John Stott’s Final Public Address

JRWS at KeswickClose to the end of his own journey John Stott calls for “incarnational evangelism” as the way to turn the world upside down.

Walking slowly and clutching a sturdy wooden cane, 86 year old Rev. Dr. Stott looks every bit the statesman that, in 2005, Time magazine called “One of the 100 most influential people on the planet today”. Echoing that accolade he also received a CBE in 2006 shortly before completing his 50th, and possibly his last, book “The Living Church” launched in 2007.

Having successfully passed the baton of leadership for the international church growth ministry he founded, the LANGHAM PARTNERSHIP (John Stott Ministries in the U.S.) to the current International Director, the Rev. Dr. Chris Wright; John Stott is now enjoying a well earned retirement in leafy Sussex. However, the opportunity to speak again at the Keswick Convention 2007 was enough to draw out another one of those memorable sermons so many have come to expect from this grand orator.

Walking slowly to the podium, and assisted by his research assistant, Chris Jones, John Stott was met by a standing ovation from a Convention tent filled to overflowing, on this warm summer evening on the 17th of July 2007. He began by thanking those who had introduced him in such glowing terms and then, in typically self-deferential fashion, he smiled and added, “But actually I thought I might be listening to my own obituary”.

John Stott clearly explained that the essence of what God is doing in the church today is the work of transforming His people into the image of His Son. Leading his audience from the past reality of predestination (Romans 8:29) through to the present work of transformation (2 Cor 3:18) and culminating in a glorious future (1 John 3:2) when we will discover that ‘we will be like Christ’.

In vintage Stott style, John took the Keswick Convention along a clear and well crafted journey through the evidence for this central purpose of God – to turn the world upside down by transforming His people into the image of His Son. But, he added, it’s the church’s lack of cooperation with this central purpose of God for His people that has been so damaging to our world.

Incarnational evangelism or entering into other people’s worlds with Christ-likeness, Stott noted, is essential to the church’s walk in the 21st century. However, our evangelistic efforts often lead to failure simply because we fail to look like the Christ we are proclaiming. Quoting John Poulton, Stott noted that, “The most effective preaching comes from those who embody their message. What communicates now are people, not words or ideas but rather personal authenticity, that is, Christ-likeness”.

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Read the transcript of John Stott’s final public address.

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