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Rising From a Glorious Past

"You took a big risk," somebody told me. But it would have been a greater risk to do nothing.
—Roger Standing

Descending the steps from the platform, I sighed in relief. My first Sunday as the heir to a portion of history was over. As I made my way to the door, I again took in my new surroundings. The imposing Victorian preaching house, the three-quarter gallery, the labyrinth of narrow corridors and stone stairwells were daunting. Beyond all that, the 125 years of accumulated evangelical witness was intimidating. Many denominational worthies had preceded me as pastor.

Not the least of my spiritual ancestors was the founder of the church, James Archer Spurgeon, whose china bust looked on stoically while I prayed before the service with church leaders. James Archer was also associate pastor at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, pastored by his more famous brother, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

My first weekend as Spurgeon's heir had been hectic. A welcome service the previous day (complete with a busload ...

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