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Top 25 preachers of last 25 years: 11-15

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When Preaching Magazine created its list of the 25 most influential preachers in the last 25 years in the United States in 2010 it included several pastors in the 11-15 positions who would probably be rated much higher if a poll were taken today. Those five were John Piper, Charles Stanley, Stephen F. Olford, William A. Jones and Bill Hybels. Bearing that in mind the poll was as follows:

11. John Piper has spread a wide net of influence across America as the Pastor of Preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minn. Not only is he an excellent speaker, but he is also an outstanding writer. Piper exhibited his talents for spreading the themes of the Bible when he was interviewed on television by Eric Metaxas. They engaged in an interesting analysis of some key Scriptures.

12. Charles Stanley probably would rate far higher than this slot if any poll was taken today. As Pastor of First Baptist Church of Atlanta, he is a nationally respected pastor whose influence spreads far beyond the borders of Georgia. One of his greatest accomplishments may be the raising of son Andy Stanley who was ranked even higher than his dad in this poll. The author of several well-written books, he moved all the way up to third place in Lifeway's recent survey of most influential living Protestant pastors. His "In Touch" television and radio minisry has reached millions. With a calm, reasoning style of speaking he has no doubt reached millions who are not attracted to the more fiery brand of oratory more common decades ago. A New York Times bestselling author, he was born in the Great Depression in 1932 in Dry Fork, Va. His father Charley died at age 29. Stanley overcame this early adversity based on his faith in God. He bases his ministry on Acts 20:24 which reads as follows: "Life is worth nothing unless I use it for the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus-the work of telling others the Good News about God's mighty kindness and love."

13. Stephen F. Olford trekked all the way from his birthplace in Zambia to the pastorate of Calvary Baptist Church of New York City. Cliff Barrows, who was the song leader for Billy Graham, said, "Stephen Olford left his footprint upon my heart and life, as he has on people around the world. I thank God for this dear man who has impacted Billy's life and my life all these years." The son of British missionary parents in Africa, Olford based his urban ministry on his perceptive expositions of the Bible.

14. William A. Jones was cited by Ebony Magazine as one of the nation's best African-American preachers. He pastored at Bethany Baptist Church in Brooklyn for more than 40 years. He was founder of the National Black Pastors Conference and a past president of the Progressive National Baptist Pastors Conference.

15. Bill Hybels is Founding and Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois. With an average attendance of 24,000 as of 2011, the church has been listed as the most influential church in the United States for several years based on a national survey of pastors. The creator of Global Leadership Summit, he is also an author of several Christian books focusing on leadership. He earned his bachelor's degree in Biblical Studies from Trinity International University close to Chicago and an honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. In the 1970s Hybels was inspired at Trinity when Gilbert Bilezikian challenged the students regarding a church based on Acts 2. This was a turning point in his life as he switched from goals in the business world to the ministry. In 1971 he was the youth pastor at South Park Church in Park Ridge when he started a youth group with friend Dave Holmbo called Son City. The group grew from 25 to 1200 in only three years.

Five more pastors on the most influential list will be discussed in an article next week.

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