In celebration of its 50th anniversary, Christianity Today International has selected the "25 Most Influential Preachers of the Past 50 Years."
This list recognizes and honors the most-influential preachers of the period from 1956 to 2006. The chief criteria in choosing the preachers were the following: evangelical theology; outstanding preaching skills; great influence, particularly through preaching. Thus, the list does not attempt to name the best preachers or the best-known preachers, but the most-influential preachers—evangelical preachers who have significantly affected many others through their preaching.
The names were nominated by respected specialists in preaching. That list was then reviewed and refined by Craig Brian Larson, editor of PreachingToday.com and Preaching Today Audio Series. He is, with Haddon Robinson, general editor of The Art & Craft of Biblical Preaching (Zondervan, 2005).
The names are listed in alphabetical order.W.A. Criswell (1909-2002) served as senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas, for 50 years, and preached more than 4,000 sermons from its pulpit. He received his B.A. from Baylor University, and his Th.M. and Ph.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He was awarded eight honorary doctoral degrees. Dr. Criswell published 54 books, was twice elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention, and was the founder and chancellor of the Criswell College.
Click here to listen to a workshop on the benefits of preaching or to read an article on Criswell's ministry, a sermon on suffering, or an illustration on religious liberty.
Tony Evans is founder and senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas. He received his B.A. from Carver Bible College in 1972, and his Th.M. and Th.D. from Dallas Theological Seminary in 1976 and 1982. He was the first African-American to graduate with a doctoral degree from Dallas Theological Seminary. Dr. Evans has written nearly 30 books. He helped organize and served as vice president of Urban Evangelical Mission. He serves as chaplain for the Dallas Mavericks. He is founder and president of The Urban Alternative, a national organization that seeks to bring about spiritual renewal in urban America through the church. The Urban Alternative radio broadcast, The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, can be heard on over 500 stations daily throughout the U.S. and in over 40 countries worldwide.
Click here to listen to a sermon on God's Christmas Grace (outline), to read an article on Dr. Evans and his son, or to read an illustration on the Holy Spirit.
Billy Graham is founder, evangelist, and chairman of the board of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. A graduate from Florida Bible Institute (now Trinity College) and Wheaton College, Rev. Graham has received numerous awards, including the presidential medal of freedom and the congressional gold medal. Since 1955, he has been listed 47 times as one of the Ten Most Admired Men in the World in the Gallup Poll, more than any other individual in the world. Rev. Graham has written 24 books, including Just As I Am; How to Be Born Again; Angels: God's Secret Agents; and The Jesus Generation. He and his wife, Ruth, have three daughters, two sons, nineteen grandchildren, and numerous great grandchildren. The Grahams make their home in the mountains of North Carolina.
Click here to read an extended biography of Dr. Graham, articles on his leadership and impact with youth (part 1, part 2), or to view a sample of his sermon illustrations.
Jack W. Hayford serves as president of the International Foursquare Churches and as chancellor of The King's College and Seminary. Dr. Hayford is perhaps best known, however, as the founding pastor of The Church On The Way, the First Foursquare Church of Van Nuys, California, a pastorate that began as a "temporary" assignment to shepherd 18 people in 1969 and continued fruitfully for more than three decades as the congregation grew to more than 10,000 members. Dr. Hayford is the author of over 50 books and has composed over 500 songs, including the world-renowned "Majesty."
Click here to listen to his sermons on Communion (outline) and How Preaching and Leading Intersect, to read an article on his ministry, or to view his illustrations.
Bill Hybels is the founding and senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois. He received a bachelor's degree in biblical studies and an honorary doctorate of divinity from Trinity College in Deerfield, Illinois. He has authored 17 books, including Too Busy Not to Pray, Becoming a Contagious Christian, Courageous Leadership, and The Volunteer Revolution. Rev. Hybels serves as chairman of the Willow Creek Association, a fellowship of over 10,500 like-minded churches worldwide. He and his wife, Lynne, are the parents of two grown children.
Click here to listen to his sermons on prayer and God's impartiality, to read his sermons on suffering and Christianity 101, or to view a sample of his illustrations.
