Get inside the mind of a great preacher and teacher.
Like many pastors, the great British evangelical leader John Stott was always looking for illustrations and quotations to include in his sermons and writings. Beginning in the 1940s and continuing until the early 2000s, when he came across something he thought he could use, he captured it on a note card, labeled it according to topic, and filed it away in his study. When he used it in a sermon or book, he made note of it on the card.
After his death in 2011, these note cards were scanned and transcribed. Editor Mark Meynell, who worked at All Souls Langham Place with Stott, has selected the best of them to include in The Preacher’s Notebook. Here we see Stott’s fruitful and disciplined mind on display in over a thousand stories, quotations, excerpts from letters, book summaries, statistics, prayers, and outlines for talks on various subjects. Arranged topically, it is easy for readers to find material on a particular subject.
Whether you are a preacher or writer looking for a good idea, or an admirer of Stott who enjoys reading anything he writes, you’ll find something in The Preacher’s Notebook.
A selection of John Stott’s illustrations and prayers have been collected in a paperback edition: Pages from a Preacher’s Notebook: Wisdom and Prayers from the Pen of John Stott.
“Stott’s was a clarity that was hard won. As any teacher knows, clear communication requires deep levels of comprehension. This takes time and thought. It demands careful attention to alternative interpretations, controversies, and complexities.” (source)
“But these illustrations were always secondary to the primacy of expounding the biblical text. If they did not serve that purpose, they had no place in a sermon.” (source)
“Stott’s sermons never sacrificed clarity for levity.” (source)
“He noted that Stott had received a complaint about his 1966 commentary in the Bible Speaks Today series, Men Made New (on Romans 5–8), for writing a ‘book like a house with no windows.’ In other words, it had no illustrations. But Piper counters the complaint. Stott, he insists, ‘turned the words of Bible sentences into windows onto glorious reality by explaining them in clear, compelling, complete, fresh, silly-free English sentences.” (source)
“‘Familiarity with the Bible and with its roots in history is the first call on thoughtful men and women who dare to be prepared to make up their minds on first causes and ultimate ends.’” (source)
John Stott (1921–2011) was one of the foremost Christian figures of the twentieth century. He was educated at Cambridge, studying French and theology for a double first, and then training to be an Anglican cleric. He served as rector of All Souls Church, Langham Place, in London for 25 years, where he carried out an effective urban pastoral ministry. He became known worldwide as a preacher, evangelist, and communicator of Scripture.
A leader among evangelicals in Britain, the United States and around the world, Stott was a principal framer of the landmark Lausanne Covenant in 1974. His many books, including Why I Am a Christian, Basic Christianity, Your Mind Matters: The Place of the Mind in the Christian Life, Between Two Worlds: The Challenge of Preaching Today, and The Living Church: Convictions of a Lifelong Pastor, have sold millions of copies around the world, translated into dozens of languages. Stott was honored by Time magazine in 2005 as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World.”
Mark Meynell is associate director (Europe & Caribbean) of Langham Preaching and part-time Whitehall Chaplain for HM Treasury, HMRC & the Cabinet Office. He is an ordained minister in the Church of England, and was previously on the senior ministry team of All Souls Church, Langham Place, London. He also has experience in theological education, having taught at a small seminary in Kampala, Uganda for four years. Mark and his wife, Rachel, have two children.