A friend asked me to recommend a few preachers he should listen to for his own benefit. It's fascinating to think about how technology has changed the answer to that question. Thirty years ago it meant, "Where can I get cassette tapes of messages by Pastor so-and-so?" Fifty years ago it meant, "What conference should I attend to hear the best preachers?" But the digital revolution has changed everything. Today there are thousands, no, make it tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of preachers with online sermons.
Add to that the vast reservoir of past preachers whose sermons have been digitized and added to the mix. You can now listen to sermons preached by men who passed away fifty or even sixty years ago, sermons that were recorded on those massive reel-to-reel recorders, listened to once or twice, and then stored at the bottom of a box filled with the bric-a-brac of life, labeled "Misc," and then left to gather dust (and humidity) in the attic.
The upside of all this is that today we have a "veritable plethora" (to quote Howard Cosell) of digitized sermons. Because new sermons are added every day, no one knows (or even tries to keep track) of how many sermons are online. But it is vast number, and growing vaster, and the tide shows no signs of slowing down.
So that's all good.
As far as the preachers I listen to, I operate by one main principle. Listen to people who aren't necessarily like yourself. Stretch yourself by going outside your own denomination or your own preferred preachers. Find a few excellent preachers who challenge you by the way they approach the preaching task. With an iPod you can download a ton of sermons. And if you don't like one of the sermons you downloaded, delete it. The preacher will never know.
That said, here are some preachers I like to listen to. Nothing should be assumed about names that aren't on this list because I often just randomly search through iTunes trying to find sermons by preachers unknown to me. I've hit on some really good ones that way. Here are a few preachers I have listened to in the last few months:
(Denton Bible Church, TX)
Joel Hunter (Northland Church, Orlando, FL)
S. Lewis Johnson (SLJInstitute)
Vic Pentz (Peachtree Presbyterian Church, Atlanta)
Erwin McManus (Mosaic Church, Los Angeles)
Ryan Whitley (Crosspoint Church, Trussville, AL)
Jamie Mitchell (NewSong Fellowship, Lancaster, PA)
Andy McQuitty (Irving Bible Church, TX)
Richard Kannwischer (St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, Newport Beach, CA)
Mark Dever (Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, DC)
Erwin Lutzer (Moody Church, Chicago)
Ray Stedman (Peninsula Bible Church, Palo Alto, CA)
Robert Rayburn (Faith Presbyterian Church, Tacoma, WA)
Tim Keller (Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York)
Rob Bell (Mars Hill Church, Michigan)
David Platt (Church at Brook Hills, Birmingham, AL)
Will Willimon (Methodist Bishop, North Alabama)
Haddon Robinson (Gordon Conwell Seminary)
Mark Driscoll (Mars Hill Church, Seattle)
Howard Hendricks (Dallas Seminary)
Mark Bailey (Dallas Seminary)
Pete Briscoe (Bent Tree Bible Fellowship, Dallas)
Sinclair Ferguson (First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, SC)
Phil Ryken (Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, PA)
As I listen I like to ask myself, "How did he do that?" It's fun listening to an excellent preacher introduce a topic, raise a need, make a strong transition, work through a text, and "land the plane" on schedule. You can learn a lot that way, gaining some insights for your own preaching, and along the way your soul will be edified.
Well, this is my current list. Who are you listening to these days? Your suggestions are always welcome.
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