John MacArthur has been the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, since 1969. He graduated from Talbot Theological Seminary in 1964. Rev. MacArthur is president of The Master's College, and founder and president of The Master's Seminary. He is also president and featured teacher for Grace to You radio ministry. Rev. MacArthur has written more than 12 dozen books, including The Gospel According to Jesus. He and his wife, Patricia, live in Southern California and have four grown children and thirteen grandchildren.
Click here to listen to his sermons on confronting sin and reconciliation, to read his interview with Leadership Journal, or to read his article on infant salvation.
Haddon Robinson is the Harold John Ockenga Distinguished Professor of Preaching at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and senior director of the doctor of ministry program. He received a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary, a M.A. from Southern Methodist University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. Rev. Robinson also served as president of Denver Conservative Baptist Seminary for 12 years, and taught homiletics on the faculty of Dallas Theological Seminary for 19 years. He has authored seven books, including Biblical Preaching, has written and edited for several magazines, and writes regularly for Our Daily Bread, a devotional that goes to seven million people each month. Dr. Robinson and his wife, Bonnie, reside in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, and Willow Street, Pennsylvania.
Click here to listen to his workshop on using illustrations (part 1, part 2), to read his sermons on humility and Ecclesiastes, or to read his article on death.
John Stott is president of Lanham Partnership International and its U.S. movement, John Stott Ministries. He attended Trinity College, Cambridge, where he studied modern languages and theology and was elected a senior scholar. He received his doctorate in divinity from Lambeth and an honorary doctorate in divinity from Brunel University. Stott was ordained in 1945 and then served All Souls Church, Langham Place, London, as assistant curate (1945-50), as rector (1950-75), and as rector emeritus since 1975. He conducted missions in universities in Britain, North America, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, and Asia for 25 years. He was director and then president of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity. Rev. Stott has been a central figure in the resurgence of evangelicalism in the Church of England since the Second World War. He has written 41 books, including Basic Christianity, The Cross of Christ, and The Contemporary Christian. For over 30 years he was a chaplain to the Queen.
Click here to listen to his sermon on being Salt and Light (outline), to read articles on his global ministry and basic beliefs, and to view a sample of his sermon illustrations.
Charles (Chuck) Swindoll is pastor of Stonebriar Community Church, in Frisco, Texas. After being honorably discharged from the Marine Corps, Chuck attended Dallas Theological Seminary. He graduated, returned as the seminary's fourth president from 1994-2001, and is currently its chancellor. Rev. Swindoll has authored over 65 books and has been recognized by the Evangelical Press Association for his lifetime achievement in effective writing. He also serves as Bible teacher and chairman of the board for Insight for Living. Chuck has been married to Cynthia since 1955; they have four adult children and ten grandchildren.
Click here to listen to his sermons on faith and gratitude (outline), to read his article on simplicity, and to view a sample of his sermon illustrations.
Rick Warren is pastor of Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, California. Warren holds a B.A. from California Baptist College, an M.Div. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. He is author of The Purpose Driven Church and The Purpose Driven Life, which topped the New York Times Bestseller List for nonfiction for over 141 weeks. He also leads Purpose Driven Church seminars. Warren is currently working in Rwanda to harness businesspeople, politicians, and pastors against the nation's biggest social problems. Warren and his wife, Kay, live in Orange County, California, with their three children.
Click here to listen to his workshop on communicating to change lives (part 1, part 2), to read an article on his everyman status, and to see a sample of his illustrations.
Honorable MentionsE.K. Bailey (1946-2003) was founder and senior pastor of the Concord Missionary Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. He received his B.A. in Religion from Bishop College in 1969 and graduated from United Theological Seminary in 1991. Throughout his ministry, he was awarded with honorary doctorates from Dallas Baptist University and the Criswell College. Dr. Bailey served as board chairman for the World Christian Training Center, vice president of H.I.S. Bridge Builders in Dallas, Texas, and was the founder and president of E.K. Bailey Ministries, Inc. He wrote Confessions of an Ex-Crossmaker and was coauthor of Preaching in Black and White.
Click here to listen to his sermons on transformation and God's love, or to read an article about ending your sermons.
