The work of Preaching Director Paul Windsor
International Program Director of Langham Preaching, Paul Windsor, first encountered Langham Partnership through the person of John Stott. At the age of 21, he attended an International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES) conference in the USA where John preached on Romans Chapters 1 – 5 to Paul and 17,000 other students.
Paul shares, “It really was a huge moment in my life. As I heard him preach, I recognised God was calling me to a preaching ministry.” After this pivotal moment, Paul took the journey into pastoral ministry, continuing to follow along with the life and work of John Stott, including the development of Langham Partnership.
Becoming Preaching Director
Having grown up on the mission field, as his parents served in South Asia with Interserve, Paul had always fostered a passion for international, Majority World ministry.
After a long career in pastoral ministry, including 20 years in theological education in his home country of New Zealand, Paul felt the pull for a new direction. He reflects, “I was open to what God would have next for me. The combination of being called to preach, being raised on the mission field and being keen to get back involved in cross-cultural work … I became aware of a job that was going in Langham Partnership. It was an Associate Director for the Langham Preaching ministry with a focus on Asia and the South Pacific.”
Paul worked for a few years as an Associate Director, before being appointed to International Program Director of Langham Preaching in 2013.
Paul says, “My role is really trying to support and encourage people like the [regional preaching directors]. I have to do it from New Zealand, which is not easy. It’s an odd time zone and it’s a long way away. There are often times when I feel I should be present for something but can’t be.”
His responsibility is as a leader caring for people. Paul says, “I often think of the three S’s trying to shepherd, serve, and steward those who are responsible to me. As I do that they’re really the ones that carry the work forward.”
The growth of contextual preaching training
For Paul, one of his biggest aims over the years he has worked as Preaching Director has been to build teams. He shares, “I think that we’re made in the image of God and when we learn about the image of God for the first time in the Bible, it talks about how God says ‘let us make humanity in our image’. So there’s a sense in which God is a team, He’s an us and we’re made in that image.”
To this end, Paul sees building teams as instrumental in doing God’s work. He says, “When I started, we started with a global team, which has been meeting for 10 years. And then we started the next layer, the continental leadership teams, and then the next layer, the regional teams, and then they serve the local preaching movement – which is really where the work is happening.”
The team building through those levels have been really important to the on-the-ground work of Langham Preaching. It has been encouraging to Paul, and all involved, to see how those teams are developing under God.
In addition to the building of teams, a crucial element of the preaching ministry as a whole is that it is ‘locally owned’. Paul explains, “It’s really important that the work be indigenous. That it’s locally owned and operated, and not a franchise. It’s not run from outside, but our preaching movements are able to develop in a way that fits their context.”
Behind each movement is the Langham Preaching engine that doesn’t change, but as Paul describes it, the “chassis of the car can change and does change and it’s locally driven.” This is one of the key foundations of Langham Preaching and a core reason it is so impactful throughout the Majority World.
Challenges limiting the spread of preaching movements
Resourcing is one of the key challenges for the global preaching movement. Finances, materials and most especially the resource of people all limit what can be done.
Paul shares, “Obviously if there were greater levels of funding they could do a lot more. But in that, we’re really trying to encourage these preaching movements to be self-sustaining. So it might be a bit slower, but human resources is the big challenge.”
The work of preaching movements are carried forward by two key activities: people meeting in small groups or preaching clubs and practising their preaching and also meeting to be trained through seminars. This is where Langham Preaching is working with a lack of people: there are always more trainers and facilitators needed.
Paul shares, “We want to grow our trainers and equip them and develop them to do the work locally. So that is a big focus at the moment, trying to multiply the number of trainers locally.”
Many potential facilitators exist on the ground throughout the Majority World, but it takes time to grow them through the Langham Preaching training themselves.
God’s work and God’s timing
Within the Langham Preaching team, there is a strong sense that what they are doing is God’s work, and He’ll supply what is needed in His own timing.
Paul says, “Within our team, they sort of laugh at me a little bit because I often say God’s not in a hurry…even when we might be. A lot of the images of growth in the New Testament of the Lord’s work are slow. So I think that really important principle is not to rush things, but to let things grow in God’s way and in God’s time.”