Roger T. Forster
|Roger T. Forster|
Roger Forster at Ichthus Leader's Conference 2009, Croydon: sporting customary knitwear.
|Born||Roger Thomas Forster|
1 March 1933
Wood Green, London
|Residence||Forest Hill, London|
|Education||MA from the University of Cambridge, Mathematics and Theology|
|Occupation||Pastor, author, charity worker|
Faith Forster (m. 1965)
Roger Thomas Forster (born 1933) is the leader of Ichthus Christian Fellowship, a neocharismatic Evangelical Christian Church that forms part of the British New Church Movement. In 1965 he married Faith Forster (1941- ) and has three children.
Forster studied Mathematics and Theology at Cambridge University from 1951 to 1954. He was a contemporary of David Watson, Michael Harper, Michael Green and David Sheppard. By the standards of his later evangelical beliefs, he considered his Methodist upbringing to be both liberal and without a clear presentation of the Christian gospel. When he heard an explanation of it by an Anglican bishop (Hugh Gough) at the Christian Union, he decided, "to follow Christ.":18 Three years later,:102 he reported an experience of being baptised in the Spirit which he described as "sine curves of love going through the room.":19 Sider observes that the foundations of later values began to take shape at this point: a commitment to combine evangelical ministry with social action,:19 together with recognition and service to all true people of God, irrespective of church affiliation.
After graduating, he became an officer in the Royal Air Force, serving from 1954 to 1956. On 18 November 1954, he was commissioned in the Education Branch of the RAF as a pilot officer (national service commission). He was promoted to flying officer on 18 November 1955. He transferred to the reserve (national service list) on 5 December 1956, thereby ending his short RAF career.
His radical mindset became evident immediately, as even in the RAF he put into practice the "organic church" ideas of G. H. Lang. He met with others at a pub, a club or a home, circled some chairs and expected everyone to contribute, as he felt the Bible recommended. This successful work led to invitations to preach at churches in the surrounding area; his itinerant evangelistic work began at this point.
From 1956 to 1969 his commitment to evangelism led him to the work of University missions. He had several experiences of seeing small groups set up after an evangelistic campaign; this showed him it was possible to gather converts into the nucleus of a new church. Later he became involved in urban mission. He was associated with the work of Honor Oak Fellowship under the leadership of Theodore Austin-Sparks. Sparks' teaching on organic church life and the work of the cross in the believer made a great impression on Forster.
In September 1974 Forster began Ichthus Christian Fellowship in his front room with 14 people,:22 including Roger and Sue Mitchell. Ichthus began with "elements of Brethren ecclesiology, an acceptance of second blessing theology, a willingness to engage in spiritual warfare, [and] a recognition that the church was big and varied rather than narrow and sectarian." Rather than planting a church to simply give place to the gifts of the Spirit, Ichthus was committed to practical service, on-the-job training, evangelism, overseas mission and service to all, aiming at love for each other as the final evidence of authentic Christianity.
March for Jesus
In 1987 the relationship of Ichthus led by Roger Forster, Pioneer led by Gerald Coates and Youth with a Mission led by Lynn Green - together with worship leader Graham Kendrick - led to March for Jesus, a movement which over the next three years spread across the UK, Europe and North America, and finally across the world. Hundreds of smaller marches emerged in its wake. The songs that form Graham Kendrick's Shine Jesus Shine - the best-selling UK praise and worship album of its era - were written during a time when he was worship leader at Ichthus.
Theologian and author Greg Boyd dedicated his 2007 book The Jesus Legend to Forster, stating that "for fifty years Roger has tirelessly and selflessly served the Kingdom with intellectual brilliance and Christ-like sacrifice."
Books and writing
By Roger T Forster
with Dr Paul Marston
with Graham Kendrick, Gerald Coates and Lynn Green
with Faith Forster
articles, chapters and forewords
About Roger T Forster
- P D Hocken in Stanley M Burgess, Eduard M van der Maas New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements s.v. “Roger T Forster”
- Anthony O'Sullivan "Roger Forster and the Ichthus Christian Fellowship: The Development of a Charismatic Missiology" Pneuma 16 no 2 Fall 1994, 248
- William K Kay Apostolic Networks in Britain: New Ways of Being Church (Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2007) 113
- Sider, Ronald (1996). Bread of Life: Stories of Radical Mission. London: Triangle.
- Hewitt, Brian (1995). Doing a New Thing?. London: Hodder.
- William K Kay Apostolic Networks in Britain: New Ways of Being Church (Milton Keynes; Paternoster, 2007) 111
- "No. 40363". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 December 1954. p. 7366.
- "No. 40636". The London Gazette (Supplement). 18 November 1955. p. 6574.
- "No. 40880". The London Gazette (Supplement). 14 September 1956. p. 5297.
- Christianity Today 5 February 1990, 30
- P D Hocken in Stanley M Burgess, Eduard M van der Maas, Ed van der Maas New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements s.v. “Roger T Forster”
- Andrew Walker Restoring the Kingdom: the Radical Christianity of the House Church Movement 3rd Ed (Guildford: Eagle, 1998) 37
- Gregory A. Boyd The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007) 5
- Forster, Roger "Communicating True Spirituality" Idea (November/December 2008) 34