As I sit down to write my last ‘last word’, I do so with a whole mixture of emotions. Over the last 10 years, it has been an enormous privilege to serve the church here in the UK as the general director of the Evangelical Alliance.

When I arrived on the 1 of April (yes, that really was my start date) in 2009, I did so with some trepidation, but also a deep conviction that it was God who had called me to this role. And with that call came a promise of His equipping to fulfil it. It seems highly appropriate that this edition of idea should focus on gospel unity. It’s been the great John 17 prayer of Jesus that has provided a continual focus and challenge for me over the last decade. Jesus, with His close friends, just hours before He goes to the cross, is praying for them (and indeed for us, who would follow them) that they, May be one… so that the world may believe” (John 17:21). Jesus is praying for unity, but a unity which carries with it a missional imperative. It’s a unity for the sake of the gospel.

Way back in 1846, when the Evangelical Alliance was established, it was this prayer that provided a motivational challenge, and for the last 10 years, I have been thankful to God for the numerous expressions of such unity that the Evangelical Alliance has been able to encourage and support: GATHER bringing together more than 130
unity movements in towns and cities across the country; the One People Commission and the South Asian Forum encouraging unity across the ethnic expressions of the evangelical church; and numerous gatherings of senior church, denominational, network and organisation leaders, who have met to build relationships, explore differences, and engage in strategic evangelistic planning. As a member of the Evangelical Alliance, you are a member of a unity movement. But we’re also a gospel movement. We are evangelicals (there’s a clue in the name).

We are about the good news of salvation in Christ Jesus. I hope you’ve noticed the fresh focus on evangelism in recent years. Take, for instance, the development of our Great Commission hub (great​com​mis​sion​.co​.uk), which has provided an amazing one-stop shop’ for all those committed to bringing the gospel to those around them. I certainly sense that there is a far greater openness to spiritual things, and we are hearing week after week of people coming to Christ. Invariably, mission involves churches working collaboratively across a borough, town or city, and as they do, the gospel is being preached and people are responding to it. The Evangelical Alliance recently gathered a room full of ministry leaders who are developing UK-wide evangelistic initiatives for 2020 and beyond. 


It was extremely encouraging to hear their visions and be part of God’s plans to bring Christians together to make Jesus known. Of course, unlike in so many parts of the world, we have remarkable freedoms in the UK to proclaim
the gospel, and these freedoms need to be protected. I’m thankful for the members our advocacy team, who steadfastly speak on our behalf to ministers, MPs and civil servants in the parliaments and assemblies around
the UK. They are our voice, and among other issues they are fighting to ensure the protection of our gospel freedoms.

It was the Speak up resource that this team produced and distributed to more than 80,000 people that was referenced by Theresa May at Prime Minister’s question time. The resource specifically spells out our freedoms, and it encourages us as a Christian community to make the most of them. (You can download a copy of Speak up online at eauk​.org/​w​h​a​t​-​w​e​-​d​o​/​i​n​i​t​i​a​t​i​v​e​s​/​s​p​e​ak-up) The last 10 years have not been without their pains, frustrations and disappointments, too. 

We’ve had to navigate painful discussions around historically orthodox biblical views on human sexuality, and we did not dissuade the government from its decision to redefine marriage. We are currently facing Westminster imposing on the people of Northern Ireland an abortion law, which would be one of the most liberal of any in the world.

We’ve had to navigate disagreements among evangelical Christians and complaints and concerns about churches
and organisations. When we’ve been interviewed in the media or reported in the press, there are times when our views are misrepresented or dismissed. This is part of the day-to-day work that we do, but our prayer is that we will endeavour to do it in a way that follows the example of Jesus, who His close friends described as full of grace
and truth” (John 1:14).

So, what of the future? As the UK faces a time of extraordinary uncertainty, who knows what the next few months or years will hold. We as a church in the UK must regard this as a time of opportunity. We are the hope-filled people”. Our hope is not based on the outcome of Brexit, the success of the British economy, or which Prime Minister or party will govern the UK. As the apostle Paul encouraged us, May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

What a wonderful thought that at this time of uncertainty, we the people of hope might overflow with hope to those who surround us. And what of the future here at the Evangelical Alliance? When Dr Tani Omideyi, chair of our board, phoned me to let me know the unanimous decision of the board to invite Gavin Calver, our director of
mission, to take on the leadership role here at the Evangelical Alliance, I was absolutely delighted, as I was personally convinced that God had called him to this role. 

I’m excited to see where God will take the organisation under Gavin’s leadership, building on what has been achieved over the last 10 years, but taking it further and deeper. The Evangelical Alliance, led by Gavin and
supported by an amazing leadership team and board, is in good hands. Let me assure you, while I’m stepping down from the role of general director, I do not regard myself as stepping away. The role of the Evangelical Alliance will become even more important in the years to come. So, please pray for Gavin and the team as they continue to serve the church here in the UK.