John Chapman, Mark Twain and the Twenty Minute Sermon

David MansfieldJohn Chapman and Mark Twain both had much and little in common.

Both were great communicators and raconteurs with a razor-sharp wit. But Chappo loved his golf while Twain is thought to have said that golf was a good walk ruined. Chappo’s spirituality was biblical and evangelical. Twain’s was anything but.

However, when it came to preaching, they had something very much in common. They had little patience for preaching that was unnecessarily long – or even longer than twenty minutes. …”

– At, David Mansfield would love to hear better preaching.

‘What’s really important’ by John Chapman

Each month the ACL will feature one article from our archives.

The landscape of Sydney has changed drastically since the ACL was formed over 100 years ago, however the core business of Christian ministry remains the same. We hope these articles ‘from the vault’ will encourage and strengthen your faith and ministry.

This first one is written by John Chapman at a time when he sensed local churches may relax their urgency in evangelism.


John Chapman

With the Gospel, there is never time to relax.

I have just returned from the funeral of a friend who was also a clergyman. He is, in every way, Mr. Valiant-for-Truth. He preached with clarity and passion about the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

He urged people to ‘turn to God from idols to serve the living and true God and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the coming wrath’.

He could be trusted to do this whenever you heard him. However, he also worked hard for the defence of that gospel. He was determined that he would take whatever steps were necessary to see that the gospel was available when another generation came along.

As I thought about his life and witness, I thought about the ACL. Its members are dedicated to see that, to the best of their ability, the gospel will be known and passed on to generations yet to come.

Much of the League’s work could be described as ‘behind the scenes’ work. They help us by finding committed Christians, who know and understand the gospel, to serve on the many councils and committees which comprise the working groups in our Diocesan life.

Have you ever noticed, as you have read the messages which the Glorified Christ gives to the Seven Churches in the Revelation, that by the close of the Apostolic Age many of them have lost or forgotten the gospel message? Some are on the brink of extinction. Some are warned by the Risen Christ that if they do not repent they will be abandoned by Him! It is an easy thing to ‘let the gospel slip through our fingers’.

We are in a period of change. Peter Jensen has become our Archbishop. The ACL has a new President, Zac Veron. This is a time to recommit ourselves to the preaching and preservation of the gospel.

From a denominational point of view we may be happy and have a feeling that ‘all is well’. However it is to the world around us that we need to look.

We need, as never before, to be trying with every means at our disposal to get the gospel out to our city and country. At a time when God has brought the nations to us, our opportunities seem limitless.

There never was a time when gospelling was more important. Freedom of speech and freedom to assemble, unknown in many countries of the world, we take for granted. Do not assume that this will last. It is a great privilege and carries with it a great responsibility.

Nothing matters more than that a person should come to know Christ!

John C Chapman.

ACL News October-November 2001Published in ACL News, October–November 2001.

John Chapman, 1930-2012, was one of Australia’s best-known and loved evangelists.

He was also a long-serving member of the ACL’s Council.

Majoring on the majors: Phillip Jensen on John Chapman

chappo-1980-sueu“God gives different gifts to different people. The important thing is not the gifts we’re given, but what we do with them. Being a godly man, Chappo always used his gifts for the gospel, and always for other people. He could have used them for himself, but he never did. That was his godliness on display. …”

– Phillip Jensen remembers John Chapman. He touches on a good deal of recent history, in both Sydney and Armidale. Edifying and interesting.

Related: John’s interview for AFES in 2012.

John Chapman classic audio

In July 1979, John Chapman spoke at a one-off evangelistic meeting for the Sydney University Evangelical Union. His topic was “Jesus Claims to be the Only Way to God”.

John had a heavy cold, but that didn’t stop him preaching Christ with his characteristic clarity and humour.

Hear his 40 minute talk here (9.7MB mp3 file). The audio quality is poor, but this recording will bring back many memories of a dear brother.

It’s also a great talk to pass on – and there are many road-tested illustrations which you could use yourself! (1980 Photo: AFES.)

John Chapman — a personal reflection from Mark Thompson

Dr Mark Thompson, immediate past President of the Anglican Church League, shares his thoughts about John Chapman –

“We have lost one of the most effective gospel preachers of the last century. God used his preaching to change lives forever.”

Read it here –    Read more

With thanks for John Chapman 1930–2012

Beloved Australian evangelist John Chapman has fallen asleep in Christ at the age of 82.

And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labours, for their deeds follow them!” – Revelation 14:13.

Russell Powell writes at

Sydney’s leading evangelist for more than 50 years, John Chapman, has passed away in hospital at the age of 82.

‘Chappo’, as he was affectionately known, was converted in his teens and became involved in the Anglican Youth Department and later the Department of Evangelism, where he was director for more than 25 years.

His wide preaching, teaching and writing ministry saw him speaking to groups throughout the Sydney diocese, in Australia and overseas, particularly in England where he was a regular visitor.

In later years he passed on his wisdom on evangelism and preaching to generations of ministry trainees and colleges students. He was also prominent in evangelism in universities, particularly during the 1970’s and 80’s.