Donald Barnhouse (1895-1960) graduated from Biola University and studied at Princeton Theological Seminary, the University of Grenoble, in France, the University of Chicago, and the University of Pennsylvania. For 33 years, he served as the senior pastor of the historic Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. One of the pioneers of radio preaching, Barnhouse began a radio program called The Bible Study Hour in 1928, which continues to air today as Dr. Barnhouse and the Bible. Known for his colorful illustrations of living the Christian life, he authored more than a dozen books, including Teaching the Word of Truth and Let Me Illustrate.
Click here to listen to his sermon on God's sovereignty, or read his devotional thoughts on Choosing Sides and Psalm 23.
James Boice (1938-2000) received an A.B. from Harvard University, a B.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary, and a D.Theol. from the University of Basel, Switzerland. For over 30 years, he served as senior minister of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and delivered a continuation of Donald Barnhouse's radio program, The Bible Study Hour. Dr. Boice was also chairman of the International Council of Biblical Inerrancy and served as president of Evangelical Ministries, Inc. He authored a collection of hymns and published over 50 books, including The Parables of Jesus and a 4-volume commentary on Romans.
Click here to listen to his sermon on death (outline) or his workshop called Preaching with Authority.
Jill Briscoe and her husband, Stuart, currently serve as ministers-at-large of Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin. Jill has an active speaking and writing ministry that has taken her to many countries, and she is currently a board member of World Relief and Christianity Today, Intl. She is also the executive editor of Just Between Us, a magazine of encouragement for ministry wives and other women in leadership. Along with her husband and son, Peter, she operates a daily radio broadcast through Telling the Truth media ministries. Jill has written over 40 books, including study guides, devotional material, poetry, and children's books.
Click here to listen to her sermons on loving God (outline) and biblical submission, or to view a sample of Jill's sermon illustrations.
Tony Campolo is professor emeritus of Sociology at Eastern University, and associate pastor of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Philadelphia. He is a graduate of Eastern College, and earned a Ph.D. from Temple University. As founder and president of the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education, Dr. Campolo has worked to create, nurture, and support programs for at-risk children in cities across North America. He has appeared on Nightline, Crossfire, and Larry King Live, and currently hosts a radio program in England called From Across the Pond. He has written 32 books, including Speaking My Mind and Which Jesus. He and his wife, Peggy, have two grown children and four grandchildren.
Click here to listen to his sermons on The Year of Jubilee (outline) and becoming childlike (outline), to read an article called Campolo and Clinton, or to view a sample of Tony's sermon illustrations.
Charles Colson is founder and chairman of Prison Fellowship, the world's largest outreach to prisoners and their families. He graduated from Brown University in 1953 and received his J.D. from George Washington University. His autobiography, Born Again, chronicles his time as special counsel to President Richard Nixon, in addition to his subsequent conversion, incarceration, and promise to remember those he left behind in prison. Colson received the distinguished Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion and the Others Award from the Salvation Army. He has written over 30 books and is the commentator for BreakPoint, a nationally syndicated radio program.
Click here to listen to The Gravy Train Gospel (outline), to read his articles on bioethics and Machiavellian morality, and to view a sample of his illustrations.
Anne Graham-Lotz is the founder of AnGeL Ministries, a non-profit corporation dedicated to biblical exposition through speaking engagements, tapes, and books. She has received honorary doctorates from Kings College, Houghton College, and Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and currently serves on the board of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. Anne has passionately proclaimed God's word around the world for over 29 years, and launched the Just Give Me Jesus revival ministry in 2000. She has won three Gold Medallion Awards for her writing, and recently published My Jesus Is … Everything.
Click here to listen to an interview with Anne on Preaching for Revival (transcript), to read about her emergence into ministry, or to read her Faith Matters column.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) served as senior minister of Westminster Chapel, London, from 1943-1968. Trained in medicine at the distinguished St. Bartholomew's Hospital, Llyod-Jones achieved membership in the Royal College of Physicians-at the age of 26-before obeying God's call to pastor the Foreward Movement Church in Aberavon, England. "The Doctor," as he was called, helped lead the Evangelical movement through World War II, and served as president of the Inter Varsity Fellowship. His writings have been compiled into more than 20 books, including The Kingdom of God and Authentic Christianity.
Click here to read articles on his wartime leadership and being content, and to view a sample of his sermon illustrations.
