The Rushmore Report – The 12 Most Effective Preachers in America

A dozen pastors known for their effective preaching have been recognized by Baylor University. These 11 men and one woman were chosen by scholars of homiletics, or the art of preaching, from 800 nominees, as the best English-speaking preachers in the world, based mostly in America. The rankings were the result of much consideration of the many aspects of the art of excellent communication.

“In a world where talk is cheap and there seems to be no end to it, the preacher has to recover the priority and power of the word,” said W. Hulitt Gloer, director of the Kyle Lake Center for Effective Preaching at Baylor’s Truett Theological Seminary in Waco, Texas.

“Words are the tools of the preacher and that gives them incredible power,” Gloer added.

These are those 12 preachers, listed in alphabetical order.

1. Alistair Begg

Begg has been senior pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland since 1983. He is also the Bible teacher on the radio and online program “Truth For Life.” A member of the Council of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, Begg has written numerous books.

The survey also notes, “For ‘outstanding dedication to preaching, church leadership, and evangelism,’ Westminster Theological Seminary bestowed Begg as an honorary doctor of divinity. He also received an honorary doctorate from Cedarville University.

2. Tony Evans

Evans is the founding pastor of Dallas’ Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, which began in his home in 1976 and has grown to a membership of almost 10,000. Evans was the first African-American to earn a doctorate in theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. The radio and television broadcaster has been the chaplain for 30 years for the Dallas Mavericks, a National Basketball Association team.

The survey adds: “He [Evans] is a pastor, speaker, author, radio and television broadcaster.”

3. Joel C. Gregory

Gregory is the George W. Truett Endowed Chair in Preaching and Evangelism at Baylor’s Truett Theological Seminary. A preacher for 50 years, he gave the concluding message at the 2017 Baptist World Congress in Durban, South Africa. He is a member of the Baptist World Alliance Commission on Worship and Spirituality and edited “Baptist Preaching: A Global Anthology.”

4. Timothy Keller

Keller is the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. He also chairs Redeemer City to City, a leadership development organization that starts new churches in urban centers worldwide. Keller is the author of several books, some listed among The New York Times bestsellers.

Christianity Today has noted about Keller: “Fifty years from now, if evangelical Christians are widely known for their love of cities, their commitment to mercy and justice, and their love of their neighbors, Tim Keller will be remembered as a pioneer of the new urban Christians.”

5. Thomas G. Long

Long is an emeritus preaching professor and director of the Early Career Pastoral Leadership Program at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology in Atlanta. His textbook The Witness of Preaching is used in theological schools across the globe. The survey notes, “In 2010, Preaching magazine named The Witness of Preaching as one of the 25 most influential books in preaching for the last 25 years.” He also was named one of the 12 most effective preachers in Baylor University’s 1996 survey.

6. Otis Moss III

Moss is the senior pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. The activist, author and filmmaker is an ordained minister in the Progressive National Baptist Convention and the United Church of Christ. He is on the board of the Christian Century magazine and is a chaplain of the Children’s Defense Fund’s Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.

The survey notes, “Moss has written numerous poems, articles, and books. His work has also been featured on Huffington Post, Urban Cusp, and The Root.”

7. John Piper

Piper is chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary in Minneapolis. The leader of has served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis for 33 years. He is the author of more than 50 books.

According to the survey,  “He [Piper] served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis for 33 years and has authored over 50 books, many of which are best sellers and award winners. Piper has made most of his books freely accessible through his online ministry,”

8. The late Haddon Robinson

Robinson was the former president and Harold John Ockenga Distinguished Professor of Preaching at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Boston. His book Biblical Preaching remains in use in Bible colleges and seminaries worldwide. Robinson, who died on July 22, 2017, was named one of the 12 most effective preachers in Baylor’s 1996 survey.

In 2008, he received the E.K. Bailey “Living Legend Award,” and in 2010, Preaching magazine named him among the “25 Most Influential Preachers of the Past 25 Years.”

9. Andy Stanley

Stanley is the senior pastor of an Atlanta suburban megachurch with six locations. He also is the founder of North Point Ministries, a global network of more than 30 churches. A 2010 survey of U.S. pastors by Outreach Magazine identified Stanley as one of the top 10 most influential living pastors in America.

10. Charles Swindoll

Swindoll is the senior pastor at Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas. The radio preacher is the author of more than 70 books. He was named one of the 12 most effective preachers in Baylor’s 1996 survey. Swindoll, who is most commonly known as “Chuck,” not Charles, was also named Clergyman of the Year by Religious Heritage of America in 1988. He has also been awarded four honorary doctorates for his contributions as a pastor, author, educator, and radio preacher.

11. Barbara Brown Taylor

Taylor, an Episcopal priest, author and theologian, has served as a faculty member at institutions including Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology and the Certificate in Theological Studies program at Arrendale State Prison for Women in Alto, Georgia. In 2014, she was named to Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world. She was named one of the 12 most effective preachers in Baylor’s 1996 survey.

12. Ralph Douglas West

Ralph Douglas West is founder and senior pastor of The Church Without Walls in Houston, which has grown from 32 members to more than 24,000 families. He is an adjunct professor of preaching at Truett Seminary. The radio broadcaster is the author of several books.

“Through publications, television, and the internet, his messages are available across the world and are witnessed by thousands beyond his church each week,” notes the survey.

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