The history of Langham Partnership
The Langham Partnership is now a global fellowship of three integrated international ministries (Preaching, Literature and Scholars), supported and operated by a growing number of national partners around the world. But its history is more diverse and goes back to the last century.
The ministry begins with John Stott in the UK
In 1969 John Stott founded the Langham Trust to fund scholarships for young evangelical leaders from the Majority World. Recipients would study at British universities, working toward doctorates in biblical and theological fields and then returning to teach in seminaries in their home countries. John Stott’s aim was to strengthen evangelical theological education around the world by enabling seminaries to have highly qualified teachers who were academically able and committed to the truth of the Bible and the gospel. They would be the teachers and models for future pastors of the church.
The name Langham was taken from All Souls Church, Langham Place, London—the church where John Stott was rector (senior pastor) at the time, though the ministry served churches across a wide denominational range, not just the Anglican Communion. Those who received scholarship funding from the Trust became known as Langham Scholars, a worldwide family that has now grown to well over 300. The programme is now known simply as Langham Scholars.
In 1971 John Stott founded the Evangelical Literature Trust (ELT), into which he assigned all the royalties from his extensive writings in order to provide books for students, pastors and theological libraries in the Majority World. Royalties from John Stott’s books still form a substantial portion of the funds deployed by Langham Literature (as the Evangelical Literature Trust is now known). Many hundreds of seminaries around the world have been able to develop adequate libraries only through decades of assistance from ELT.
These two trusts continued as independent charities in the UK for many years with separate boards and administrators. In 2001, the Evangelical Literature Trust and the Langham Trust were joined as a single charity: the Langham Partnership in the UK and Ireland. LP(UKI) has now absorbed and replaced ELT and LT.
The ministry grows internationally
As a result of his wide international ministry, friends of John Stott in other countries wished to support these strategic ministries. In the United States, a group of friends launched the Langham Foundation in 1974, which later took upon itself the name of John Stott Ministries (JSM). Similar groups were started in Canada and Australia. All of them provided funds for literature (ELT) and scholarships (Langham Trust).
In the United States, JSM merged with the Foundation for Advanced Christian Training (FACT) in 2001 to support a number of doctoral scholars from the Majority World in American and Canadian seminaries. In 2002 another group of Stott’s friends in Hong Kong, which included some former Langham Scholars, formed and registered the Langham Foundation there for the same purpose. In the same year, after John Stott and Chris Wright conducted some biblical preaching training seminars in Latin America, a third Langham programme was added to Scholarsand Literature, namely Langham Preaching. These three programmes remain the core ministry of Langham Partnership. Together they embody John Stott’s vision of equipping the global church to experience growth with depth, by strengthening the ministry of God’s Word, in pulpits, in classrooms and in books.
An international partnership is formed
In 2001 the national organisations in the U.K., United States, Canada and Australia (later joined by Hong Kong), decided to work together as a network with common statements of faith, vision, mission, and values. So the Langham Partnership International (LPI) was formed, under the oversight of the Langham Partnership International Council (LPIC). In the same year, Chris Wright was appointed as International Ministries Director to take over leadership of the overall combined vision and ministry from John Stott. His task was to provide coordination between the executives of the national bodies and the directors of the three international programmes, and to foster the integrated growth of the whole movement.
In 2002, the five national organizations signed a Protocol for mutual cooperation in support of the three international programmes. The Protocol defines their common purpose and convictions, and commits them to working together in supporting and delivering the three programmes. Langham Partnership New Zealand was launched in 2007 through collaboration with Leadership Development International, New Zealand. The combined organisation in New Zealand is known as LeaDev-Langham.
Shortly before his death in July 2011, John Stott had requested that John Stott Ministries – the then constituent national member of Langham Partnership in the United States – should cease to use his name beyond his death, but rather revert to their original Langham name. The JSM Board made this change to Langham Partnership (USA), with the result that all Langham entities around the world now share the same name.
