On opposite sides of the revered Buckingham Palace and its spacious Green Park sit two houses of worship. On the south side is Westminster Chapel, a building in which the famed Martyn Lloyd-Jones preached hundreds upon hundreds of sermons, his voice booming and bouncing off of the sanctuary walls and towering blue ceiling. Lloyd-Jones commanded a pulpit unlike most others; his presence was larger than life, arresting the attention of all within earshot.
To the north sits another church — All Souls Church. During the time that Lloyd-Jones was delivering his powerful sermons on Sundays, the Rector at All Souls did the same. This man had a meeker disposition, a warmer presence about him. He was usually smiling. His sermon delivery was not quite as boisterous as Lloyd-Jones. But it wasn’t any less powerful or significant.
It feels as if John Stott is often the forgotten London preacher. Most within my theological and pastoral circles love and appreciate Charles Spurgeon. We pay tribute to Martyn Lloyd-Jones. But John Stott is usually left behind in the conversation. But Stott, in truth, is one of the most important pastor-theologians of the entire twentieth century. His influence is far greater than we may realize, and his example is beneficial for any ministry leader.
In Stott on the Christian Life, Tim Chester unwinds a synthesis of Stott’s theology and practice. Littered with biographical details that give us context, Chester points us to a few of the key pillars on which Stott’s ministry rested. Stott pulls together a collection of his thoughts on a variety of themes, including preaching, evangelism, sanctification, the cross, and social justice.
The piece of Stott’s life and ministry that I came to appreciate the most through this book was how apparent it was that Stott lived what he taught. He encouraged preachers to do and mean and feel what they say. But this was a general approach to all ministry for Stott. There’s a riveting anecdote of Stott, in an effort to better learn about the community he ministered to, spending two days on the street living as a tramp which curate at All Souls. His notable “Q Days” inspired me to implement them in my own context, not letting busyness, but being in Christ, dictate my work output.
John Stott has the kind of demeanor and unassuming nature that may be easy to forget, but we are better off for having learned from him and his works. He was not without his faults (as Chester notes), but he was also one of the most influential and important preachers and theologians of the last 100 years. Left to us is a legacy of books and teachings, from classics Between Two Worlds and The Cross of Christ to his Bible Speaks Today commentary series, that serve as great aids to the current-day pastor. Here in Stott we find more than a professional; we find a man who pursued and practiced being like Christ.
Thank you to Tim Chester for providing us a wonderful glimpse into the life and ministry of John Stott. Stott on the Christian Life encourages us not to forget one of the past century’s most towering giants for Christ.
*Thanks to Crossway for providing a copy of this book in exchange for this review.