Famous Pastors in the World

Pastors are a very crucial figure in the world. They help their flock in following the teachings of their faiths and religions. Many are well known across the world, not just because they are pastors, but because of their great works around the world. These pastors also show to others how to be humble and work for a greater cause that could benefit many lives. Here is a list of Famous Pastors in the World of high repute in the world today. Including famous preachers of the 21st century and 10 dangerously powerful pastors in the world.

Some pastors are famous for their work within the Christian community as a whole, while others are only well-known within a certain segment of Christianity. For example, many modern pastors are known for their work in televangelism, where they broadcast their sermons on TV or radio. On the other end of the spectrum, some pastors keep their messages limited to short sermons in front of an audience every Sunday—but manage to reach so many people with their words that they become famous anyway.

Pastors are those who are clothed with authority in the church. They hold the ranking second only to apostles. From the moment they are called, they are instantly given authority by God over all demons and lost people. Because of this, it is vital that we identify some of the more famous pastors in history so as to learn from their lives, abilities and characteristics.

Right here on Churchgists, you are privy to a litany of relevant information on famous preachers of the 21st century, famous pastors today, top 10 preachers to avoid, and so much more. Take out time to visit our Website for more information on similar topics.

Famous Pastors in the World

You might be surprised at how many pastors are household names! The world’s most famous pastors and teachers include Billy Graham, Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, TD Jakes, and Creflo Dollar.

Each of these men has had a profound impact on the lives of Christians around the world. They are known for their ability to communicate in an understandable way, connect with people’s real-life struggles, and provide guidance and encouragement through the messages they deliver.

  • Joel Osteen The Rev. Dr. Joel Osteen is a pastor, author and is the senior pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. He is also a motivational speaker, television host and radio show host. He has also written several books that have sold millions of copies worldwide. Osteen was born on March 5th, 1963 in Houston, Texas to John and Dolores Osteen. He grew up with his brothers John Jr., Paul and an older sister Lisa. His father was a former Southern Baptist minister who started Lakewood Church in 1955 with his mother when his wife passed away from cancer at age 29 due to breast cancer complications. Osteen’s father became the senior pastor at Lakewood Church and he began working there during high school summers as a janitor while still attending high school himself while also serving as an associate pastor alongside his father during this time as well. In 1982, he graduated from Oral Roberts University where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in communications then went on to receive a Master of Arts degree in communication from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) which took place just three years later in 1985 after completing all necessary requirements according to their website which includes ministry
  • Bishop TD Jakes is from West Virginia and has been preaching since 1995. He’s spent decades giving his time and resources to support his community, and it shows—his congregation is the most diverse group of people you will ever meet. They come from all walks of life, from every corner of the globe, and they’ve all found themselves in this place because they believe that there can be no better place on earth than being surrounded by people who have your best interests at heart. He is known for being a prominent mentor to many young people who want to be pastors themselves someday; this includes megachurch pastor Steven Furtick. Bishop TD Jakes was nominated for a Grammy award for his gospel music album “Let It Rain.” He also wrote several books about faith that have sold millions of copies around the world!
  • Joyce Meyer is an American preacher who has led her ministry since 1993. She has written several books about Christianity and also hosts “Enjoying Everyday Life” on television stations across America. Joyce Meyer’s ministry has grown into an empire over time–with its own radio station, magazine, TV show, website.
  • John Piper: The author of over 50 books and the founder of Desiring God, John Piper is one of the most well-known Christian pastors in the world. He has been married to his wife, Noël, for over 45 years and they have four grown children.
  • Rick Warren: Author of The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren serves Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. His church has grown from just 200 people to over 20,000 weekly attendees since 1980, and he has been named one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” by Time Magazine.

famous preachers of the 21st century

When Preaching magazine was launched in 1985, a look at our list of contributing editors gave you a sense of who would be listed among the most influential pastors in America. That original group included Stuart Briscoe, Maxie Dunnam, Jim Henry, David Allen Hubbard, John Huffman, D.E. King, James Earl Massey, Calvin Miller, Lloyd John Ogilvie, Stephen F. Olford, Haddon Robinson, J. Alfred Smith, John Wesley White and William Willimon, along with several more.

