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John Stott [1]

Wednesday 10 July, 2002.

Today was a good day: Jan and I attended a couple of meetings in Melbourne, Australia, where John Stott was the speaker.

He and Chris Wright (to whom he’s ‘handing the baton’ to lead the Langham Trust) are on a tour of Australian cities promoting the Trust – designed to use John Stott’s royalties and other donations to train Third World Christian leaders, and provide books for them. A good cause!

Here are some ‘notes from my notes’ of the lunchtime session:

Chris Wright:

In 1900 10% of all Christians lived in the Third World. Now 75% of all Christians live outside ‘Northern Christendom’, and they provide 50% of the world’s Christian missionaries.

So the centre of gravity for Christianity is moving from North to South, From West to East.

It took 1000 years for Christendom to reach the 30 million mark. Africa reached it in just 15 years.

The are more Anglicans worshipping in Nigeria, than in the U.K., U.S.A., and Australia combined – even though they’re not the largest denomination there.

There are more worshipping Christians in China than in Western Europe.

The largest (Protestant) missionary ‘sending’ country is still the U.S. (60,000). The next? India (40,000) followed by countries like Korea (10,000), and Brazil.

Only twenty of the 700 Baptist pastors in Uganda have had any kind of training for pastoral work at all.

The key problem for Christianity in the Third (or Developing) World is ‘growth without depth’.

John Stott:

In his prayer before the Bible exposition he prayed (with Calvin) for ‘reverence and humility, without which no one can understand your Word’.

He then expounded four ‘Models of [Pastoral] Ministry’ from 1 Corinthians 4:

1. Servants of Christ. We are Christ’s ‘underlings’. He alone is our Lord and Judge. (Not those who write anonymous letters to us. Did you hear the one about the woman who threw a piece of paper at Joseph Parker as he mounted the pulpit. It had one word on it: ‘Fool!’ So he began his sermon: “I’ve gotten many notes without signatures before but this is the first time I got one where someone forgot to write the note and just signed their name!”)

2. Stewards of Revelation. We are trustees of the mysteries of God.

3. The Scum of the Earth. There are three vivid metaphors in 4:9 relating to the public amphitheatre (where criminals fight to the death for the pleasure of the crowd), a kitchen (where filth is removed from floors and vessels), and a plague-ridden city (where scapegoats are sacrificed to pagan gods). Suffering, wrote Bonhoeffer, is the badge of the true Christian. Suffering, wrote Luther, is one of the marks of the true church. This contrasts with some countries where clergy receive tax and travel benefits, or, to murder the English language, are called ‘Reverend’! Beware of being popular at the expense of faithfulness!

4. Fathers of the Church Family (4:14-21). The emphasis here is not merely authority, but affection (in 1 Thessalonians 2 Paul uses a maternal as well as paternal metaphor for his relationship to those people), not severity but gentleness. And we are not ‘fathers’ in the sense of being ‘gurus’ or teachers in the Confucian model, or little popes, or like the British Raj or an African chief with unchallengeable authority.

The essential qualities of a true pastoral ministry are humility and gentleness.

Humility: (a) before Christ, whose subordinates we are; (b) before the Word of God, of which we are stewards; (c) before the world, whose opposition we are bound to encounter; and (d) before the church, whose members we love and serve.

In the next email, I’ll try to summarize his evening talk: ‘Jesus is Lord: A Call to Radical Discipleship’.


Rowland Croucher


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