Meet John Stott
Conversion at Cambridge
John Stott, who has been referred to by David Edwards as "The most influential clergyman in the Church of England during the twentieth century," writes that his childhood was privileged and rather ordinary, but marked by religious curiosity. He says, "My adolescence was typically religious…My mother taught my sisters and me to go to church on Sundays and to read the Bible and say our prayers daily…[But,] I found the whole exercise extremely unsatisfying. [I was] convinced that there was more to religion than I had so far discovered." It wasn’t until many years later, while a student at Cambridge University, that Stott was invited to a meeting of the Christian Union and would finally make sense of Christianity. At that meeting, Stott understood for the first time what it meant to give his life wholly to Christ. In Basic Christianity, Stott uses the third person to describe his conversion: "A boy in his later teens knelt at his bedside one Sunday night in the dormitory of his school. In a simple, matter-of-fact but definite way he told Christ that he had made rather a mess of his life so far; he confessed his sins; he thanked Christ for dying for him; and he asked him to come into his life."
A Commitment to All Souls
In 1950, just following the Second World War, John Stott was appointed rector of All Souls Church in London. The church, along with the entire country of England, was in tumult, and had not even been fully restored from bomb damage suffered during WWII air raids. When Stott arrived at All Souls, he was ready and excited to rebuild the church. He brought with him a vision of a church where members were bonded together in study, fellowship, worship, prayer, and evangelism. He immediately set to work on transforming that vision into reality. In a generation where pastors often abandon their congregations at the first whiff of hardship, changing churches on average every three years, Stott has remained committed to All Souls. Nearly fifty years later, in his mid-seventies, he is still ministering at the only church he has ever served. However, along the way God has blessed and multiplied the scope of Stott’s ministry, and he has become an inspiration to millions and a global church leader by way of his preaching and books. So, although he has been faithfully rooted at All Souls in London, Stott’s pastorate has grown to include the world.
Stott’s Remarkable Literary Output
As a church leader, Stott’s credentials are long and impressive. In 1967 and 1977 he sponsored two groundbreaking National Evangelical Anglican Congresses, which made great strides for reuniting Anglicans and Evangelicals in their Christian vision and ministry. Later, in 1974, he became the principal drafter of the covenant for the International Congress on World Evangelization. Despite his own privileged upbringing, Stott has showed his compassion and heart for the third world by creating a foundation to focus on ministry to underprivileged nations. One of the most prolific writers of our time, Stott has authored more than 42 books, edited 14 books, and has written 500 chapters, essays, articles, and booklets. However perhaps more impressive than the sheer volume of Stott’s writing is the consistent quality of his work. He is undeniably one of the most important Christian writers of this century. His Basic Introduction to the New Testament has become a classic text for biblical studies, The Cross of Christ is a tender book written about the Atonement, and Basic Christianity is one of the most recognizable and important explanations of Christianity available today. It alone has sold over a million copies, and is available in fifty different languages.