Thankfully, many of those preachers are still on the scene, though others have gone to be with the Lord. A quarter-century has brought great changes to the preaching landscape, and today’s list of contributing editors includes names that would have been unknown to most pastors 25 years ago: Rick Warren, Bryan Chapell, James MacDonald, Robert Smith, Dave Stone, James Emery White and Ed Young Jr. (though his pastor dad would have been a good candidate for the original list—and is now among our senior consulting editors).

Identifying the 25 most influential pastors of the past 25 years is a challenging assignment. There were some who were major influencers of preaching in 1985 who would be little known to today’s new generation of pastors; likewise, there are some major influencers today who weren’t on the scene 25 years ago. (Actually, some of them were in grade school.) As we were gathering data and compiling the nominations in this process, we tried to ensure balance so neither end of the era is neglected.

Because the primary focus and audience of Preaching magazine has been the American pulpit, that is the context in which these preachers are recognized. Many gifted and influential preachers have served faithfully around the world and in terms of Kingdom impact may have touched far more than many of those listed below. We may not know them, but God does.

Here, then, are the 25 most influential pastors of the past 25 years:

#1 Billy Graham

Bill Graham sermons are broadcast live each week from Lakewood Church, a nondenominational Christian megachurch in Houston, Texas that seats 16,000 people. The church’s television ministry reaches more than 100 million households in over 100 countries.
He just as easily could be the top of  a list of the most influential preachers of the past half century; when Preaching cited the most influential preachers of the 20th century (in our first issue of the 21st), Billy Graham came in at number two. In a recent LifeWay survey of the most influential living preachers, Graham topped the list. When considering preachers who have influenced the rest of us, Billy Graham simply stands in a category unto himself.

John Huffman describes Graham’s “integrity of life and passion of expression that not only led millions to faith in Jesus Christ but challenged so many of us to be faithful in our ministries. His founding of Christianity Today and his various conferences bringing together evangelicals from around the world make him tops on most of our lists.”

#2 Charles Swindoll
The dominant role of media in the contemporary church is reflected in the influence of Chuck Swindoll, whose “Insight for Living” radio program and countless books have helped a generation of preachers in its understanding of what biblical exposition should look like.

Long-time pastor of First Evangelical Free Church of Fullerton, Calif., Swindoll became President of Dallas Theological Seminary and now serves as Senior Pastor of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas (a suburb of Dallas). His radio program, books and Internet resources continue to influence thousands.

#3 Rick Warren
Rick Warren is a model and guru for today’s new generation of preachers and church planters who are seeking to create churches that will reach the unchurched of their own generation. Founder of Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif.—now one of the largest churches in America—he is widely known as author of The Purpose Driven Church (which shaped the views of thousands of pastors about how the church can be changed) and the huge best-seller The Purpose Driven Life.

Warren’s most significant influence on today’s pastors may be through his creative use of the Internet, including his weekly newsletter that reaches more pastors than any other single publication or Web resource. His own sermons, made available via the Web, have become models for many young pastors in the United States and around the world.

#4 Gardner C. Taylor
A profound influence on the African-American pulpit, Gardner Taylor is a model of eloquence and passion in preaching. He served as Senior Pastor of Brooklyn’s Concord Baptist Church of Christ from 1948 to 1990 and is former President of the Progressive National Baptist Convention. Taylor is now retired and living in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Taylor reflects the influence of a leading pastor prior to today’s diverse communications era. He served twice as National Radio Preacher for NBC, delivered the 100th Lyman Beecher Lectures on Preaching at Yale and has lectured at many colleges and seminaries. In 1979, Time magazine recognized him as one of the seven best Protestant preachers in the nation and conferred on him the title “Dean of the Nation’s Black Preachers.” Few black preachers of the past 25 years would have offered a list of great preachers without including Taylor at or near the top of their list.

