Who are the most influential Evangelicals in America?
TIME Magazine took a guess at The Top 25 Evangelicals a few years back, but I think things have shifted just a tad since then. I made one of these lists four years ago, and you’ll notice some changes.
Previously listed 4-5 years ago were: James Dobson, Rob Bell, Rick Warren, Charles Colson, Louie Giglio, T.D. Jakes, Brian McLaren, Kirk Cameron, Mark Driscoll & Sarah Palin.
For the purposes of this list, by “Evangelical” I mean living, current Protestant Christians and I included the Pentecostal / Charismatic movement. This year I have chosen to exclude famous Christian celebrities like actors, sports heroes and politicians from this list, to focus more on those who are mostly known for their full-time ministry work.
Here is my current subjective list of who I think the top 10 most influential Evangelical leaders (for better or worse) may be (in no particular order of importance):
1. Joyce Meyer
According to the last data I could find, Joyce’s organization grosses over $116,000,000 per year. She is a mega-star who has a phenomenal global following. She is consistently one of the best-selling Christian authors in America.
2. Joel Osteen
Best-selling author, Joel Osteen has become a rallying point for many in the Charismatic movement because of his positive, prosperity gospel message and his southern, friendly demeanor. His mega-church in Houston grosses over $600,000 in local offerings per week, not to mention the millions in donations they receive each year from around the world.
The son of famous evangelist, Billy Graham, Franklin is having a huge impact on the world through his work with Samaritan’s Purse, a world-relief organization with an annual revenue of $60,000,000. Because of his willingness to speak his mind on cultural issues, he is a frequent Christian spokesman on national television. He is also the President and CEO of his father’s BGEA ministry.
4. Ronnie Floyd
When you are the president of the Southern Baptist Convention (the nation’s largest evangelical organization with over 50,000 churches and over 15,000,000 members worldwide), you will likely get the chance to be included on my list. Ronnie has unified both the conservative and more progressive elements of the SBC into a fairly cohesive unit at present, which is no small task!
5. John Piper
Founder of Desiring God, Piper has become a rather “hip” face for the Reformed theology crowd and has a tremendous influence on people who don’t even know what a TULIP is.
6. Ray Comfort
Ray who? I think Ray will be the dark horse of my list. While certainly not the best-known, he is having a MAJOR impact in shaping the way that many American Christians think about evangelism. Through his street ministry, The Way of the Master, his compelling videos, and his nearly half-a-million Facebook followers, Ray is making people think and is one of Evangelicalism’s most impactful leaders.
7. Sarah Young
Sarah is the author of the run-a-way best-selling book, Jesus Calling. According to Publishers Weekly, this book has sold over 14,000,000 copies! In the Christian publishing world…that is a LOT of copies! In June of 2015, she wrote 4 of the top-20 best-selling Christian books on the ECPA chart, INCLUDING the #1 spot with Jesus Calling…more than 10 years after it’s release! That’s called domination.
Okay, I didn’t say I would exclude music artists, did I? 😉 I don’t think I could talk about current influence without mentioning this guy. Last year, he hit #1 on the secular Billboard 200 chart…as a Christian artist! In the first week of his allbums’s release, he sold an astounding 88,000 units. He has currently sold over 1,500,000 albums and had over 3,000,000 singles downloads. His top video on Youtube has almost 9,000,000 views. #Influence
9. Ken Ham
There is still a large segment of those who identify themselves as Fundamentalist Christians, and Ken represents the “funnest” of these. He leads the charge of the Creationist movement, and is the founder of Answers in Genesis, the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter. His video-recorded debate with Bill Nye (the Science Guy) was viewed by over 8,000,000 people within the first week. He has the ear of the ever-growing homeschooling movement as well. With over 2.6 million books sold, I think he is a major leader among the most theologically conservative elements of Evangelicalism.
Okay, I lied. I just really couldn’t think of anyone who is making a deeper cultural impact, as Christians, than these guys. The Robertson family dynasty continues to grow and they write Christian books, share their testimonies at Christian events….they are just a phenomenon right now. This could all turn on a dime with the fickleness of reality TV, but for the moment…they made my list.
Please do not interpret my listing of these leaders as an endorsement of them or their ministries.
So what do you think? Agree, or disagree? I’d love to hear your feedback.