stott_john.jpgToday John Stott is 86 years old. Today also marks the day when Uncle John will formally retire from public ministry. It is for the rest of us a sad day – but for him perfectly right, reasonable and proper. He certainly deserves the rest from the public eye!

Last Sunday (22nd April), he read the Bible reading at our 11.30 service at All Souls, Langham Place (a church he has been associated with since his birth, quite literally). It was a very moving moment – he is of course frail (not surprising at 86 and after a fall and hip replacement last August) and needed help to get into the pulpit which he dominated for so many years. But his voice – unique and unmistakable – was as strong, crisp and clear as ever. There was clearly no way he could sustain it for long so it is no wonder he’s cutting back. But there is no doubting the commitment, conviction and passion that still remain despite the frailties – which is why he is determined to speak at the Keswick Convention this year as the one exception to his public retirement.

I’ve been trying to think of the things that i most appreciate about him and stott-at-arocha.jpeghis ministry (even though I’ve only recently got to know him a little bit having only met a few times before joining the All Souls staff). This posting is not hagiography, guru-worship nor a form of evangelical papism! He is the first to deplore from such thinking and is quite open about being fallible and flawed – and inevitably there are issues about which people disagree with him. But there are some things that are simply undeniable and that need articulating because he is such a wonderful role-model for us younger Christians:

  • A profound love for God and love for people whatever their backgrounds and nationalities
  • Clear biblical convictions combined with a wide generosity of spirit (especially to those with whom he disagrees)
  • Academic and scholarly rigour combined with pastoral sensitivity
  • An enviable crystal clarity of thought coupled with the ability to communicate engagingly and relevantly (and often with remarkable precision and brevity)
  • A teachability and hunger to learn (which is still present) coupled by a fascination and love for a huge breadth of interests (not just birds!)
  • A seriousness about the things that matter but a twinkle in the eye when humour is required to deflate the puffed up or the intense. In fact only last week he described me as an ‘ignorant fool’ for having the temerity to describe all gulls as ‘seagulls’ in a sermon and for not being able to discern which are the ones that we can hear from our central London home every morning.

During our time in Uganda, it was clear John Stott was still hugely influential even there. In fact, he is regarded as one of the most influential Christian leaders in Africa in the 20th Century – despite never actually having lived anywhere outside W1, London (unless you count boarding schools and university)! As a result of his international travel and personal friendships, his speaking and writing, he truly has a global family – which is why he is universally known as Uncle John – a way of showing respect in many countries while also showing huge affection and friendship.


This photo was taken in 2003 (at High Leigh conference centre) at a consultation for those involved in setting up Langham Preaching conferences around the world. I was there almost by accident really (was back from Uganda for a couple of weeks anyway) – yet it was one of the most extraordinary and special 48 hours i’ve ever experienced. 25 people from India, Lebanon, Egypt, USA, UK, Congo, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Burundi, Philippines, Hong Kong – all of whom owe so much to Uncle John (by his example, encouragement and for many there, through the Langham Scholarship programme enabling them to do PhDs). Now Langham Preaching is operating in many other countries as well, headed up by Jonathan Lamb, far left. (Before anyone comments, I’ve absolutely no idea why i’ve got my eyes closed – it was in February and not exactly bright – ho hum)

stott-living-church.jpgDespite slowing down, he’s not stopped thinking. And last year his wonderful series of Quiet Time notes (Through The Bible Through The Year ) was published, and his 50th Book The Living Church is out any minute! Can’t really say much about it yet because i’ve not read it! But i’ve no doubt that it’s worth a read.

But let me finish by quoting from someone who knows him far better than I do – Timothy Dudley-Smith.

To those who know and meet him, respect and affection go hand in hand. The world-figure is lost in personal friendship, disarming interest, unfeigned humility—and a dash of mischievous humour and charm. By contrast, he thinks of himself, as all Christians should but few of us achieve, as simply a beloved child of a heavenly Father; an unworthy servant of his friend and master, Jesus Christ; a sinner saved by grace to the glory and praise of God. (Who is John Stott? – All Souls Broadsheet – April/May 2001)

I hope and pray I’m like that when i grow up. Happy Birthday Uncle John!


Here are some Links to find out more about him:

John Stott’s Life:

John Stott in the pulpit:

You can download 100s of John Stott’s sermons from the All Souls church website for FREE (though any donations are gratefully received). Click here for Uncle John’s talks and see what you can dig up. There’s a lot to choose from – the recordings go back 40 years to 1966 (when England actually won the World Cup!).

