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The 25 Most Influential Pastors of the Past 25 Years

By Michael Duduit | Founding Editor of Preaching and Dean of the College of Christian Studies at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. He’s been blessed to hear every one of our 25 “influencers” preach either in person or via recording.
The dominant role of media in the contemporary church is reflected in the influence of Chuck Swindoll, whose "Insight for Living" radio program and countless books have helped a generation of preachers in its understanding of what biblical exposition should look like.

Long-time pastor of First Evangelical Free Church of Fullerton, Calif., Swindoll became President of Dallas Theological Seminary and now serves as Senior Pastor of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas (a suburb of Dallas). His radio program, books and Internet resources continue to influence thousands.

#3 Rick Warren

Rick Warren is a model and guru for today's new generation of preachers and church planters who are seeking to create churches that will reach the unchurched of their own generation. Founder of Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif.—now one of the largest churches in America—he is widely known as author of The Purpose Driven Church (which shaped the views of thousands of pastors about how the church can be changed) and the huge best-seller The Purpose Driven Life.

Warren's most significant influence on today's pastors may be through his creative use of the Internet, including his weekly newsletter that reaches more pastors than any other single publication or Web resource. His own sermons, made available via the Web, have become models for many young pastors in the United States and around the world.

#4 Gardner C. Taylor

A profound influence on the African-American pulpit, Gardner Taylor is a model of eloquence and passion in preaching. He served as Senior Pastor of Brooklyn's Concord Baptist Church of Christ from 1948 to 1990 and is former President of the Progressive National Baptist Convention. Taylor is now retired and living in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Taylor reflects the influence of a leading pastor prior to today's diverse communications era. He served twice as National Radio Preacher for NBC, delivered the 100th Lyman Beecher Lectures on Preaching at Yale and has lectured at many colleges and seminaries. In 1979, Time magazine recognized him as one of the seven best Protestant preachers in the nation and conferred on him the title "Dean of the Nation's Black Preachers." Few black preachers of the past 25 years would have offered a list of great preachers without including Taylor at or near the top of their list.

#5 John MacArthur

Radio has been one of the major media tools used by preachers in the past quarter century, and few have been as influential via this medium as John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, Calif., and teacher on the "Grace to You" program.

Never afraid of controversy, MacArthur has engaged in a variety of theological debates through the years via his speaking and writing. His approach to verse-by-verse exposition has attracted many, and through his media influence and The Master's Seminary, which he established, MacArthur is preparing a new generation of young preachers for ministries focused on biblical exposition.

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