My favorite preachers are worlds apart in terms of time periods and styles. But, they both have had the greatest impact on my own preaching and ministry.
First, I came to know the Lord under the teaching of Dr. Cliff Estes. Dr. Estes is now an evangelist in Shreveport, La. Unlike my more ‘teacher centered model’, Dr. Estes had a fiery style but was also one of the best at exegesis. I would come home from church as a little boy and set up the living room like church and start to preach. My family grew rather weary of ‘so much church’ on one Sunday.
Second, when I went to theology school, my advisor was a scholar in the sermons of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I had grown up in a community that had struggled greatly with race relations and my church was still segregated. In fact, I left my church at 16 because they refused to allow a friend (who was African American) to join. That is when I became a United Methodist.
However, under Dr. Richard Lischer (Professor of Preaching) at Duke University, I fell in love with the sermons of Dr. King. To me, he was the most powerful ‘preacher’ I have ever heard. I realize there were so many other layers to Dr. King in his amazing work, but his role as preacher truly shaped a generation.