#5 John MacArthur
Radio has been one of the major media tools used by preachers in the past quarter century, and few have been as influential via this medium as John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, Calif., and teacher on the “Grace to You” program.

Never afraid of controversy, MacArthur has engaged in a variety of theological debates through the years via his speaking and writing. His approach to verse-by-verse exposition has attracted many, and through his media influence and The Master’s Seminary, which he established, MacArthur is preparing a new generation of young preachers for ministries focused on biblical exposition.

#6 Adrian Rogers
With a remarkable voice and a gift for expressing biblical insights in an engaging manner, Adrian Rogers became widely-known through his radio and TV ministries. Bill Bouknight observes that, “His ‘Love Worth Finding’ program is still sending his sermons around the world five years after his death.”

Rogers spent 32 years as Senior Pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, growing the congregation from 8,000 to more than 29,000. In addition, he served three terms as President of the Southern Baptist Convention and was a key leader in the conservative resurgence movement that shifted the SBC in a new direction in the 1980s and 90s.

#7 Haddon Robinson
Haddon Robinson has used the classroom and printed page to exert a profound influence on the American pulpit during the past 25 years. His text Biblical Preaching (Baker) is the most widely-used preaching textbook of the last quarter century, helping to prepare thousands of young preachers to develop “Big Idea” sermons. (In the March-April 2010 Preaching, the book was cited as the most influential preaching book of the past 25 years.)

As a professor of preaching at three prominent evangelical seminaries, Robinson further influenced many of those who now teach preaching in colleges and seminaries. Michael Milton writes, “Arguably the greatest preacher in North America, Dr. Robinson has influenced pulpits all over America and through his ministry at Gordon-Conwell and Denver Seminary before that.”

#8 Andy Stanley
Although he only founded Atlanta’s North Point Community Church in 1995, in the past 15 years Andy Stanley has become a major model for a new generation of young pastors and preachers. He has led the way in the development of satellite churches and video venues, trends which are becoming ubiquitous forces in church life in the early 21st century.

Starting as Minister to Students at his father’s First Baptist Church in Atlanta, the younger Stanley adapted many of his insights for communicating with youth in shaping a homiletical style for reaching unchurched young adults. His book Communicating for a Change (Multnomah) offers a guide to his preaching style. Through his leadership at the Catalyst conference, he continues to influence thousands of young pastors in shaping their own ministries. Dan Kimball writes, “I also find his preaching refreshing. I never would be embarrassed to have someone who isn’t a Christian listen to an Andy Stanley sermon.”

#9 John R.W. Stott
Although no longer active due to health issues, in 1985 John Stott was still a major influence on preaching, perhaps even more outside the United States than in this nation. By 1975 he had resigned as Rector of All Souls Church in London and assumed a more international leadership role, with a special concern for churches in the developing world.

Stott’s book Between Two Worlds (Eerdmans) has been a major influence on our understanding of preaching in the past quarter century, and Stott himself has been a model of faithful biblical exposition. Mel Lawrenz observes, “Stott’s teaching is a baseline for me. His ministry is marked by faithfulness and character over a lifetime, and a vision to see the majority world with respect long before others did.”

#10 W.A. Criswell
As pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas for more than 40 years (he became Pastor Emeritus in 1995) W.A. Criswell helped create a model for a successful urban church rooted in strong biblical preaching. The church grew from 7,800 to 25,000 during his pastorate, at one point becoming the largest congregation in the world. For more than 50 years, Billy Graham had his membership at the Dallas church.

Criswell was an expositor who preached through books of the Bible throughout his pastoral ministry. He founded Criswell College as a place to train a new generation of Bible preachers. Rick Warren, who felt Criswell’s influence as a young man, has called the Dallas preacher “the greatest American pastor of the 20th century.”

