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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.

#16 Fred Craddock

Fred Craddock may be part of the mainline church, but his writing on inductive preaching has strongly influenced the preaching style of thousands of pastors over the past couple of decades. In addition, Craddock is an engaging and effective preacher and one of the best storytellers anyone ever will hear.

#17 Mark Driscoll

Not only did Driscoll pastor Mars Hill as it grew from zero to megachurch in America's most unchurched city in less than a decade but he also has launched a national network of church planters that is touching cities across the nation. Reformed, emerging and controversial, Driscoll is a model for thousands of young pastors who read his books and listen faithfully to his podcast sermons. Driscoll may well be an example of how preachers will influence other preachers in the 21st century.

#18 Jack Hayford

For 30 years as Pastor of The Church on the Way in Los Angeles, Jack Hayford provided an example of faithful biblical preaching for his fellow Charismatic pastors. Chancellor of The Kings College and Seminary, which he founded, Hayford also is author of more than 50 books and more than 600 hymns and choruses, including the popular song "Majesty."

#19 William Willimon

Now the United Methodist Bishop for North Alabama, William Willimon became widely known among mainline and evangelical pastors as Dean of the Chapel at Duke University. His incisive biblical sermons have influenced many, as have his challenges to his fellow mainline pastors to make sure their preaching is rooted in scriptural truth.

#20 E.K. Bailey

Though most pastors won't know his name, E.K. Bailey was a powerful influence in launching a new birth of expository preaching in the African-American church. Long-time pastor of Concord Missionary Baptist Church in Dallas (until his death in 2003), he started an annual conference that continues to attract hundreds of black pastors each year and gives them the tools to become more effective biblical expositors.

#21 D. James Kennedy

Mike Milton says that "through Coral Ridge Ministries and other media and ministry outlets, Dr. Kennedy became the most listened to Presbyterian minister in history." His Evangelism Explosion movement became a powerful influence for many years on how churches did personal evangelism.

#22 Barbara Brown Taylor

Although she never pastored a megachurch, Barbara Taylor teaches at a small Georgia college and has been a favorite preacher in mainline circles for two decades. This Episcopal priest has written a dozen books, with several popular works on preaching including the publication of her 1997 Lyman Beecher Lectures on Preaching.


#23 Warren Wiersbe

Former pastor of Moody Church and then radio voice of "Back to the Bible," Wiersbe's teaching through countless books—particularly his "Be" series on biblical books—has shaped the biblical understanding and preaching of thousands of pastors. Billy Graham called him "one of the greatest biblical expositors of our generation." Through his books, radio ministry and conferences he has been a pastor to pastors for a generation.

#24 Lloyd John Ogilvie

After 23 years as Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Hollywood, Calif., Ogilvie became Chaplain of the U.S. Senate, a role from which he retired in 2003. Through the 1980s and 90s, his more than 50 books were devoured (and adapted) by preachers in much the same way as books by Swindoll or Lucado are used today. John Huffman says that Ogilvie "has taken seriously the discipline of preaching, extending a solid combination of biblical and relational truth beyond the pulpit into the public arena of the business, entertainment and political world."

#25 Tim Keller

Founding Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City, which has grown to a weekly attendance of more than 5,000, Keller has shown that biblical preaching still can make an impact in a secular urban environment. In addition to his best-selling books, his commitment to church planting has led to more than 100 church plants in cities around the world. Michael Milton wrote: "Tim's preaching was for years under the radar, but not hidden from the influencers in media, the arts and the ‘higher' culture of America from New York City. Now his ministry is flowering, and his preaching—insightful, culturally sensitive and yet strongly expository—has become some of the most listened to sermons in America via iTunes podcasts."

So that's our list. Who did we miss? We'll include a feature at in June on the other names that have been suggested but didn't male our list of 25. Feel free to send along your suggestions; we may add your names to the online list, as well!

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