Adrian Rogers, Haddon Robinson, Andy Stanley, John Strott and W.A. Criswell were voted as five of the most influential preachers in the United States for the 25-year period stretching from 1985 until 2010, according to Preaching magazine. The magazine listed 25 preachers who were outstanding from behind the pulpit, but conceded there could well be many more influential missionaries and preachers scattered around the world who go unrecognized.
According to Preaching's poll, Adrian Rogers was ranked sixth on the alltime list for that 25-year period. During his 32 years as senior pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, he grew that congregation from 8,000 to 25,000. Noted for having a special gift for expressing Biblical insights, he served three terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention. His "Love Worth Finding" television program still sends his sermons around the world even five years after his earthly life ended.
Rated seventh in the poll was Haddon Robinson whose book "Biblical Preaching", published by Baker, was the most widely used preaching book during the past quarter century. His masterpiece is credited with helping thousands of preachers to prepare "Big Idea Sermons". In 2010, Preaching magazine cited his book as the "most influential book" of the past 25 years in that genre.
Andy Stanley was voted eighth in the poll. He founded Atlanta's North Point Community Church in 1995. For the next 15 years he became a model for the new generation of pastors and preachers across the U.S. He pioneered the way in developing satellite churches and video venues. He began his career as minster to students in his dad Charles Stanley's First Baptist Church of Atlanta. What a great mentor he had.
John Strott is ninth on the list. He resigned his post as rector of All Souls Church in London and authored the impactful book "Between Two Worlds", published by Eerdmans. He is credited widely with being a major influence on our understanding of preaching. By 1985 he had become a huge influence around the world.
W.A. Criswell comes in at 10th on the list, although that may seem low to the many people who heard his sermons in Dallas. The pastor at First Baptist Church of Dallas, he grew the church from 7,800 to 25,000 during his pastorate. At one time during his tenure it was reported as the largest congregation in the world. Billy Graham was a member of that church for 50 years. Rick Warren, who was influenced by Criswell, acclaimed him as the "greatest preacher of the 20th century." He was admired as an exceptional expositor who preached through the books of the Bible.
As Preaching magazine, concedes, there are many pastors around the world who go unrecognized for their great service. Many preachers are bi-vocational, having to hold down a second job to support their families and pay the bills of routine day to day living. Simply because they don't host television shows and preach before huge congregations doesn't mean they are any less committed or dedicated to what they do.
The 25 most influential is also very subjective. One example would be the Charles Stanley and Andy Stanley combo. Even thoough on this list the son was rated above his father, there are no doubt many parishioners of Charles Stanely who would rank him higher. Regardless of whether a person's favorite pastor is where his members think he should be, there is no doubt everyone on the list deserves credit for an exceptional job well done.
The preachers ranked from 11th through 15th will be discussed in an article next week. The top five were listed in last week's article.