Famous American Pastors

Over past four centuries, the office of a pastor in the Christian church has been a role that has been accepted without question. That is right! Since the days of John Calvin, church government has comprised of a pastor and the elders — the elected representatives of the congregation. This pyramidal governmental structure of the church, with the pastor as the head and the rest of the board beneath him, is how the church administration is organized. While many modern day church-goers defy this structure, there is little denying the importance a pastor holds in the daily workings of a Church and Christianity, at large. America has been home to many such reverend pastors who have given new meaning to their religion. Divinely gifted, they are America’s most famous and highly sought preachers involved in the task of redeeming souls and fighting evil forces. Let us check out the biography, timeline, trivia and facts on America’s famous pastors.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Paula White

Paula White.
44
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: April 20, 1966
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Tupelo, Mississippi, United States

Better known as the spiritual advisor to Donald Trump, Paula White became the first female clergy to deliver the inauguration invocation of a U.S. president. The televangelist and preacher also chaired Trump’s evangelical advisory board. She is also known for her Without Walls International Church and the show Paula White Today.

 2 Charles Stanley

Charles Stanley.
28
Famous As: Pastor, Radio personality
Birthdate: September 25, 1932
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Dry Fork, Pittsylvania County, Virginia
Pastor of the First Baptist Church Charles Stanley had also established In Touch Ministries. A born-again Christian since age 12, he later gained fame with his show In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley, which was translated into 107 languages. He has also penned countless books on religion.

 3 Joyce Meyer

Joyce Meyer.
40
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: June 4, 1943
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: St. Louis
Charismatic Christian author, televangelist, and motivational speaker Joyce Meyer is the president of Joyce Meyer Ministries. She has written countless self-help and religious books, including The Penny: A Novel. She is also known for her widely broadcast TV program Enjoying Everyday Life. She owns many homes and a private jet.

 4 Joel Osteen

Joel Osteen.
50
Famous As: American Preacher & Televangelist
Birthdate: March 5, 1963
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Houston

Joel Osteen is an American pastor, author, and televangelist. He is one of the most popular televangelists in the world, with his televised sermons being watched by millions of people every week in over 100 countries, including 10 million viewers in the US alone. In 2006, he was named in the 10 Most Fascinating People list published by Barbara Walters.

 5 Franklin Graham

Franklin Graham.
23
Famous As: Pastor, Missionary
Birthdate: July 14, 1952
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Asheville

The son of evangelist Billy Graham, Franklin Graham followed in his father's footsteps to become a missionary and an evangelist. He now heads both the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse. He has also produced Christian-themed movies and docu-dramas such as Second Chance and Facing Darkness.

 6 Frank Reich

Frank Reich.
8
Famous As: Football Coach
Birthdate: December 4, 1961
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Freeport, New York, United States

Frank Reich is an American former football player who played as a quarterback in the National Football League (NFL) for 14 seasons. He is currently serving as the head coach for the popular NFL team, The Indianapolis Colts. Over the years, he has also been part of the coaching team for Arizona Cardinals, San Diego Chargers, and Philadelphia Eagles.

 7 Steven Furtick

Steven Furtick
22
Birthdate: February 19, 1980
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Moncks Corner

The founder of the Elevation Church of Charlotte, North Carolina, one of the country’s fastest-growing churches, pastor Steven Furtick also holds a communication degree. The father of two is also a New York Times best-selling writer and has penned books such as Sun Stand Still and Crash the Chatterbox.

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 8 John F. MacArthur

John F. MacArthur
14
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: June 19, 1939
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

John F. MacArthur is an American author and pastor best known for his television and radio program Grace to You which is broadcast all over the world. MacArthur has been playing an important role in the prosperity of a non-denominational, evangelical megachurch called Grace Community Church where he has been serving as a pastor-teacher since 1969.

 9 Demond Wilson

Demond Wilson
19
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: October 13, 1946
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Valdosta, Georgia, USA

Best known for his role in the NBC sitcom Sanford and Son, Demond Wilson had begun his career with dance and theater. A Catholic altar boy in his childhood, he later also became a minister, formed the Restoration House of America, and penned books on the New Age Movement.

 10 Francis Chan

Francis Chan
11
Famous As: Theologian, Author
Birthdate: August 31, 1967
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Hong Kong

The Cornerstone Church and Eternity Bible College founder Francis Chan is a popular Protestant preacher. Apart from authoring the New York Times bestseller Crazy Love, Francis has also penned children’s books such as Halfway Herbert and Ronnie Wilson's Gift. He has also co-launched the discipleship movement named Multiply.

 11 Ted Haggard

Ted Haggard
15
Famous As: Pastor, Priest, Preacher
Birthdate: June 27, 1956
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Yorktown

Ted Haggard is an evangelical pastor who founded New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He is also the founder of the Association of Life-Giving Churches. He is against same-sex marriages. In 2006, it was revealed that he had paid a male sex worker for sexual favors and also purchased some illegal drugs from him. 

 12 Fred Phelps

Fred Phelps
21
Famous As: Lawyer, Pastor, Journalist
Birthdate: November 13, 1929
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Meridian
Died: March 19, 2014

 13 Dr. Norman Vincent Peale

Dr. Norman Vincent Peale.
11
Famous As: Pastor, Self-Help Writer
Birthdate: May 31, 1898
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bowersville, Ohio, United States
Died: December 24, 1993

Dr. Norman Vincent Peale was an American author and minister best known for his efforts to popularize the concept of positive thinking. His book The Power of Positive Thinking is a great testimony to his efforts. Peale influenced several US presidents, including President Richard Nixon and Donald Trump. Artist and cartoonist Scott Adams has cited Peale as a major influence.

 14 Andy Stanley

Andy Stanley
19
Famous As: Pastor
Birthdate: May 16, 1958
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Atlanta

North Point Ministries founder Andy Stanley has been the senior pastor of many churches, such as the North Point and the Browns Bridge community churches. He has also penned several books, such as The New Rules for Love, Sex & Dating, and has created the show Your Move with Andy Stanley.

 15 John Hagee

John Hagee
19
Famous As: Pastor, Theologian, Saxophonist
Birthdate: April 12, 1940
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Baytown

The founder of the John Hagee Ministries and the Christians United for Israel, John Hagee has also established the Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas. He has penned several bestsellers, such as Absolute Power, and is also known for his controversial concepts, such as the blood moon prophecy.

 16 John Piper

John Piper.
14
Famous As: American pastor
Birthdate: January 11, 1946
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Chattanooga

John Piper is a theologian and pastor. He is the chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Previously, he taught biblical studies at Bethel University and preached at Bethlehem Baptist Church. He believes in the theological doctrine of sola fide. He is the founder of desiringGod.org, named for his 1986 book Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist.  

 17 Fulton J. Sheen

Fulton J. Sheen.
5
Famous As: Archbishop
Birthdate: May 8, 1895
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: El Paso, Illinois
Died: December 9, 1979

Catholic bishop Fulton J. Sheen was also a prominent radio and TV personality. Known for his stint on the NBC radio show The Catholic Hour, he also hosted the popular TV programs Life Is Worth Living and The Bishop Fulton Sheen Show. He also wrote extensively on communism, love, and peace.

 18 John C. Maxwell

John C. Maxwell
7
Famous As: Writer, Motivational speaker
Birthdate: February 20, 1947
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Garden City

The author of bestsellers such as The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John C. Maxwell is a renowned American pastor. He has founded organizations such as EQUIP and INJOY, and his teams have trained leaders of various organizations. He has spoken in front government leaders, army men, and corporates.

 19 Eddie Long

Eddie Long
15
Famous As: Priest, Writer
Birthdate: May 12, 1953
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Huntersville
Died: January 15, 2017

Senior pastor of the megachurch New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, Eddie Long made headlines when a few minor male congregants accused him of sexual abuse. He held a business administration degree and also worked as a sales representative. His long struggle with cancer eventually ended in his death at 63.

