Favorite Preachers

Here are my top five favorite preachers. Like ever.

I limit the list to those I’ve heard and seen in person and those whose messages have moved and shaped me as a Christian in addition to forming me as a preacher. In almost every case, these speakers have the ability to say things in a way that makes me kick myself: “why didn’t I think of it that way!”

5. Howard Olds. In our first year at Asbury Seminary, Julie and I attended Trinity Hill UMC in Lexington, KY, and sat under Howard’s preaching. He is still the best week-in, week-out preacher I’ve ever heard. He had a magnificent voice and slightly irreverent humor. Howard finished his ministy at Brentwood UMC in Nashville where he battled against cancer for the last several years. He died, too young, in the summer of 2008.

4. Tony Evans. Promise Keepers. Atlanta. 1995. He brought down the Georgia Dome — and the 68,000 men in it — with a clarion call to multi-racial ministry. Some of what has happened at Good Shepherd is the result of that sermon on that day. Funny, biblical, passionate.

3. Erwin McManus. Erwin McManus is the founding pastor of Mosaic Church in Los Angeles. He is also brilliant, slightly ADD, and very funny. He has designed a ministry that maximizes the arts to reach those disaffected with religion in general and Christianity in particular.

2. Chuck Swindoll. When I was pastoring in Monroe, I soaked up both his books and his radio ministry. His way of breaking down a passage and a subject influenced me for many years. And his voice . . . man, it’s like God himself is speaking to you with kindness and fire all rolled together.

1. Andy Stanley. No contest. He’s always speaking right to me. How does he do it? Because I’m sure he speaks directly to the 20,000 people who hear him at Atlanta’s North Point Church each week as well. He gives fresh insights into familiar passages, applies those insights into life’s hilarity and tragedy, and distills it all into the brilliance of the one-point sermon. All while sitting down. How’d he get so smart?

With most of these proclaimers, a Google search will also yield a YouTube link. Well worth it in each case.