10 dangerously powerful pastors in the world

#11 John Piper
As Pastor of Preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minn., John Piper has been a powerful influence on young pastors through his writing and speaking. Mike Milton says: “His messages are examples of solid, biblical exposition. His passion for missions and preaching has influenced many for the advancement of the Kingdom of God.”

#12 Charles Stanley
Pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta, and widely known through his “In Touch” radio and TV ministry, author  of several books Charles Stanley was third in LifeWay’s recent survey of most influential living Protestant pastors.

#13 Stephen F. Olford
Born in Zambia to British missionary parents, Olford ultimately ended up in the United States as pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in New York City, where he modeled an urban ministry centered on biblical exposition. He later established a training center for pastors which impacted thousands in equipping them to be faithful preachers of God’s Word. Cliff Barrows 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.”

#14 William A. Jones
Pastor for more than 40 years of Bethany Baptist Church in Brooklyn, William Jones was a powerful (and deep) voice in the African-American church. He was cited by Ebony as one of the nation’s best Black preachers and was in constant demand as a speaker and evangelist. He was a past President of the Progressive National Baptist Convention and founder of the National Black Pastors Conference.

#15 Bill Hybels
Founding Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church and pioneer of the seeker-sensitive church movement, Bill Hybels’ writing and resourcing of other churches through Willow Creek Association has touched the lives of thousands of pastors. John Huffman says Hybels should be recognized for “modeling what it is to be a passionate communicator and vision caster who has rallied a whole generation—with new preaching methods and organizational styles—to reach those who otherwise would not have been as open to the gospel.”

#16 Fred Craddock
Fred Craddock may be part of the mainline church, but his writing on inductive preaching has strongly influenced the preaching style of thousands of pastors over the past couple of decades. In addition, Craddock is an engaging and effective preacher and one of the best storytellers anyone ever will hear.

#17 Mark Driscoll
Not only did Driscoll pastor Mars Hill as it grew from zero to megachurch in America’s most unchurched city in less than a decade but he also has launched a national network of church planters that is touching cities across the nation. Reformed, emerging and controversial, Driscoll is a model for thousands of young pastors who read his books and listen faithfully to his podcast sermons. Driscoll may well be an example of how preachers will influence other preachers in the 21st century.

#18 Jack Hayford
For 30 years as Pastor of The Church on the Way in Los Angeles, Jack Hayford provided an example of faithful biblical preaching for his fellow Charismatic pastors. Chancellor of The Kings College and Seminary, which he founded, Hayford also is author of more than 50 books and more than 600 hymns and choruses, including the popular song “Majesty.”

#19 William Willimon
Now the United Methodist Bishop for North Alabama, William Willimon became widely known among mainline and evangelical pastors as Dean of the Chapel at Duke University. His incisive biblical sermons have influenced many, as have his challenges to his fellow mainline pastors to make sure their preaching is rooted in scriptural truth.

#20 E.K. Bailey
Though most pastors won’t know his name, E.K. Bailey was a powerful influence in launching a new birth of expository preaching in the African-American church. Long-time pastor of Concord Missionary Baptist Church in Dallas (until his death in 2003), he started an annual conference that continues to attract hundreds of black pastors each year and gives them the tools to become more effective biblical expositors.

#21 D. James Kennedy
Mike Milton says that “through Coral Ridge Ministries and other media and ministry outlets, Dr. Kennedy became the most listened to Presbyterian minister in history.” His Evangelism Explosion movement became a powerful influence for many years on how churches did personal evangelism.

#22 Barbara Brown Taylor
Although she never pastored a megachurch, Barbara Taylor teaches at a small Georgia college and has been a favorite preacher in mainline circles for two decades. This Episcopal priest has written a dozen books, with several popular works on preaching including the publication of her 1997 Lyman Beecher Lectures on Preaching.

