John Stott 1921 – 2011

The world is a better place for the life and legacy of John Stott, who died yesterday. ‘Uncle John’ – the grandfather of evangelicalism not just in the UK but globally, will be missed.

I still remember the first time I heard him speak in Belfast (with that wonderful ‘BBC’ accent) castigating preachers for sermons that were as

dry as dust and as dour as dishwater

and reminding us that the teacher or preacher is not the be all and end all but that the sermon is to be like the starter from which people can go home and feast on the main course themselves. They are words that still shape my thinking.

I am thankful for his sharp mind and the priority he placed on thinking Christianly and rigorously, and the need for double listening that he championed.  His BST commentary on the Sermon on the Mount still ranks as one of those significant books in shaping my faith. I’m thankful that through his writing I was introduced to Bohnhoeffer, Samuel Escobar, Rene Padilla and many other Christian thinkers who have been formative in my life.

He leaves a significant legacy – setting up Lausanne, the Lausanne Covenant, LICC, and the investment in the church in the two thirds world through the Langham Partnership amongst the many books and commentaries he has written. Although I suspect he was more interested in being faithful to Jesus than the legacy he leaves.

Most of all he was a humble and gracious man – who rarely criticised or condemned others publicly, or got immersed in contraversy in the way we  see too often in the church today.

We need more wise, humble and gracious leaders like him.

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