James Earl Massey received his D.Div. from Asbury Theological Seminary in 1972 and holds seven honorary degrees from institutions like Ashland Theological Seminary and Huntington College. He is founder and pastor emeritus of the Metropolitan Church of God in Detroit, Michigan, and served as an international radio speaker for the Church of God's weekly program, Christian Brotherhood Hour. Dr. Massey is also dean emeritus and distinguished professor-at-large of the Anderson School of Theology. As an international speaker, he has been an avid spokesperson for reconciliation and Christian unity, and has written over 25 books.
Click here to listen to his sermon on the centrality of Christ (outline), his article on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and to read his illustration on forgiveness.
Harold John Ockenga (1905-1985) was a graduate of Taylor University and Westminster Theological Seminary, and earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh in 1939. He was the senior pastor of Park Street Church in Boston, Massachusetts, for over 30 years, and for over 50 years he was one of the most trusted voices in Evangelicalism. During that time, he served as founder and president of the National Association of Evangelicals for United Action; president, co-founder, and board chairman of Fuller Theological Seminary; and founding president of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He also wrote 15 books, including Our Evangelical Faith.
Click here for a more detailed description of the man, for an article on his place in Evangelical history, and a look at Our Evangelical Faith.
Luis Palau has preached a message of hope and inspiration to an estimated 20 million people in 70 countries. He completed his graduate degree at Multnomah School of the Bible in 1961, and has received four honorary doctorates from institutions including Wheaton College Graduate School and Talbot Theological Seminary. Palau has served as president of OC International and is founder of the Luis Palau Association. His radio programs are broadcast on over 2,100 stations, and he has written nearly 50 books, including High Definition Life. Palau currently lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife, Pat, and has four sons and ten grandchildren.
Click here to listen to a sermon on missions (outline), to read his article on evangelism, and to view a sample of his sermon illustrations.
John Piper has been the senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, since 1980. He earned degrees from Wheaton College and Fuller Theological Seminary before completing his doctoral work in New Testament Studies at the University of Munich, West Germany. Piper served as associate professor of Biblical Studies at Bethel College before receiving the call to preach, and he can be heard daily on his radio broadcast, Desiring God. He has written over 30 books, including The Pleasures of God and Sex and the Supremacy of Christ. John and his wife, Nol, have five children and an increasing number of grandchildren.
Click here to listen to his sermons on God's Self-glorification (outline) and sacrificial service, to read his sermon on persecution, and to view a sample of his illustrations.
Chuck Smith has served as the senior pastor for Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa since 1965. He is the founder of the Calvary Church movement, a fellowship of approximately 1,200 churches across the country, and can be heard daily on his radio broadcast, The Word for Today. Over the years, his visionary leadership has helped a variety of ministries come into existence, including Maranatha Music, Hope for the Children International, and Calvary Chapel Bible College. He is the author of Effective Prayer Life and The Word for Today Bible. Chuck and his wife, Kay, have four children.
Click here to read his articles on nurturing youth and Calvary Chapel, and an article on the Jesus Movement.
Charles Stanley has been the senior pastor of First Baptist Church Atlanta since 1971. He graduated from Southwest Theological Seminary before earning his masters and doctorate of Theology from Luther Rice Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia. A leader in broadcast ministry, Dr. Stanley founded InTouch Ministries in 1982, and was inducted into the National Religious Broadcaster's Hall of Fame in 1988. Today, his InTouch program is broadcast around the world through radio and TV. He served two terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, and has written over 45 books, including The Blessing of Brokenness and When Tragedy Strikes.
Click here to read his biographical sketch, advice on fighting evil, and his illustration on the relationship between grace and peace.
Gardner Taylor served as the senior pastor of Concord Baptist Church of Christ in Harlem, New York, for 42 years. He graduated from the Oberlin Graduate School of Theology in 1940, and worked alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Civil Rights movement. He is founder of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, and has taught at several influential divinity schools, including Harvard and Yale. In 1980, Time magazine called him "the dean of the nation's black preachers," and he was awarded the Medal of Freedom—the U.S. government's highest civilian award-in 2000.
Click here to listen to his sermons on Jesus' humiliation and Psalm 23 (outline), to read his article on the inner-city pastor, and to view his illustration on renewal.
The Art & Craft of Biblical Preaching : A Comprehensive Resource for Today's Communicators
Eds. Haddon Robinson & Craig Brian Larson