Who Is : Steve Clifford?
Steve Clifford has been at the forefront of the church across the country for many decades. As a pastor, leader and speaker he tirelessly motivates people to intercede for their local communities through involvement with organisations such as: the Pioneer Network, March For Jesus, Soul In The City, HOPE'08, Spring Harvest and the Evangelical Alliance - to name just a few....
Steve was born in Bradford in 1954. His father was in full time Christian ministry as an Anglican minister, so Steve was brought up to respect and know God from birth. However, tragedy struck early when at just five years old, his father was killed by a drunk driver, leaving his mother to raise her sons alone.
The eldest of two boys, Steve developed a resourcefulness and sense of responsibility which became apparent in his teens, when he was appointed head boy of Grange Boys Grammar School. A keen all-round sportsman, he also played football for Bradford Boys and swam for his city.
He became a Christian at the age of 17, when he took a summer job at Capernwray Hall Christian centre in Lancashire and heard a talk about Jesus:
"I'd heard it all before, I knew the story, but somehow it all made sense in a way that it hadn't done previously," he said. "It was an absolutely pivotal moment of conversion, giving my life to Christ."
Embracing Life and Faith
Steve embraced his faith with a similar gusto as he did sport, and the following year he travelled to Denmark, where he spent a year, among other things, running a café ministry in Copenhagen on one of the first Youth With A Mission (YWAM) projects. When he returned to London to study for a degree in theology at London Bible School (now London School of Theology), where he met his wife, Ann.
After a brief period as a salesman and social worker, Steve embarked on teacher training in 1978. He taught for five years, rising to head of general education at The Feltham School, while contributing to his local church as much as possible. In 1985 he decided to pursue his passion for the church and become a full time Christian worker.
A Pioneer Among Men
Since then, Steve has worked in a variety of church roles, including many, but not exclusively, amongst the Pioneer network of churches. As we go to press he is a member of the leadership team at his local church in West London. As well as preaching and doing hands-on evangelism, youth work, schools work and church planting, Steve created the TIE Team (later to become DNA) discipleship course, which has trained several thousand workers. He also gives advice, training and support to numerous churches around the country.
March for Jesus
"I thought nobody was going to turn up, but all these people arrived - 15,000 of them, in the pouring rain, to pray around London."
In 1987, he was part of a small group of leaders who came up with a vision for a prayer walk around the City of London. Within months of the march stories of insider trading and greed began to merge. "I remember driving into London on the day of the walk, and it was pouring with rain," he said. "I thought nobody was going to turn up, but all these people arrived - 15,000 of them, in the pouring rain, to pray around London." 'The walk' grew into the international March for Jesus movement, with Steve as international chair. By 2000, when the movement officially ended with a millennium walk, an estimated 60 million people had participated in 180 countries. "People from all kinds of backgrounds and all different countries got involved, across all sectors of Christianity," said Steve.
"It was about the church in all its diversity getting out of its buildings and proclaiming Jesus on the streets. It felt like we were just running to catch up with what God was doing."
Soul in the City
In 2003, when he was invited by Mike Pilavachi to chair the leadership team for the two-week Soul in the City project the following year. This event brought 10,000 Christians from outside London, and a further 10,000 from London, together to volunteer round the city for two weeks, doing everything from painting and clearing rubbish to befriending the elderly.
"It was fantastic seeing the church talking about the good news of Jesus Christ, and reflecting that in its actions as well," said Steve. "Both words and actions are vitally important to sharing the gospel. When you look at the life of Jesus, that's what he did."
After Soul in the City completed Steve was asked by Mike to become chair of the leadership team for Soul Survivor. Mike, also a member of the Evangelical Alliance Council, said, "Steve is a man of total integrity who empowers others and has displayed vision and courage in all that we have worked on together. He is much, much more than a team player or a facilitator. He is, in my opinion, a great leader."
Steve's friendship and association with Mike brought him into close contact with Roy Crowne and Andy Hawthorne who dreamed of a mission hearted nation sharing their faith with their friends, family and work colleagues. Steve was invited to be chair of Hope 2008, mobilising churches to demonstrate Christian faith in action and to explain the meaning of that faith in villages, towns and cities throughout the UK. Thousands of churches took part through the year in more than 1500 locations. Hope 2008 was commended by police, government and royalty.
"It was really about the local church," said Steve. "Churches from the same cities who had never worked together before were coming together for the first time. They were working together collaboratively, but really making it their own, so that it would work in their local community."
The Evangelical Alliance
Steve, who has been a long-serving board and council member of the Alliance, took over as general director in April 2009. "I think the Alliance has a unique contribution to make to Britain, speaking up, alongside others, about the kind of society we want to live in," he said.
"We believe the Church is the key to long-lasting change in our country - and that by working closely with our amazing members, we can transform our communities with the good news of Jesus."
Steve was at the helm of the Evangelical Alliance until he announced his retirement in April 2019. Since then he has travelled widely speaking and continuing the work of encouraging the church.
Long may it continue.
Wessex Filling Station
Steve spoke at Wessex Filling Station on 25th May 2017 and the video can be found below: