Several Christian web sites are publishing articles about the "most influential living preachers." Here is a link to the story on Associated Baptist Press. The Christian Post also published the story from Baptist Press.
The research arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, of which Baptist Press is an affiliate agency, conducted the research and published the results.
Here are "the top ten preachers who influence you"........according to this survey of a select group of preachers: Billy Graham, Charles Swindoll, Charles Stanley, Rick Warren, John MacArthur, Barbara Brown Taylor, David Jeremiah, Max Lucado, John Piper and Andy Stanley.
What strikes you? Nine men and one woman, all white, all but 2 in the South, and 8 of the 10 are Baptists. Makes me wonder about the research not the results. I'll bet I can pretty well describe the demographics of those interviewed: white, male, southern, Baptists!! And one other thing: all but one are or have been prominent on the television airwaves.
How different the demographics of this list from those who came to Louisville to preach at the inaugural Festival of Young Preachers: 20% female and 24% African American, and from all denominations in the United States--except Lutheran and Episcopal.
Why no Lutherans and Episcopalians, you ask? Primarily because neither denomination has a single educational institution within the radius of our original pilot project are. But we are now in touch with their leaders and professors and next year in Louisville I predict will be very different.
What will be different also is a list of "most influential" preachers for this younger generation. When I polled our leadership group on who they would like to hear preach at our first festival none of the names on the above "most influential" list even appeared! Their list was much more diverse: male and female, black and white, young and old, and full of names I had never ever heard!!
And then this: after attending the inaugural Festival of Young Preachers in January most of our young people would, I suspect, prefer hearing one of their own rather than somebody from my generation. So next year, we are going to do exactly that: we are going to select several of this year's top young preachers and invite them back next year as plenary preachers.
Next year: January 6-8, 2011. Twice as many preachers. Twice as good preaching. Twice as much inspiration.