John Stott, one of the most famous evangelical preachers of the 20th century, died this summer. His preaching and writing serve as a model for pastor-theologians all over the globe. Albert Mohler, now President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, interviewed Stott in 1987. The interview, Between Two Worlds: An Interview with John R. W. Stott, was published in Preaching magazine.
The following is one excerpt from the article. Mohler asked Stott what his advice would be to American pastors:
We Belong in a Study, Not an Office
Mohler: You are probably as well known in America as in England. Furthermore, you know America — its churches and its preachers. What would be your word to the Servants of the Word on this side of the Atlantic?
Stott: I think my main word to American preachers is, as Stephen Olford has often said, that we belong in a study, not in an office. The symbol of our ministry is a Bible — not a telephone. We are ministers of the Word, not administrators, and we need to relearn the question of priority in every generation.
The Apostles were in danger of being diverted from the ministry to which they had been called by Jesus — the ministry of Word and prayer. They were almost diverted into a social ministry for squabbling widows.
Now both are important, and both are ministries, but the Apostles had been called to the ministry of the Word and not the ministry of tables. They had to delegate the ministry of the tables to other servants. We are not Apostles, but there is the work of teaching that has come to us in the unfolding of the apostolic message of the New Testament. This is our priority as pastors and preachers.
Jesus preached to the crowds, to the group, and to the individual. He had the masses, the disciples, and individuals coming to Him. He preached to crowds, taught the disciples, and counseled individuals. We must also have this focus. It is all in the ministry of the Word.