The 20 Most Influential Evangelicals in America

Erik Raymond —  April 1, 2014

Who are the most influential Evangelicals in the US?

Thom Rainer, the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, conducted an informal survey of people that, according to Rainer, “are very knowledgeable about the evangelical scene in the United States.”

Ok, sounds promising. If there are any lingering doubts Rainer adds, “The respondents represent a cross section of denominational and non-denominational churches and entities. From my perspective, those I surveyed are clearly evangelicals themselves.”

Well, we need to trust his judgment.

On with the list.

There are some names on there that make sense and are very encouraging. We read of Albert Mohler, John Piper, Rick Warren, Tim Keller, Bill Hybels, and even young guys like Lecrae and Matt Chandler.

Then there are some surprises. We read of Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, TD Jakes, and Ross Douthat.

The problem here is that none of these 4 people are evangelicals. Meyer is a word-faith prosperity “preacher”, Osteen is, well, Osteen, Jakes is not a Trinitarian, and Ross Douthat is a Roman Catholic.

My first impulse is to wonder what in the world Rainer is doing here. This list (20% of it) is bogus. Then I got to thinking, Rainer is a researcher. He is serving us here. Stats and surveys provide helpful data for us to understand what people really think. I am more inclined to trust the results as what evangelicals actually think. Many self-described evangelicals don’t even know what an evangelical is. Apparently we just listen to whoever is on the cover of the books in the Christian bookstore. If everyone is an evangelical then it really doesn’t mean very much.

Does this have anything to do with April Fool’s?

This is absolutely lamentable and it falls at the feet of pastors in the local church. We as pastors in this time need to do our job to teach sound doctrine and refute those who contradict (Titus 1:9). We need to lovingly and faithfully clarify what we believe. May God help us.

Erik Raymond

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Erik has been writing at Ordinary Pastor since 2006. He lives in Omaha with his wife and kids while pastoring at Emmaus Bible Church. Follow regular updates on Twitter at

2 responses to The 20 Most Influential Evangelicals in America

  1. Erik

    Appreciate the perspective. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I saw that too and wish it was an April Fools joke.

    I can’t help but wondering if it was his call or one of his staffers to do that. This seems to be such an obvious oversight….