NB You have to register on the site (requiring just an email address and password) before you can download a maximum of 30 a month (to protect our servers). After all, that is still one a day if you stop to think about it!

John Stott in the public eye:

John Stott in print:

  • A Comprehensive Bibliography – Timothy Dudley-Smith’s mammoth reference work for everything he’d written before 1995
  • Timeless Classics – To see a list of some of his key books still in print with his favourite publisher – IVP. Many of these will be read for decades to come. My favourites are:
    • The Cross of Christ
    • The Incomparable Christ
    • Calling Christian Leaders
    • Evangelical Truth
    • 2 Timothy & Ephesians (Bible Speaks Today)

    A fuller list can be found at Langham Partnership’s site

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This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Mark (Not Meynell)

    It’s very sad that he’s leaving All Souls (well, as a regular person there), but yes, understandable. I still haven’t worked up the courage to apologise to him for being very rude to him when I was fifteen. I should probably try to do that at some point.

  2. Robbie Langford

    How lovely to read all this, Mark….address passed on by Jill Bond…thank you for doing it. and THANK YOU dear Uncle John, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY…..may there be many more. THis comes with love and wishes for a blessed new year of your life, from a very hot Sudan.

  3. Tim Vickers

    I would just like to add my best wishes and my heartfelt thanks as a long time member of All Souls, one time staff of LICC and representative of IFES. Uncle John came and spoke to our young graduate leaders last summer in Austria. It was an amazing joy to see such a clear and precise speaker who could interact on such a personal and personable level with people very many years younger than him. Old he may be (congratulations UJ on 86!) but ancient he is far from being! He warmed our hearts and guided our souls and informed our minds. Thank you Uncle John. Greetings from Kiev. With love Tim

  4. Klaas van den Geest

    Since I am a minister within the Free Reformed Churches in the Netherlands I have read a lot of publications of dr. John Stott. Once I had the very great privilege to be present at one of your lectures, in Amsterdam somewhere in the nineties. I would just like to say that your books and work have influenced my ministry in a inestimating way. It is the very most blessing of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Ghost, that you had the opportunity in your life to serve in this grateful way the Holy Church of God and the coming of His Kingdom. May the Lord bless you and give you a gloryful ingoing in his heavenly paradise when your time has come. Enjoy your retirement now!

  5. davegroberts

    Happy Birthday Uncle John… His preaching, writing and thinking have been instrumental in the lives of many people that I have met, and not least of all, myself…

    Its great to see Robbie Langford commenting here as well… We co-led the All Souls International Fellowship team back in the mid ’90s…

    Thank you for this Mark…

    Blessings from the South Coast…

  6. Chulho Han

    Happy Birthday Uncle John! We many Korean Christians have been helped so much by his books. I personally met him when I studied at London Bible College. And IVF(Inter- Varsity) Korea invited him for bible expositor at its national conference in 1993. At that time we were so impressed not only by his preaching but also his humble servant leadership. We enjoyed bird watching together with him traveling different places of Korea. I do pray for his good health, and he may continue to minister people aroud the world through his books in spite of his retirment from public ministry.

  7. Humberto Diniz

    It’s marvelous we can hear the rich preachings from John Stott

  8. Miss J. Whitcombe

    So sorry Uncle John was unable to read the lesson at All Souls’ last Sunday evening because of ill-health. I do trust he will come back to read for us again soon. All Souls’ was his church and base for so many years and many of us there would like to see and welcome our Rector Emeritus back home again!

  9. Norm Nelson

    As one who never had the privilege to meet Dr. Stott, I want to extend my very best wishes and congratulations to him on his 86th birthday. The closest I ever came to meeting Dr. Stott was in a restaurant near Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California one evening when, while I was dining with a friend, he entered the room with two Fuller administrators and sat down at a table next to ours. I wanted so much to greet him, but felt I would be intruding on the group’s privacy, so I remained quiet where I was. I remember his dignified and gracious bearing and felt, as I do now, honored that he has been a spokesman for the gospel, an evangelical in belief, conduct and spirit, and a role model for me and countless others who have been entrusted with a measure of leadership in the global church. Recently I have wanted to interview him for my Compassion Radio program which airs across the U.S., but apparently his health precludes that possibility. Certainly, whenever he speaks on a matter of concern to those in ministry, I listen carefully. Not many in the evangelical church today command my respect in that way, but he does and always will as long as his voice is heard. I am in debt to him, a debt I hope to pay by emulating his faithfulness to Jesus Christ and to the needy world He loves. John Stott . . . BRAVO!

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