His father, Sir Arnold Stott, a distinguished physician of secularist outlook, soon took his family to live in Harley Street.
(Family lore had it that John’s first words were “coronary thrombosis”.) John’s mother, who had been brought up a Lutheran, took her children to nearby All Souls church, where the future rector amused himself by dropping paper pellets from the gallery on to the heads of members of the respectable congregation below.
Strong lay leadership at All Souls set him free to become the trainer of others — in particular a new breed of young clergymen who had been influenced by the Christian Unions in their universities and by the Billy Graham Crusades in the 1960s. Stott was in constant demand for the leading of missions and courses in most parts of the English-speaking world, and from 1975 devoted all his time to this.
Both invitations were declined, for by this time Stott was spending much time leading missions in British and American universities — although some questioned the usefulness of the neo-fundamentalist message for university audiences.He believed that a local church should be a primary agency of evangelism, and that all its members should be involved.Guest services were held for the uncommitted; overseas students were given special attention; there was a new ministry to professional groups such as doctors and lawyers; and chaplains were appointed to West End stores.The change came about largely through the inspired leadership of John Stott.He turned his own church, located just a few yards from the headquarters of the BBC, into a showplace for a renewed form of evangelicalism.