Why have you chosen to write a book about Church unity?
I came back from holiday last year and I felt God had challenged me to write a book on unity because it’s something that's on God’s agenda at the moment. As I began to write it I realised I was really telling my story. If I was serious about unity I had to be prepared to look at what has happened in me personally, what it means for my wife and me, our household, our children. Also looking at the real issues of me working together with women, discovering the breadth of the Church that crosses ethnic divides and how we handle disagreements from a personal perspective.
As the book is coming out I’m feeling vulnerable because there are a number of stories in there that I’ve not told publicly before! But I felt if I were to write this kind of book I had to be prepared to share something of what God has done in me.
When you first joined the alliance, you wanted to build relationships with other Christian leaders. How did you go about doing this?
I spent so much time sitting down and having coffees and meals with the numerous expressions of evangelicalism and I discovered this richness in the ethnic minority Church. A couple of wonderful church leaders spoke to our council and brought a strong challenge to us: If we were serious about unity, it had to be unity that crossed all ethnic divides. It was one of those God-moments.
Coming out of that I spent a great deal of time building relationship with the migrant Church. We estimate 20-25 per cent of evangelicals in the UK come from the migrant Church. We look to ensure the Evangelical Alliance is changing to reflect the ethnic diversity that’s there.
You were one of the organisers of March for Jesus in the 1980s, and you’ve seen other huge events where Christians have historically come together in unity on a large scale – even in stadiums. There seems to be less of that now, doesn’t there?
I think it’s different these days. At a local level there are far more expressions of unity than we were seeing back then. We’re seeing some extraordinary things taking place – it’s often not individual churches doing a food bank or night shelter or debt counselling, but churches collaborating together to do those things. God’s agenda for unity at this moment is something we’ve got to take very seriously.
What’s the main threat to our unity?
It’s easy for us to talk about the human sexuality debate. The danger is that can be the lens through which we view everything. I’m not decrying that, but I think there are bigger things we have to give attention to. There are millions across the UK who need to come to know Jesus and have an opportunity to come into relationship with him. I’m convinced that making Jesus known is the greatest challenge we face in our generation.
To hear the full interview listen to Premier Christian Radio’s The Profile at 4pm on Saturday 1st April (also available as a podcast). One: Unity – A Personal Journey (Monarch) is out now