#23 Warren Wiersbe
Former pastor of Moody Church and then radio voice of “Back to the Bible,” Wiersbe’s teaching through countless books—particularly his “Be” series on biblical books—has shaped the biblical understanding and preaching of thousands of pastors. Billy Graham called him “one of the greatest biblical expositors of our generation.” Through his books, radio ministry and conferences he has been a pastor to pastors for a generation.

#24 Lloyd John Ogilvie
After 23 years as Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Hollywood, Calif., Ogilvie became Chaplain of the U.S. Senate, a role from which he retired in 2003. Through the 1980s and 90s, his more than 50 books were devoured (and adapted) by preachers in much the same way as books by Swindoll or Lucado are used today. John Huffman says that Ogilvie “has taken seriously the discipline of preaching, extending a solid combination of biblical and relational truth beyond the pulpit into the public arena of the business, entertainment and political world.”

#25 Tim Keller
Founding Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City, which has grown to a weekly attendance of more than 5,000, Keller has shown that biblical preaching still can make an impact in a secular urban environment. In addition to his best-selling books, his commitment to church planting has led to more than 100 church plants in cities around the world. Michael Milton wrote: “Tim’s preaching was for years under the radar, but not hidden from the influencers in media, the arts and the ‘higher’ culture of America from New York City. Now his ministry is flowering, and his preaching—insightful, culturally sensitive and yet strongly expository—has become some of the most listened to sermons in America via iTunes podcasts.”

top 10 preachers to avoid

In the past year, televangelists – including Kenneth Copeland, who recently went viral for an inflammatory “Inside Edition” interview, and Franklin Graham, son of legendary evangelical preacher Billy Graham – have been embroiled in controversy, one way or another.

Copeland, a Texas evangelist, came under fire for a viral “Inside Edition” video in which he defended his three private jets. But he’s not the only one to make headlines.

From buying a $200,000 Lamborghini SUV as an anniversary gift to reportedly turning away hurricane evacuees, these 10 televangelists have caught flak for their actions and sermons.

Kenneth Copeland
Copeland justified his jet-setting by saying that he could not evangelize without the aircraft. “If I flew commercial, I’d have to stop 65% of what I’m doing,” he told journalist Lisa Guerrero.

Guerrero then pressed Copeland on a statement he made in 2015 in which he compared flying in commercial class to getting “in a long tube with a bunch of demons” to fellow televangelist Jesse Duplantis.

“No, I do not, and don’t you ever say that I did,” he responded, pointing a finger at the journalist.

He owns an airport close to his Kenneth Copeland Ministries in Fort Worth.

Jesse Duplantis
Louisiana minister Jesse Duplantis, who himself was implicated in Copeland’s jet scandal, has been in hot water for his own jet-setting lifestyle. He claims God told him he needs a private jet – specifically, a Falcon 7X, capable of carrying 12 to 16 passengers at speeds up to 700 mph.

“Now, some people believe that preachers shouldn’t have jets,” Duplantis said in a video posted in 2018.

“I really believe that preachers ought to … have every available outlet to get this Gospel preached to the world.”

In the same video, he showed off a photo of the three planes owned by his ministry that bore the caption “It’s not about possessions, it’s about priorities.”

Gloria Copeland
Kenneth Copeland’s wife, Gloria, is a preacher herself. She co-founded Kenneth Copeland Ministries with her husband and served as one of President Donald Trump’s evangelical ministers.

In a video published on the ministry’s Facebook page, she proclaimed that children do not need a flu shot because Jesus had already “bore our sickness.”

“We don’t have a flu season,” she said. “And don’t receive it when somebody’s threatening you with ‘Everybody’s getting the flu.’ We’ve already had our shot. He bore our sicknesses and carried our diseases.”

Upon drawing widespread criticism, Copeland Ministries shared a list of scriptures on its website with the claim that it would help followers “stand strong against” the flu.

