Jason’s “Mount Rushmore of Preaching”

 In Jason Bunger

We all need people to speak encouragement into our lives and we typically look to many persons for that encouragement. New insights I gained from a preaching class I took this summer with Dr. Bryan Loritts, however, suggest that we specifically need a list of four.  Every pastor goes through seasons when they struggle to find their rhythm and their voice. It is during these times that he encouraged us to look to what he called our “Mt. Rushmore of Preaching.”   

The “Mt. Rushmore of Preaching” is what he refers to as the four, and no more than four, preachers that we admire above all others.  They may not be the most famous or even the most eloquent of preachers, but just the four preachers God seems to use to speak to us the most.  If I were to chisel out my list of preachers that have and continue to encourage and shape me, it would be these four men.    

Dr. Tim Keller

Tim Keller is the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.  Keller preaches using a process called “humble cultural engagement.” Keller is able to graciously present redemptive, gospel-centered truths to individuals that often consider themselves closed off to Biblical Christianity.  Keller’s peers remark that he responds to his harshest critics more clearly (and graciously) than they can.  Once he understands clearly what his critics think, he can challenge them to see how their positions may be flawed — and that the redemptive truth they are seeking is only found in gospel of Jesus Christ.   

Keller’s mind and ability to communicate make him a once-in-a-generation phenomenon.  I jokingly tell people that if one wants to know what Christians should think on any particular issue, see what Keller has said then adopt that thinking.    

Dr. Maurice Watson

Maurice Watson is the pastor of the Metropolitan Baptist Church near Washington D.C. He is known for the art of consecutive exposition of extensive scriptural passages – or preaching through whole books of Scripture passage-by-passage. Dr. Watson preaches with a clarity and passion that is matched by none.  After each message, his listeners understand the truth of the passage and feel a greater confidence in the redemptive love of God.  No one can encourage the soul with passion and Biblical truth better than Maurice Watson.   

In an interview with Dr. H.B. Charles, I heard one of the greatest pieces of advice about preaching from Dr. Watson.  He stated, “Don’t try to preach great sermons.  Try to preach helpful sermons.  If you preach helpful sermons, everyone once in a while, one will be great.” (Paraphrase mine)

Alistair Begg

Alistair Begg is the pastor of Parkside Church in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. Pastor Begg has the ability to appeal to the mind and the heart of his listener. There may be no better pastor at the discipline of consecutive exposition of scripture. Although his logical and passionate exposition draws thousands of listeners daily to Truth for Life, I am most drawn to Begg’s pastoral heart. As the pastor of Parkside for over 35 years, he genuinely loves the people he serves and the community of Cleveland. 

Pastor James Washington 

Finally, my list of great preachers would not be complete without mention of Pastor James Washington of Phillips Temple in Dayton.  For the past 22 years he has been, and will continue to be, my pastor.  (By the way, “He who pastors himself has a fool for a pastor.”)   He is not a great preacher because he is my pastor.  He is my pastor because he is a great preacher.  He was the first preacher I ever saw preach Biblically, logically and passionately.  Reading the Bible then began to make so much sense to me.  It was only after I witnessed firsthand his devotional and study habits was I able to fully understand the phrase, “it takes a lifetime and a lifestyle to preach a great sermon.” 

It is said that most of us think our own pastor preaches well.  However, I am a student (though not an expert) of great expository preaching.   I am not sure if there is a more complete preacher than James Washington.  I have heard him preach literally hundreds, if not thousands, of times and he has never failed to amaze me.   

Although there are many great preachers today whose life and sermons inspire me, these are the four that I would chisel on my Mt. Rushmore.  I have never heard a bad sermon from any of them, and I know they will always speak to my soul. 

I am curious, which four preachers would you place on your “Mt. Rushmore of Preachers?”

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  • Mark Brooks

    Great post. My top four?
    1. John MacArthur – I used to say that when he wrote better books I would preach better sermons. No other preacher had a greater impact on my preaching style than him.
    2. Chuck Swindoll – MacArthur gave me substance, Swindoll showed me the power of a good story to illustrate a text.
    3. Tom Elliff – Tom was my pastor in high school. He went on to become the president of the Southern Baptist Convention and retired as president of the SBC’s Foreign Mission agency. His sermons were practical and he taught me the value of clear points that made practical sense.
    4. James Washington – A few years ago my wife and I drove to Maurice Watson’s church south of Atlanta to hear Jimmy preach. After we got in the car to head home she said to me, “I miss that kind of preaching!” She meant expository preaching. Few do it as well as Jimmy.

  • Patty Buck

    loved this article.

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