 20 Carlton Pearson

Carlton Pearson
7
Famous As: Christian minister
Birthdate: March 19, 1953
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA

Carlton Pearson is an American Christian minister and gospel vocalist whose singing skills have earned him two Stellar Awards and a nomination for the prestigious Dove Award. His life and career have inspired episodes of radio and TV programs like This American Life.

 21 David Wilkerson

David Wilkerson
15
Famous As: Evangelist
Birthdate: May 19, 1931
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Hammond, Indiana, USA
Died: April 27, 2011

David Wilkerson was an American evangelist who founded Teen Challenge, an addiction recovery program that aims at providing rehabilitation services to people around the world. He is also credited with founding the non-denominational Times Square Church. David Wilkerson is also remembered for his biographical book The Cross and the Switchblade.

 22 Victoria Osteen

Victoria Osteen
37
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: March 28, 1961
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Huntsville

Better known as the wife of pastor Joel Osteen, Victoria Osteen is a co-pastor at the Lakewood Church. She had met Joel at her mother’s jewelry store. Initially a student of psychology, she later deviated to spirituality. She is also a bestselling author of books such as Love Your Life.

 23 Rob Bell

Rob Bell
13
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: August 23, 1970
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Michigan, United States

Former pastor and teacher Rob Bell has penned countless books, including the New York Times bestsellers Love Wins and What Is the Bible? He established the Mars Hill Bible Church in Michigan in his late 20s. He has also made it to Time 100. He also hosts a podcast and is a sought-after speaker.

 24 Robert Jeffress

Robert Jeffress
7
Famous As: Religious leader
Birthdate: November 29, 1955
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Texas

Best known as a senior pastor of the Dallas-based First Baptist Church, Robert Jeffress is also a major Fox News contributor. He boasts of multiple theological degrees and is married to his high-school sweetheart, Amy. He has reached millions through his religious program Pathway to Victory.

 25 Timothy J. Keller

Timothy J. Keller
7
Famous As: Theologian
Birthdate: September 23, 1950
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Allentown, Pennsylvania, United States

The author of the New York Times bestsellers The Prodigal God and The Reason for God, Timothy J. Keller also chairs Redeemer City to City, which establishes new churches and trains pastors. He is also the founder of the Manhattan-based Redeemer Presbyterian Church. In 2020, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

 26 Shirley Caesar

Shirley Caesar
11
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: October 13, 1938
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Durham, North Carolina, USA

Twelve-time Grammy-winning gospel singer Shirley Caesar is also known as The First Lady of Gospel. She began her music career with The Caravans and later went solo, releasing phenomenal hits such as Faded Rose and I Remember Mama. She also established a non-profit to serve the needy.

 27 Barry Minkow

Barry Minkow
5
Famous As: Businessperson
Birthdate: March 17, 1967
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Inglewood

Businessman, felon and pastor, Barry Minkow opened his first business while in high school. But faced with fund crunch, he soon resorted to felony, ultimately executing a massive investment fraud, resulting in imprisonment. Later he became a pastor and fraud investigator, concurrently continuing with his illegal dealings, resulting in another confinement and a sentence to pay $612 million in restitution.

 28 David Jeremiah

David Jeremiah
11
Famous As: Evangelist
Birthdate: February 13, 1941
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Toledo, Ohio, United States

David Jeremiah is an American evangelical Christian author. He is credited with founding Turning Point Radio and Television Ministries which focuses on propagating his sermons through radio and TV. The Turning Point program has earned him many awards including the 2006 National Religious Broadcasters award. David Jeremiah also serves as a senior pastor at the Shadow Mountain Community Church.

 29 Charles R. Swindoll

Charles R. Swindoll
4
Birthdate: October 18, 1934
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: El Campo

Charles R. Swindoll is an evangelical Christian author, pastor, educator, and radio preacher. He is credited with founding Insight for Living which airs a radio program on over 2,000 stations in 15 languages. Over the years Swindoll has received several awards like RHA’s Clergyman of the Year award. He is currently serving as a senior pastor at Stonebriar Community Church. 

 30 John Osteen

John Osteen
21
Famous As: Pastor
Birthdate: August 21, 1921
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paris, Texas, United States
Died: January 23, 1999

Pastor and televangelist John Osteen is best remembered for his 16-year stint on the show John Osteen. He also established the Lakewood Church in Houston and penned countless books, such as Becoming a Man of Unwavering Faith. His son Joel Osteen followed in his footsteps.

 31 Adrian Rogers

Adrian Rogers
5
Famous As: Pastor
Birthdate: September 12, 1931
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: West Palm Beach
Died: November 15, 2005

Adrian Rogers was an American conservative author and Southern Baptist pastor. He was a three-time president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Baptist denomination in the world. From 1972 to 2005, he served as the senior pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church. During his pastorate, the membership of the church grew from 9,000 to 29,000.

 32 Jesse Duplantis

Jesse Duplantis
17
Famous As: Herder
Birthdate: July 9, 1949
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: New Orleans

Jesse Duplantis is a preacher and the founder of Jesse Duplantis Ministries. He hails from the Christian Evangelical Charismatic tradition and is considered a preacher of the prosperity gospel. His ministry owns a private jet that he uses for traveling across the world to preach. He is often criticized for his lavish lifestyle that is mainly funded by people’s donations. 

 33 Paul Washer

Paul Washer
7
Famous As: writer
Birthdate: 1961 AD
Birthplace: United States of America

Paul Washer is an American evangelist who served as a missionary for 10 years in Peru. He is credited with founding the HeartCry Missionary Society in order to support indigenous missionaries. Paul Washer has also written several books, including Truth About Man, The Gospel's Power and Message, and Discerning the Plight of Man.

 34 Mark Driscoll

Mark Driscoll
9
Famous As: Pastor, Writer
Birthdate: October 11, 1970
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Grand Forks

Mark Driscoll is an evangelical pastor and author. He is best known as the founder of Mars Hill Church. He also founded The Resurgence, a theological cooperative, and co-founded  Acts 29 Network, a parachurch organization. He is currently serving as the senior pastor of The Trinity Church in Scottsdale, Arizona. He is the author of several books. 

 35 Louie Giglio

Louie Giglio
6
Famous As: Pastor
Birthdate: June 30, 1958
Sun Sign: Cancer

Baptist pastor Louie Giglio, who founded the Passion Movement, is a bestselling author of books such as Goliath Must Fall and Not Forsaken. Though a great speaker, he has invited criticism for his controversial comments, such as when he suggested that “white privilege” was actually “white blessing”.

 36 Jeremiah Wright

Jeremiah Wright
17
Famous As: Theologian
Birthdate: September 22, 1941
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Philadelphia

Dr. Jeremiah Wright had initially served the Marine Corps before joining the U.S. Navy as a cardiopulmonary technician. He has also been a professor, and his research interests include Black Sacred Music and African diaspora studies. He also led the Trinity United Church of Christ as a pastor.

 37 Gary Chapman

Gary Chapman
2
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: January 10, 1938
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: United States of America

Gary Chapman is an author and radio talk show host. He is best known as the author of The Five Love Languages series regarding human relationships. He has a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in adult education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a popular speaker on topics related to family, marriages, and relationships. 

 38 Alistair Begg

Alistair Begg
4
Famous As: author
Birthdate: 1952 AD
Birthplace: Glasgow

Alistair Begg is an American pastor and author. Since 1983, Begg has been serving as the senior pastor at Cleveland's Parkside Church. His program Truth For Life, which broadcasts his sermons on the radio to stations across North America, is quite popular among his followers. Begg has also penned several influential books like Preaching for God's Glory and Pray Big.

 39 Craig Groeschel

Craig Groeschel
2
Birthdate: December 2, 1967
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Houston

Craig Groeschel is the founder of Life.Church, an evangelical multi-site church with a presence in ten US states. He graduated from Oklahoma City University. Eventually, he began a career as a pastor and attended Phillips Theological Seminary. Along with a few others, he founded Life.Church. The church was named America's Most Innovative Church in 2007 and 2008. 

 40 Bill Gothard

Bill Gothard
4
Famous As: Manager
Birthdate: November 2, 1934
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Illinois

Bill Gothard is a Christian minister, speaker, and writer. He founded the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP). He is a conservative and teaches his followers to memorize the Bible, raise large families, and dress conservatively. In 2014, he was accused of numerous cases of sexual harassment and molestation and had to step down from IBLP. 