Franklin Graham
Franklin Graham, son of famed preacher Billy Graham, was recently the target of criticism after inflammatory comments he made about Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.

“As a Christian I believe the Bible which defines homosexuality as sin, something to be repentant of, not something to be flaunted, praised or politicized,” he wrote on Twitter.

“The Bible says marriage is between a man & a woman—not two men, not two women.” His tweet was in response to remarks Buttigieg made on CNN in which he said, “God does not have a political party.”

Pat Robertson
As host of The 700 Club, Pat Robertson is one of the more visible televangelists to emerge on the national stage. In his extensive career, he has drawn controversy for comments regarding everything from the 9/11 attacks to working with Buddhists.

In recent years, Robertson, 89, defended Trump before the 2016 election after a videotape emerged of Trump making vulgar comments about women. Brushing it off as “macho” talk, Robertson compared Trump to a phoenix. “They think he’s dead, he’s come back. And he came back strong,” he said on his show.

More recently, he called Alabama’s abortion ban “extreme” and “ill-considered” on The 700 Club – though he has been a vocal opponent of abortion in the past.

Jim Bakker
Televangelist Jim Bakker was sentenced to five years in prison in 1989 on 24 counts of fraud and conspiracy after misappropriating funds from followers for his own use. More recently, Bakker has attempted to sell properties at his Christian-themed Morningside development southwest of Branson, Missouri.

Bakker said his development, located in the Ozark mountains, is the safest place to live when the apocalypse comes. “Where are you going to go when the world’s on fire?” he said in a 2018 broadcast. “Where are you going to go? This place is for God’s people, and this place, we need some farmers to move here.”

Joel Osteen
In the wake of Hurricane Harvey in 2017, preacher Joel Osteen – who helms one of the largest churches in America with 50,000 members and a 600,000-square-foot stadium – was criticized for not welcoming hurricane evacuees into his Lakewood megachurch.

A social media post from the megachurch claimed the building was inaccessible because of “severe flooding.” But locals said otherwise, posting photos around the church showing streets that were easy to get to.

Regardless of what happened, it brought negative publicity to the church and Osteen, who has a reported net worth of more than $50 million.

“We have never closed our doors,” Osteen said amid the controversy. “We are prepared to house people once shelters reach capacity. Lakewood will be a value to the community in the aftermath of this storm.”

John Gray
South Carolina megachurch pastor John Gray gave his wife a $200,000 Lamborghini SUV for their eighth anniversary in 2018. A flood of negative responses followed.

“God helped me to make my wife’s dream come true,” he wrote in an Instagram post showing off the luxury automobile.

Within days of the original post, he defended his purchase online – alleging it was bought with “not a nickel, not a penny” of church funds, including his salary, in a tearful video.

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“My wife has pushed for my dreams and my vision, and she has toiled with a man who is still trying to find himself,” Gray said. “That carries a weight. I wanted to honor her for how she’s covered me.”

Robert Jeffress
Pastor Robert Jeffress has elicited much controversy for his sentiments toward the LGBT community, Mormons and Muslims, claiming Muslims practice a religion that “promotes pedophilia.” The statements resulted in Tim Tebow canceling an appearance at his First Baptist Dallas Church in 2013.

He was appointed one of President Trump’s evangelical advisers and gained national attention when he claimed that “God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong-Un,” invoking the Bible’s book of Romans to do so.

John Hagee
The controversial founder of Texas’ Cornerstone Church has been in the news repeatedly for statements connecting natural phenomena to God’s plan.

He said in 2014 that a tetrad – or four consecutive and complete lunar eclipses over the span of two years – of blood moons signaled the End Times.

“God is literally screaming at the world ‘I’m coming soon,'” he said.

In 2008, he suggested Hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment for New Orleans planning a gay pride rally for the LGBT community.

After a wave of criticism, he later apologized: “Ultimately neither I nor any other person can know the mind of God concerning Hurricane Katrina.”

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