List of Famous Pastors

This list of famous pastors and the best preachers includes photos, bios, and other information, when available. Who are the top pastors in the world? This includes the most prominent preachers of all faiths and famous Christian pastors, living and dead, both from America and abroad (if you're looking for famous children of pastors, we have that too). This list of popular preachers is ordered by their level of prominence with info about where the pastors were born and what their nationality is. The top preachers on this list are from different countries, but all share their status as renowned pastors and famous reverends.

The list you're viewing is made up of a variety of different people, with great pastors including Martin Luther King, Jr. and Fred Phelps (who both happen to be noted American preachers). Many are regarded as the most influential pastors and all are known for leading their followers to pursue their faith and gain a deeper understanding of their beliefs and tenets. This list includes pastors from all different backgrounds, like Black preachers, Baptist preachers, and more.

From reputable, prominent, and well known pastors to the lesser known ministers and preachers of today, these are some of the best religious leaders of both today and years gone by. Who are the most famous pastors ever? Who are the most famous Christian preachers? Peruse the list below to find out!

 


  • William Franklin Graham Jr. (November 7, 1918 – February 21, 2018) was an American evangelist, a prominent evangelical Christian figure, and an ordained Southern Baptist minister who became well-known internationally in the late 1940s. One of his biographers has placed him "among the most influential Christian leaders" of the 20th century.As a preacher, he held large indoor and outdoor rallies with sermons that were broadcast on radio and television; some were still being re-broadcast into the 21st century. In his six decades on television, Graham hosted annual "Crusades", evangelistic campaigns that ran from 1947 until his retirement in 2005. He also hosted the radio show Hour of Decision from 1950 to 1954. He repudiated racial segregation and insisted on racial integration for his revivals and crusades, starting in 1953; he also invited Martin Luther King Jr. to preach jointly at a revival in New York City in 1957. In addition to his religious aims, he helped shape the worldview of a huge number of people who came from different backgrounds, leading them to find a relationship between the Bible and contemporary secular viewpoints. According to his website, Graham preached to live audiences of 210 million people in more than 185 countries and territories through various meetings, including BMS World Mission and Global Mission.Graham was a spiritual adviser to U.S. presidents, and he provided spiritual counsel for every president from Harry S. Truman (33rd) to Barack Obama (44th). He was particularly close to Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson (one of Graham's closest friends), and Richard Nixon. He was also lifelong friends with another televangelist, the founding pastor of the Crystal Cathedral, Robert Schuller, whom Graham talked into starting his own television ministry.Graham operated a variety of media and publishing outlets. According to his staff, more than 3.2 million people have responded to the invitation at Billy Graham Crusades to "accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior". Graham's evangelism was appreciated by mainline Protestant and Roman Catholic denominations because he encouraged new converts to become members of these churches. As of 2008, Graham's estimated lifetime audience, including radio and television broadcasts, topped 2.2 billion. One special televised broadcast in 1996 alone may have reached a television audience of as many as 2.5 billion people worldwide. Because of his crusades, Graham preached the gospel to more people in person than anyone in the history of Christianity. Graham was on Gallup's list of most admired men and women a record 61 times. Grant Wacker writes that by the mid-1960s, he had become the "Great Legitimator": "By then his presence conferred status on presidents, acceptability on wars, shame on racial prejudice, desirability on decency, dishonor on indecency, and prestige on civic events".
  • Pat Robertson
    Photo: Aaron Smith / Flickr
    Marion Gordon "Pat" Robertson (March 22, 1930 – June 8, 2023) was an American media mogul, religious broadcaster, political commentator, presidential candidate, and Southern Baptist minister. Robertson advocated a conservative Christian ideology and was known for his involvement in Republican Party politics. He was associated with the Charismatic movement within Protestant evangelicalism. He served as head of Regent University and of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). Spanning over five decades, Robertson was the founder of major organizations, including CBN, Regent University, Operation Blessing International Relief and Development Corporation, the International Family Entertainment Inc. (ABC Family Channel/Freeform), the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ), the Founders Inn and Conference Center, and the Christian Coalition.[2][3] Robertson was also a best-selling author and the former host of The 700 Club.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.
    Photo: Phil Stanziola / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
    Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968. Born in Atlanta, King is best known for advancing civil rights through nonviolence and civil disobedience, tactics his Christian beliefs and the nonviolent activism of Mahatma Gandhi helped inspire. King led the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott and in 1957 became the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). With the SCLC, he led an unsuccessful 1962 struggle against segregation in Albany, Georgia, and helped organize the nonviolent 1963 protests in Birmingham, Alabama. He helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. On October 14, 1964, King won the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. In 1965, he helped organize the Selma to Montgomery marches. The following year, he and the SCLC took the movement north to Chicago to work on segregated housing. In his final years, he expanded his focus to include opposition towards poverty and the Vietnam War. He alienated many of his liberal allies with a 1967 speech titled "Beyond Vietnam". J. Edgar Hoover considered him a radical and made him an object of the FBI's COINTELPRO from 1963 on. FBI agents investigated him for possible communist ties, recorded his extramarital liaisons and reported on them to government officials, and on one occasion mailed King a threatening anonymous letter, which he interpreted as an attempt to make him commit suicide. In 1968, King was planning a national occupation of Washington, D.C., to be called the Poor People's Campaign, when he was assassinated on April 4 in Memphis, Tennessee. His death was followed by riots in many U.S. cities. Allegations that James Earl Ray, the man convicted of killing King, had been framed or acted in concert with government agents persisted for decades after the shooting. Sentenced to 99 years in prison for King's murder, effectively a life sentence as Ray was 41 at the time of conviction, Ray served 29 years of his sentence and died from hepatitis in 1998 while in prison. King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established as a holiday in numerous cities and states beginning in 1971; the holiday was enacted at the federal level by legislation signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986. Hundreds of streets in the U.S. have been renamed in his honor, and a county in Washington State was rededicated for him. The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., was dedicated in 2011.
  • Joel Scott Osteen (born March 5, 1963) is an American pastor, televangelist, and author, based in Houston, Texas. Osteen's televised sermons are seen by over 7 million viewers weekly and over 20 million monthly in over 100 countries.He is the author of ten books which have been ranked number one on The New York Times Best Seller list.
  • John Piper
    Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Public domain
    John Stephen Piper (born January 11, 1946) is an American Reformed Baptist continuationist pastor and author who is the founder and leader of desiringGod.org and is the chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Piper served as Pastor for Preaching and Vision of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for 33 years. His books include ECPA Christian Book Award winners Spectacular Sins, What Jesus Demands from the World, Pierced by the Word, and God's Passion for His Glory, and bestsellers Don't Waste Your Life and The Passion of Jesus Christ. The organization Desiring God is named for his book Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (1986).
  • Harold Camping
    Photo: Open Forum
    Harold Egbert Camping (July 19, 1921 – December 15, 2013) was an American Christian radio broadcaster, author and evangelist. Beginning in 1958, he served as president of Family Radio, a California-based radio station group that broadcasts to more than 150 markets in the United States. In October 2011, he retired from active broadcasting following a stroke, but still maintained a role at Family Radio until his death. Camping is notable for issuing a succession of failed predictions of dates for the End Times, which temporarily gained him a global following and millions of dollars of donations.Camping first predicted that the Judgment Day would occur on or about September 6, 1994. When it failed to occur, he revised the date to September 29 and then to October 2. In 2005, Camping predicted the Second Coming of Christ to May 21, 2011, whereupon the saved would be taken up to heaven in the rapture, and that "there would follow five months of fire, brimstone and plagues on Earth, with millions of people dying each day, culminating on October 21, 2011, with the final destruction of the world."His prediction for May 21, 2011 was widely reported, in part because of a large-scale publicity campaign by Family Radio, and it prompted ridicule from atheist organizations and rebuttals from Christian organizations. After May 21 passed without the predicted incidents, Camping said he believed that a "spiritual" judgment had occurred on that date, and that the physical Rapture would occur on October 21, 2011, simultaneously with the final destruction of the universe by God. Except for one press appearance on May 23, 2011, Camping largely avoided press interviews after May 21, particularly after he suffered a stroke in June 2011. After October 21, 2011 passed without the predicted apocalypse, the mainstream media labeled Camping a "false prophet" and commented that his ministry would collapse after the "failed 'Doomsday' prediction".Camping was reported to have retired from his position at Family Radio on October 16, 2011, only days before his last predicted date for the end of the world. However, his daughter later clarified that he had not retired outright, but was maintaining a role at Family Radio while working from home. Camping admitted in a private interview that he no longer believed that anybody could know the time of the Rapture or the end of the world, in stark contrast to his previously staunch position on the subject. In March 2012, he stated that his attempt to predict a date was "sinful", and that his critics had been right in emphasizing the words of Matthew 24:36: "of that day and hour knoweth no man". He added that he was now searching the Bible "even more fervently...not to find dates, but to be more faithful in [his] understanding." After the failure of Camping's prophecies, Family Radio suffered a significant loss of assets, staff and revenue.