 41 Harold Camping

Harold Camping
8
Famous As: Radio personality, Civil engineer
Birthdate: July 19, 1921
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Boulder
Died: December 15, 2013

Californian evangelist and preacher Harold Camping made headlines when he incorrectly predicted the date of the Rapture, or the end of the world, to be May 21, 2011. Initially a civil engineer, Camping later came to be known for leading Family Radio, a Christian broadcast station, in its peak.

 42 Greg Laurie

Greg Laurie
6
Famous As: Pastor
Birthdate: December 10, 1952
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Long Beach

Greg Laurie is an American pastor and author who is currently serving as a pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship. He is also closely associated with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, serving on the association's board of directors. Greg Laurie has also authored over 70 books, including The Upside-Down Church which won a Gold Medallion Book Award in 2000.

 43 Tullian Tchividjian

Tullian Tchividjian
3
Birthdate: July 13, 1972
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Jacksonville

Tullian Tchividjian is an American author and pastor who has written several books about Christianity. He has also contributed to a variety of Christian publications in addition to appearing on several major TV news programs. Tullian Tchividjian is credited with founding an Evangelical Presbyterian Church congregation as well as starting an unaffiliated church named The Sanctuary. 

 44 Mike Murdock

Mike Murdock
10
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: April 18, 1946
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Lake Charles

Mike Murdock had delivered his first sermon at age 8 and begun full-time evangelism at 19. The author of bestsellers such as Wisdom for Winning and Dream-Seeds, he has also writte the Topical Bible series and released gospel tracks. His show Wisdom Keys with Mike Murdock has been a hit.

 45 Juanita Bynum

Juanita Bynum
12
Birthdate: January 16, 1959
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Chicago

Pastor Juanita Bynum has penned several books, such as The Threshing Floor and the No More Sheets series. She has also released gospel albums such as Piece of My Passion. She once revealed in an interview that before her spiritual awakening, she had been a bisexual and had done drugs.

 46 James Lawson

James Lawson
2
Famous As: university teacher, pastor
Birthdate: September 22, 1928
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Massillon

James Lawson is an American professor and activist. A prominent tactician and theoretician of nonviolence, Lawson played a major role during the Civil Rights Movement. In the 1960s, Lawson doubled up as a mentor to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee as well as the Nashville Student Movement. James Lawson also served as a pastor for 25 years.

 47 Jerry Falwell

Jerry Falwell.
19
Famous As: Pastor
Birthdate: August 11, 1933
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Lynchburg
Died: May 15, 2007

Televangelist and religious leader Jerry Falwell Sr. was also a co-founder of the Moral Majority, a political platform for the promotion of conservative Christian ideals. He also established the Liberty University and later tried to revive the PTL after its leader Jim Bakker was accused of rape.

 48 Fred Shuttlesworth

Fred Shuttlesworth
2
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: March 18, 1922
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Mount Meigs
Died: October 5, 2011

Civil rights activist and Baptist minister Fred Shuttlesworth had also co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, along with others such as Martin Luther King, Jr. He also participated in the Freedom Rights and had been the target of a major assassination attempt by the Ku Klux Klan.

 49 Robert H. Schuller

Robert H. Schuller
10
Famous As: Pastor, Non-fiction writer
Birthdate: September 16, 1926
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Alton
Died: April 2, 2015

The founder of the California-based Crystal Cathedral, Robert H. Schuller had begun preaching at a drive-in theater. Later, his weekly TV ministry Hour of Power became hugely popular. He had also penned books such as Tough Times Never Last but Tough People Do and Your Future is Your Friend.

 50 John Ortberg

John Ortberg
2
Famous As: Author, Theologian, Psychologist
Birthdate: May 5, 1957
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Rockford

John Ortberg is an evangelical Christian speaker and author. A prolific writer, John Ortberg's book If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat won the 2002 Christianity Today Book Award. In 2008, his book When the Game is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box won the ECPA Christian Book Award.