Sandy Millar gives Norwich leadership insights
Former Rector of Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB), and Alpha Course pioneer, Rev Sandy Millar, shared some insights into church leadership and renewal at a lunch for Christian leaders organised by Transforming Norwich last week. Keith Morris reports.
Speaking to around 25 leaders at the lunch at King’s Community Church in Norwich on June 6, Sandy was interviewed by Rev Ian Dyble from St Thomas Norwich and asked him what it was like trying to bring a church into renewal 30 years ago.
“If you are trying to introduce any sort of change into a church you need three things,” said Sandy, who now lives in Aldeburgh, Suffolk.
“You need a theology for it, you need a model for it and you need a practice – you need to do it.
“It starts with theology – you need to feel it in your bones. If you are unclear about the theology you should back off. I was told in the early stages at HTB that if I went on like this I would lose the whole congregation – and that is not a threat you should take lightly.”
Sandy also spoke about his own conversion experience: “I came to faith through a powerful combination of my wife Annette and the Holy Spirit. I was converted at a weekend retreat in Slough.
“Soon after I was prayed for by David Duplessis at the Fountain Trust and was filled with the Holy Spirit so I have never known a non-spirit-filled Christian existence.
“It was perfectly clear to me that the New Testament church was a Pentecostal charismatic church and used the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit and they expected God to show up.”
Sandy also recalled that HTB was hugely helped by American Vineyard church pioneer John Wimber in the 1980s: “John, when he came over in the early years, was a huge supporter of all that sort of ministry.
“When I took over at HTB in 1985, I felt we could no longer go on moving between two traditions of Conservative evangelical and then the charismatic young people. We needed to get young people into the church – that was the key issue for us,” said Sandy.
“John said as soon as you get to the tipping point you need to tell them where you are going.”
Talking about being an effective church leader, Sandy emphasized the importance of having a Sabbath: “You need one day off a week, so every Friday I would go for a walk in Windsor Park and wrestle with the Lord,” he said. “You also need to develop friendships with other Christian leaders – which comes when you are doing things together. John used to say. ‘I love the Catholics, I love the Baptists, I have a love for the whole church’.”
When asked about the current state of the church and society, Sandy said: “What I love is that the good is infinitely better than it was when I started but the bad is infinitely worse – that is the direction the whole world is going, rich and poor, good and bad.
“We should foster and encourage everything that is good in one another. Wherever we see it bless it, speak well of it, rejoice in it. We are not called to succeed we are called to be faithful.
“Anything good that is happening is built on the house of intercession. Get people around your leaders, pray for them, see that they are anointed and send them off because that is the way the work will grow and will keep you out in the front of the field and protected and supported and encouraged.”
The next Transforming Norwich meeting is its AGM, to be held at NCBC on Duke Street on Wed July 25 from 12.30-2pm.
Pictured above is Rev Sandy Millar talking to Rev Ian Dyble at the Transforming Norwich lunch in Norwich.