His books “A Fresh Start”, “Know and Tell the Gospel” sold in the tens of thousands and helped many Sydney Anglicans with personal evangelism and sharing the gospel.

Mr Chapman never married but was at home in many churches across the diocese.  The single quarters at Moore Theological College was named “John Chapman House” in his honour.

Although he had been ill for some time, Chappo received a stream of visitors from around the world during his retirement in Sydney’s south.

In recent weeks, one of his last duties was a project close to his heart, the newly created John Chapman Foundation, established in October to raise money to recruit and train evangelists.

He was admitted to St George Hospital in late October and had been on the critical list for a week.

On Friday 16th November, several close friends visited to read the bible, pray and say their last farewells to a man who was one of the most loved preachers in the Sydney Diocese in second half of the 20th century.

He finally succumbed to multiple organ failure on Friday night.

Archbishop Peter Jensen immediately paid tribute to his longtime friend and colleague.

“Chappo represented the very essence of what our diocese has always stood for and continues to stand for. A strong affirmation of the authority of the Bible, the importance of preaching and an approach to evangelism which made it central while at the same time respecting the intelligence and integrity of the listeners. He was a man of faith like Joshua of old, and he lived out his faith with clear godliness of life”, Dr Jensen said.

“Like many others, Christine and I feel the loss acutely. When I visited him on his last day, he reminded me once more that he prayed for us daily. His support for me personally for over 40 years has been an incalculable blessing.” he said.

Photo from an interview recorded just a few months ago by AFES.

Other tributes will be posted on our home page.

Update: Thanksgiving service details.

Alister Chapman on John Stott

From Oak Hill College in London: “Dr Alister Chapman teaches history at Westmont College in California. Alister has spent the past 10 years studying the teaching and life of John Stott. He recently came to Oak Hill to talk about John Stott’s role as a leader in evangelical Christianity and was interviewed by Peter Sanlon…”

see the 20 minute interview here.

Authentic Ministry: Style or Substance – Preaching 2 Corinthians.

William Taylor is speaking at the John Chapman Preaching Clinic at Moore College on Wednesday 8th February. 

We understand that today is the last day to register at the standard rate.

ACR website updated

acr-june-2016The Australian Church Record’s website has been updated —

Since 1880 The ACR has communicated with its readers via a newspaper, or newspaper-like, medium. With over 2300 issues produced, The ACR has a rich history on paper – a history we now continue online. Not only do we have a new website, we’ve also restructured how our publications fit together. So here’s what’s new from The ACR:

The ACR Online

The ACR Online is the new blog of The ACR. Here you’ll find a regular stream of short, sharp articles by an array of writers. These articles will cover a variety of topics and issues, each aiming to leave you more convicted of the gospel, keener to serve Christ and more confident on how to do so.  In many ways these articles will not be too different from the encouraging and thought-provoking pieces previously found in our newspapers. They will just be more regular!

The ACR Journal

Of course, not everything can be said in a short blog piece. This is where The ACR Journal comes in. Some issues are complex and are best dealt with in more detail. In our journal you’ll find lengthy discussions on relevant and current theological matters within evangelicalism. The ACR Journal will also be used to help inform and educate Sydney Synod members on upcoming Synod meetings.

The ACR Archives

One of the most exciting components of our new website is The ACR Archives. With over 135 years of publication, The ACR has a rich heritage and is an invaluable historical resource. With more than 2300 issues there is a wealth of historical material, such as ordination lists, parish information, and Anglican news, along with thousands of theological articles written by the likes of D. B. Knox, T. C. Hammond, Donald Robinson, Leon Morris, J. I. Packer, Marcus Loane, Graeme Goldsworthy, John Chapman, and many more. We will also be re-releasing many of these articles through The ACR Online via the ‘From the vault’ segment.

In light of these changes, here’s what’s stayed the same …

Check it out here.

Chappo’s legacy lives on with Preaching Clinics

chappo-telling-the-gospels-truth-video-cover-1986John Chapman was a much loved and great evangelist and preacher not only in Sydney but around the world. He was also a champion of engaging expository preaching and the need to train preachers well. He regularly used to say ‘There is nothing in the world like good preaching. Mind you, there is nothing in the world like the opposite either!’ …

The Chapman Preaching Clinics are part of an integrated program to help preachers keep improving from the day they commence preaching until the end of their ministry.” News from Moore College.

(Illustration from a Department of Evangelism videocassette cover, 1986.)

From the Vault

From time to time, we’ll feature a classic article from our archives.

The landscape of Sydney has changed drastically since the ACL was formed over 100 years ago, however the core business of Christian ministry remains the same. We hope these articles ‘from the vault’ will encourage and strengthen your faith and ministry.

December 2015:

‘What’s really important’ by John Chapman.
(ACL News, October–November 2001).

January 2016:

‘Are we stronger the He?’ by David Short.
(ACL News, January–February 2005).

February 2016:

‘Win, Build, Send’ by Kim Hawtrey.
(ACL News, April–May 2002.)

March 2016:

Evangelical Ministry & Global Strategy.
(ACL News, December 2009.)

August 2016:

Evangelical Religion – by Bishop J.C. Ryle

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