Archive for Ministry

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…


Pilgrim’s Podcast Episode 6

Posted in The Pilgrim's Podcast with tags , , , , , , on June 23, 2009 by stephengardner


I have been a bit slack with the blogging of late, we’ve had exam nightmares here at MTC, but I’m back…well at least the podcast is!

Today Mark and I interviewed Justin Moffatt and we had a blast. It was great to hear Justin’s thoughts on whole heap of things. If you’ve got an interest in inner city ministry, give it a listen. Or if you just want to hear a bit about whats going on in NYC then give it a listen…


You can find it over on the podcast page.

And remember, we’d love to hear from you. What things would you like to hear about?

Every Body Counts…

Posted in Church with tags , , , on May 22, 2009 by stephengardner

If I have learnt one thing from my time at CCIW it is the importance of every single bum on the pews at Sunday services. My minister and friend, Andrew Katay, has an unmatched zeal for counting, re-counting and re-re-counting the numbers of everybody at church. And I think I have now caught on…
On Sunday mornings I serve at St Albans Five Dock (part of the CCIW family), where on a good day we have 25 bums on pews at the 10am service, a great Sunday will see 30!
3510496239_3eb544934a_mWhen church is this small every body seriously counts. The jump from 25-30 doesn’t sound too great but the difference those 5 bodies bring to the service is significant. The music is better, the sermon feels less awkward and new comers look more comfortable.
This got me thinking of a recent Sunday spent in a church, at the other end of the spectrum, where there are around 400 people at their equivalent service.


But I was surprised to hear, when chatting with the Senior Pastor, that there are no checks in place to count the exact number of people at church. And in conversations I had with church members, a number of them spoke of it taking 6 months to hear of friends moving on from church. You might ask ‘well they cant have been too close can they?’ But that’s beside the point, every body at your church is a somebody with their own story. They are worth fighting for regardless of the size of your service. It really hit home to me that, even when your numbers are big, everybody counts.

If you’re at a bigger church I’d love to hear your thoughts on how (if?) you go about counting numbers at services and, how you ensure you know where your people are…
Thanks for reading.