Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Yesterday, I shared the top ten people who have had the most influence, impact, or contribution to my life and ministry. It was a very personal list, a very subjective list. Most of you who read the list probably have no idea who any of these individuals are. That's okay...the Lord knows who they are.

Today I want to share another subjective list, this time of men who are no doubt household names or at least well regarded in their sphere of infuence. It's not an exhaustive list, nor is it intended to reveal my theological biases. The fact of the matter is, there are some speakers, teachers, and broadcasters I enjoy even though I probably disagree with half of their emphases.

The same disclaimers I shared yesterday apply here. These are men whose teachings, ministry, scholarship, and lives have touched mine. Some of them I have personally met. One other thing: I have deliberately not included links to their ministries. Any decent search engine can provide you with that information.

Ten Nationally Known Influencers
1. John MacArthur--with no flash, no gimmicks, John MacArthur holds the attention of Grace Community Church and the radio listeners with in-depth expository teaching. Not only have I personally been fed, but I have learned how to dig into a text and present it.
2. Chuck Smith--Chuck Smith is the father of the Calvary Chapel movement, but the heartbeat of his ministry remains the simple, clear teaching of the Scripture.
3. Jerry Falwell--love him or hate him, Dr. Falwell took a stand for a lot of issues that others did not. But through it all, Jerry Falwell was a pastor who faithfully shepherded the flock when it was a small group in the 50's to it's mega-church, mega-ministry status today. Reading his account of how he started each day visiting homes is still an inspiration.
4. Tim LaHaye--Dr. LaHaye is another giant of a pastor. He was one of the founders of my alma mater and I had the privilege of being in one of his psychology classes. At church, he unveiled the dangers of humanist philosophy in a series that shortly became a book called The Battle for the Mind. One of the last series he gave at the church we attended was on the subject of prophecy. It's no wonder the Left Behind novels sound so familiar--it's in my notes from Sunday evening services!
5. David Jeremiah--Dr. Jeremiah was the keynote speaker at our college Bible conference. Less than two years later, he was brought on as the senior pastor of the church (replacing Dr. LaHaye). As I watch the Turning Point program today, I can't help but think, "I got to be there for the beginning!" Dr. Jeremiah is another master communicator of the Word, with alliterative skills that rival the best poets. But my best memory of David Jeremiah was when my (then) fiance and I were sitting on the steps outside the college chapel reading Psalms together. A shadow fell on us and we squinted up. David Jeremiah had a smile on his face and he said, "That sure is a good Book, isn't it?" Yup...it is...and I could tell that he really believed that too!
6. John Ankerberg--I've always been blessed by how John Ankerberg can systematically, step-by-step, weave an argument in defense of the Christian faith. Whether he is presenting a message or interviewing a cult leader, he gets to the heart of the matter in a way that leaves everybody nodding in agreement at how logically he's presented the facts.
7. Karl Bastian--my first impression of Karl was, "he's so young!" But don't let the age fool you. The reason the "Kidologist" (as he is known) is one of the premiere authorities on the subject of children's ministry is not only because he knows and practices his "stuff," but he has a kid mentality. I mean, who would have thunk that the theological paradigm of "incarnational ministry" could apply to the under-12 crowd? I've incorporated several elements I have learned over the years in my own ministry (plus I bought my very first Palm Pilot based on a stirring article written by Karl. )
8. Craig Jutilla--I had never heard of Craig Jutilla prior to a regional children's ministry conference I attended. I was just about at the bottom of my own ministry. I had almost made up my mind to resign from children's minsitry after I got home. Two things hit me that morning. One was a song by Mr. J entitled "I Am Child." The other was Craig Jutilla. Although I intellectually knew there was more to children's ministries than my little corner of it, Craig's workshops expanded my heart, my imagination, and my vision for children's ministries. Craig returned to our region once again a few years later and I've had the thrill of twice touring the children's facility at his former church as part of the INCM CPC (one year, the tour was facilitated by the above mentioned Karl Bastian).
9. Walter Martin--when my pastor gave me a copy of Kingdom of the Cults, I learned that, not only were there groups out there that were dangerous to the faith, but that there were reasonable, logical answers to those groups. Through the years, I've read books, listened to tapes, and thoroughly enjoyed Dr. Martin's Bible Answer Man broadcast.
10. Josh McDowell--one of my favorite set of classes in college was Apologetics, and one of my favorite writers on the subject was Josh McDowell. He's written and spoken on many other issues, but there are probably dozens of modern "defenders of the faith" who were first influenced by Evidence that Demands a Verdict.


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