Lifeway Research surveyed 1,002 Protestant preachers and asked them to “name the top three living Christian preachers that most influence you.” The number one name—Billy Graham—is not entirely unexpected. But the second name on the list is something of a surprise: Chuck Swindoll .

Swindoll is an author, host of the radio Bible-teaching ministry Insight for Living, and a pastor of Stonebriar Community Church, in Frisco, Texas. I attended his church when I lived in Dallas and found Swindoll to be a winsome and effective preacher. But I never would have suspected him to have such an influence on other pastors.

Apparantly, Ed Stetzer, director of LifeWay Research, is also surprised:

Considering our sample includes liberal and conservative, all races and ethnicities, mainline and evangelical, we were surprised that the list looked like mainstream Christian radio and publishing and was not more representative,” he said. “Of course, the majority who answer drive the final numbers, but I was expecting more diversity in the responses.

Indeed, the other names rounding out the top-ten are a veritable “Who’s Who” of popular evangelicals.

Charles Stanley , senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Atlanta, and founder of In Touch Ministries.

Rick Warren , senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and author of the best-selling book, “The Purpose-Driven Life.”

John MacArthur , pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, Calif., and president and featured teacher of the Grace to You ministry.

Barbara Brown Taylor , religion teacher at Piedmont College in northeast Georgia and author of 12 books including “An Altar in the World.”

David Jeremiah , founder of Turning Point Radio and Television Ministries and senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in San Diego County, Calif.

Max Lucado , minister of writing and preaching at the Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, and the recipient of three Christian Book of the Year awards.

John Piper , pastor for preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis and author of more than 30 books, including “Desiring God.”

Andy Stanley , senior pastor of North Point Community Church, Buckhead Church, and Browns Bridge Community Church – all in the Atlanta area – and founder of North Point Ministries.

With the exception of Taylor (a former Episcopal priest), all of those names listed are conservative evangelical preachers (Piper would be at the top of my list with R.C. Sproul (not listed) as a close second).

What are we to make of the inclusion of a single mainline Protestant on the list? Does it say more about the dominance of evangelical media or is it further evidence that the decline of liberal Protestantism has reached the point where even preachers can’t name more than one influential mainline preacher?

(Via: Frank Lockwood )

Related: Joseph Bottum’s The Death of Protestant America: A Political Theory of the Protestant Mainline (Aug/Sep 2008)

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