The partnership expands around the world
The decade and a half following the amalgamation of LPI saw remarkable expansion, under God’s blessing, in all three programmes. Langham Preaching, particularly, under the initial leadership of Jonathan Lamb, and then Paul Windsor, grew from the initial two countries in 2001 to having launched indigenously led movements for biblical preaching in some 70 countries around the world. Langham Literature, under the leadership of Pieter Kwant, not only continued distributing evangelical books to hundreds of seminaries and thousands of pastors, but also fostered the development of indigenous publishers in challenging countries and launched plans for the ground-breaking one volume commentaries on the whole Bible in every major continental region, plans that are bearing rich fruit in some amazing publications. And Langham Scholars (under the successive leadership of Meritt Sawyer, Steve Hardy and Riad Kassis), are not only multiplying their influence in biblically faithful theological education in the majority world, but are spearheading increased visibility for majority world evangelical scholarship in the western theological academic circles as well, particularly through their writings and the nurturing influence of the annual month long International Research and Training Seminar.
In 2004, after a wide-ranging survey, the decision was taken to support Langham Scholars doing their PhDs in high quality doctoral programmes not only in the west but also in the majority world itself, often in institutions where the presence of graduated Langham Scholars on faculty has raised the academic standards of seminaries to the required level for such development. In close partnership with the International Council for Evangelical Theological Education (ICETE), Langham encouraged Ian Shaw, Associate Director for Langham Scholars, to offer consultancy to several seminaries in their progress towards offering quality doctoral programmes. Between 2012 and 2018, Riad Kassis served jointly as Programme Director for Langham Scholars and International Director for ICETE, further enhancing the partnership between both organizations and their global influence. For several years now, the proportion of current Scholars being supported in their doctoral studies in majority world institutions is approximately 60%.
Between 2004 and 2008, Langham convened multiple Regional Councils and consultations in most of the major continental regions of the world. These were invaluable occasions of listening to our partners in the majority world churches, such as: church and denominational leaders, evangelical publishers and authors, and heads of institutions of theological education. The information gleaned and relationships formed have strengthened Langham’s bonds of fellowship across the globe, and helped to shape the strategic planning of all three programmes.
Increase in management and leadership
In 2012, the International Council, recognising the growth of the organisation, authorised an increase in its management and leadership. Chris Wright’s job was split with the appointment of Mark Hunt as Executive Director, while Chris continued in his more ambassadorial and writing role. Later a Chief Financial Officer helped oversee a major project for a cloud-based global accounting system, combining all six national members and all three programmes. In recent years, the International Council expanded itself to include six individual voting members from around the majority world, alongside the six national member representatives, to reflect the global nature of the Langham family. At the same time, Langham welcomed into membership a growing number of Programme Partners, particularly among the maturing national preaching movements.
Langham has always been keen to continue John Stott’s ability to think and plan strategically, and to respond to carefully researched needs and opportunities.
Since 2015, a Measurement and Evaluation Survey project has been ongoing, conducted annually by an external consultancy and covering all three programmes, to enable Langham to track and verify the impact of its ministries by careful and prolonged research. The results, carefully sifted, collated and reported, provide both encouraging feedback for supporters and donors, and also help the programme managers to make ‘course corrections’ in their overall direction and prioritizing for their work.
John Stott’s vision
In 2013 Langham set about developing a rolling Five-Year Strategic Plan, with ambitious goals and detailed and costed plans for all three programmes and national members. Since 2018 this ongoing plan has been synchronized with a global capital growth campaign, aimed not only at seeking to double Langham’s operations over the coming five years, but to build in sustainability for all three programmes over the next ten after that.
The vision that God gave to John Stott in 1969, to address and rectify what he lamented was a sad reality for the church around the world – namely, ‘growth without depth’ – has grown under God’s blessing and through the generosity of many people around the world into a global fellowship of people committed, like John Stott, to the centrality of the Bible in the life of the church, and the need for churches to be equipped for mission and to be growing to maturity in Christ through the ministry of pastors and leaders who believe and teach and live by the Word of God.