May 7, 2008

5 Church Leaders You Need to Know About

One of the things I spend a lot of time doing is watching what other churches are doing and listening to other church leaders. I have loved going to events like the Catalyst Conference and listening to the Catalyst podcast because it gives me exposure to a lot of these leaders.

For the past decade, much of the church culture in America has been influenced by leaders like Rick Warren and Bill Hybels. We have also felt the continuing impact by long-term leaders like John MacArthur, Jerry Falwell, John Piper, and many others.

Here are the Top 5 Church Leaders I am watching and listening to:

1. Andy Stanley - Pastor of North Point Church in Atlanta. Most of you have probably heard of Andy Stanley. In my opinion, he is the most influential voice of the new leadership of the church in America. Andy is a brilliant communicator and has a real way of bringing Scriptural principles to real life and still be true to the text. He is probably my favorite communicator to personally listen to. I am always challenged by his message as well as learn tons from how he communicates. Andy founded North Point about 12 years ago. Now, his church is listed as the number 7 church on Outreach Magazine top 100 churches. North Point has three multi-sites in the Atlanta and several strategic partnerships around the south. Andy is also the lead communicator every year for the Catalyst conference and speaks at many other leadership conferences each year. Andy is the primary voice on leadership for church leaders and is following John Maxwell as the lead voice in that area. I'm an avid reader of Andy's books. My favorites have been "The Best Question Ever" and "Communicating for a Change".

2. Francis Chan - Pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, CA. Francis Chan has had a fast rise over the last few years. He's been closely networked with Louie Giglio and the Passion movement and has appeared in several conferences lately, including Catalyst 2007. Francis is an intensely passionate leader and speaker. He has a strong desire to lead his listeners to be passionately in love with God. He brings a freshness to the church world that is overly consumed with growth strategies and expanding campuses. Francis and his church do not appear on the largest or fastest growing lists or on the Church Report's most influential leaders. However, this guy is providing a voice that will be heard loud and clear in the years to come. His website is and his website for his church is If you haven't heard this guy's podcast, you have to get it now. Trust me.

3. Craig Groeschel - Pastor of LifeChurch.TV. This guy is intense and creative. I heard him speak at Catalyst this last year and was very impressed. He has an intensity in preaching coupled with a strong prophetic tone. LifeChurch is listed as the 5th largest church in America according to 2007 Outreach Magazine's Top 100 list. LifeChurch.TV is known for its aggressive multi-site strategy with 13 video-venue campuses in 6 states. Groeschel is a prophetic leader and much of the creative force at lifechurch. He also led the church to provide a website that provides all of the resources of LifeChurch free to church leaders.

4. Mark Driscoll - Pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Mark Driscoll is a rising voice for the missional church movement. He founded Mars Hill several years ago with a vision to reach the unchurched in one of the hardest areas, the Pacific Northwest. Mark is a big believer in Expositional Preaching and sound theology. He was aligned early on with the Emerging Church movement because of his missional strategies. However, he has pulled away from many of them because of his concerns with the errant theology of men like Brian Maclaren and Doug Pagitt. Driscoll's book "Confessions of a Reformission Rev" is probably in my Top Ten books I have ever read. Driscoll is my kind of man. He is vocal and passionate about what he believes. He has a strong belief that the church should be missional to the community and also provide a sound theology. He has been known for controversial statements, but they are hard to argue with. If you don't know this guy yet, you need to get on board fast.

5. Mark Dever - Pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington D.C. Not many of you will have heard of Dever. He is the rising voice for evangelical Calvinists today. Dever has a strong passion for reformed theology and expository preaching. He has closely aligned himself with several well-known church leaders like John MacArthur and John Piper. Dever has a strong concern that much of the church in America has sacrificed sound preaching at the altar of pragmatism and growth. He, along with Piper, C J Mahaney, and Al Mohler, has started a bi-ennial gathering called "Together for the Gospel" that is attracting many young, evangelical church leaders that are embracing reformed theology. Dever has written several good books including "Nine Marks of a Healthy Church", "The Deliberate Church", and "The Gospel and Personal Evangelism".

This is not an exhaustive list, but I believe it is a balanced one. There were many other people I have found an affinity for. However, these are 5 that I think are making a strong impact and will have a larger impact in the future. What are your thoughts?


Jason Seales said...

6. Jeff Fortenberry - Jeff is a strong voice in southern Columbiana. His preaching can be heard far and wide, mostly because he tends to yell and the sound guy has him too loud. He leads an amazing staff. His church was listed on the top 50 churches in or around Wilsonville. You should check him out!

Helmsey said...

Good stuff brother! I am a huge fan of Chan and Stanley. Will defiitely check out the others on the list. Dr. David Platt at the Church of Brookhills right here in Bham, AL would be another I would mention that is on my short list.

Jackson.Haywood said...

7. Joel Osteen - Joel is the epitome of a true believer who will do anything to support his intimate congregation. He is a firm supporter of Texas polygamy and has appeared on national television in hopes of getting custody of his 3 wives, 17 kids, and 87 grandchildren. His ties to international drug trafficking make him a favorite among Latin populations as well as young teens looking for a good time.