jews, they said, had together ‘conspired against Jesus (Acts 4.27). More important still, we ourselves are also guilty. If we were in their place, we would have done what they did. Indeed, we have done it. For whenever we turn away from Christ, we ‘are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace’ (Heb 6.6). We too sacrifice Jesus to our greed like Judas, to our envy like the priests, to our ambition like Pilate. ‘Were you there when they crucified my Lord?’ the old Negro spiritual asks. And we must answer, ‘Yes, we were there.’ Not as spectators only but as participants, guilty participants, plotting, scheming, betraying, bargaining, and handing him over to be crucified. We may try to wash our hands of responsibility like Pilate. But our attempt will be as futile as his. For there is blood on our hands. Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us (leading us to faith and worship), we have to see it as something done by us (leading us to repentance).

(The Cross of Christ p.59)

I was brought to tears, stopped reading and prayed and my life was never the same again.

2.    Biblical Theology
As a young punk trying to work out how to make sense of the OT I met with an old minister to read According to Plan by Graeme Goldsworthy. Sure, Goldsworthy’s stuff is bread and butter in most of our churches, and books like climax of the covenant take Biblical Theology to the next level, but I’m so thankful to God for the bedrock laid by Goldsworthy. It’s a blessing to have his efforts so much a part of the theological landscape of the church circles I move in.

3.    God
I’m currently in a reading group that has just about finished The Trinitarian Faith by T. F. Torrance. I’ve found it profoundly helpful in grasping the beauty of the Nicene-Constantinople statements about God. It has opened my eyes to the richness of the creed, it has helped me grasp God’s being more clearly and it has helped me understand the Church’s involvement with the Triune God. Great book!
Yet, I’m hoping to soon finish The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God by R. P. C. Hanson. It promises to trump the Trinitarian Faith, but I feel like I cant claim its significance until I’ve finished it…bummer
4.    Jesus
Like Matt and Byron, there was no way this book was never going to make this list. This is the second book that has changed my life, Jesus and the Victory of God by N. T. Wright. Simply put it is a masterpiece! No book has helped my reading of Scripture more. No book have I referred back to more. No book have I recommended more. It is sweet sweet honey to my lips… It helped me understand the gospel stories and then in turn made me love and appreciate Jesus more! Read it! Read it! Read it!

5.    Old Testament
Again, like Matt, I cant go past Dumbrell’s The Faith of Israel. I have flicked back to it again and again to help understand the entire OT.

6.    New Testament
Resurrection of the Son of God, N.T. Wright. A massive, sweeping account of the New Testament understanding of the Resurrection explained within its Second Temple setting. Widely received and an instant classic on the topic. While I didn’t find it his most grabbing book, it did help me get the uniqueness of the Resurrection and how it truly is an amazing hope for a broken world.
7.    Ethics
Over summer I was greatly encouraged by reading No Rusty Swords, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It’s a funny book, part biography of Bonhoeffer, part a collection of his letters and lectures. Bonhoeffer is someone I deeply admire. The man’s life was such a struggle in understanding ethics so that any study of him is a helpful study in ethics.

8.    Church History
The Christological Controversy by Richard Norris. One of the first books I read at college last year. It truly helped me grow in my thankfulness for the heroes of the early church. It caused me to reflect on the depth of their task in coming to grips with the magnitude of the incarnation. A real highlight was reading Mileto of Sardis and his homily on the Passover
9.    Biography
Not a massive biography reader…But I have dipped in and out of John Stott’s biographies by Timothy Dudley Smith. My father put me onto Stott years ago and he has had a real influence on the both of us. I hope to grow old like him, he is a beautiful man…

10.    Evangelism
Promoting the Gospel, John Dickson. Someone told me not to read this because it was heretical…so that made me want to read it more! Totally glad I did, I think John is bang on and does a nice task of fitting evangelism into how we think about God
11.    Prayer
I need to read more on prayer. I like Matt’s idea of An Australian Prayer Book, because when I think about it, it really has taught me a lot about prayer. It has been particularly helpful in causing me to confess my sin to God. Other than this A Call to Spiritual Reformation is something else I’ve found helpful… but like Chris kept putting it away…maybe it was a tad boring!

So, now I have to choose five likely candidates to be memed…
I’d love to hear what books have shaped, Mark, Nick, Doug, Greg, Geoff

With all this meming my dreams to put up the posts I promised yesterday will be a little delayed…stay tuned