The London Lectures in Contemporary Christianity, inaugurated in 1974 at the initiative of John Stott, were ‘designed to stimulate Christian thinking on some of the burning issues of the day’. The lectures sought to reflect and exemplify the ‘double listening’ – to the word and to the world – for which John became known. Following John’s death in 2011, several bodies close to John’s heart, some founded by him, agreed to seek to honour that legacy of double listening through an annual lecture – The John Stott London Lecture – organised by representatives of All Souls Langham Place, A Rocha, Langham Partnership, and the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.
The vision and values of these four bodies allow for a variety of issues to be addressed in the lectures, representing John’s commitment to the faithful exposition of Scripture in the life of the local church, his concern for global mission and the spiritual maturity of Christian leaders around the world, his compelling and Christlike engagement with issues in contemporary culture, and his call to creation care as bound up with a whole life lived well in response to the grace of God shown in the gospel.
In all these areas, double listening was seen by John as ‘indispensable to Christian discipleship and Christian mission’. It was a way of carefully treading the line between irrelevance to the world on the one hand and accommodation to the world on the other hand. As such, it lay at the heart of his vision of preaching Scripture, training leaders, and making disciples. Our submission to God’s word and our location in God’s world mean that paying attention to both is essential for authentic Christianity.
John expounded the topic of double listening in his books, but he exemplified it in a life of ministry and mentoring, and encouraged others through exposition of the word and exhortation to be salt and light in the world, for God’s own glory.
The lectures aim to reflect these concerns. As well as being stretching and stimulating for a general Christian public, the lectures also involve a combination of engagement from a Christian outlook with particular topics of global and social import, along with an exploration of how the church might be called to live in the light of such issues. The lectures thus provide an opportunity – in line with John’s own concerns – not just to explore topics of current concern from a biblical and theological perspective, but to encourage and equip God’s people to live faithfully and fruitfully as missional disciples of Jesus in their everyday lives.