Lifeway poll reveals top 10 most influential pastors in America today

When I was growing up in the 1980s, the American faith landscape was dominated by televangelists like Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell and Jimmy Swaggart.

Pastor Rick Warren

Pastor Rick Warren

As the decade wound down, scandals would touch Swaggart, Jim Bakker and others. But the preachers on television seemed to hold the most influence over the country’s faith leanings. Of course, Graham and Pat Robertson and others realized they could influence the political system as well by lobbying for their issues.

Today, our channels of communication are much more varied. We have Twitter and Facebook and apps and television and the old reliable printed word.

As a result, I think the American faith landscape is far more fragmented. It’s not an easy for a pastor to break through and achieve widespread influence. Yes, Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer are megapastors, but I consider them as much inspirational speakers and life coaches as I do traditional pastors.

Behind the scenes, of course, there are pastors whose writings and speaking appearances are highly influential in the faith world. So who are they?

Lifeway Research recently asked pastors who was influencing them. Their top ten list included:

Charles Stanley, senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Atlanta, and founder of In Touch Ministries.

Rick Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and author of the best-selling book, “The Purpose-Driven Life.”

John MacArthur, pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, Calif., and president and featured teacher of the Grace to You ministry.

Barbara Brown Taylor, religion teacher at Piedmont College in northeast Georgia and author of 12 books including “An Altar in the World.”

David Jeremiah, founder of Turning Point Radio and Television Ministries and senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in San Diego County, Calif.

Max Lucado, minister of writing and preaching at the Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, and the recipient of three Christian Book of the Year awards.

John Piper, pastor for preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis and author of more than 30 books, including “Desiring God.”

Andy Stanley, senior pastor of North Point Community Church, Buckhead Church, and Browns Bridge Community Church – all in the Atlanta area – and founder of North Point Ministries

What pastor influences you most on a daily basis?

About John Hilton

I grew up in Susquehanna County, Pa. and graduated Syracuse University with a dual degree in journalism/political science in 1998. After working for nearly three years for a weekly paper in upstate New York, I came to southcentral Pennsylvania. I spent 13 years as a reporter and editor for The Sentinel in Carlisle and joined the York Daily Record as religion reporter in September 2011.
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One Response to Lifeway poll reveals top 10 most influential pastors in America today

  1. I liked your article in the 10/24 papeer this morning.

    In the 1960′s I was influenced in a positive fashion by local pastors in our UCC in Lancaster, PA—especially George Bach from Salem Heller’s UCC in Leola. There were others whose faith and practice turned me away from some of the more strictly conservative churches in that area in the 1960′s. Now I lean toward teachers, writers and poets; Thomas Merton, Mary Oliver, Chris Wiman, Eugene Peterson, and of course my husband a former Jesuit. Also I’m pleased to notice my heart moving toward the reconciling of the Church toward the unity Jesus calls forth in us. I want to be part of that moving.

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