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New Era, Old Models: Top 10 Christian Leaders of All Time

New Year, Old Models: Top 10 Christian Leaders of All Time

Editor’s Note: In this feature, Pam Williams lists what she believes to be the top 10 Christian leaders of all time. We invite you to share your thoughts, discuss and add your own Top 10 in the comment section below. 

No doubt, the greatest Christian Leader of all time is Jesus of Nazareth, the Savior of the world. As time passes, we are blessed by the influence of certain other Christian leaders that leave a legacy unparalleled by any other. No matter what the denomination, most will agree that some Christian leaders have had a huge impact on our community, our nation, and even our world. As I look at all the Christian leaders that have been and even still are today, I have chosen those that I believe are ten of the most influential Christian leaders of all time.

Elder John Leland (1754-1841)

John Leland was a faithful minister of the gospel for 67 years. Leland was what some would call a “circuit preacher,” traveling on foot or horseback from Massachusetts to South Carolina. He traveled more than a hundred thousand miles in his preaching journeys [1]. He was most famous for his plight for religious freedom in the United States of America. In 1787, Leland was a great supporter of James Madison as he pursued his election to the Virginia Convention to ratify the U.S. Constitution and to adopt the Bill of Rights. He endorsed Mr. Madison and convinced many fellow Baptists to do the same because he knew Madison would pursue a federal amendment for religious freedom. Elder Leland spent more than 60 years fighting for what has commonly been called “separation of church and state” in the United States today. Elder Leland wrote his own epitaph: “Here lies the body of John Leland, who labored 67 years to promote piety and vindicate the civil and religious rights of all men.” [2]

William Carey (1761-1834)

A self-taught English cobbler, William Carey set out to evangelize the people of India. When Carey was called to missions, the vision of world evangelism was not clear in England. He was, in fact, considered to be the father of modern Protestant missions. Carey’s first six years on the field were nothing short of outrageously awful. He survived malaria, dysentery and cholera. During his years in Bengal, he and his family tolerated inhabitable conditions, disease, grief and wild animals. He buried two wives and one young child in the field.

  • Williams Carey was best known for penning the original translations of the Bible into Bengali, Oriya, Marathi, Hindi, Assamese and Sanskrit, and parts of it into 29 other languages and dialects.
  • Carey was co-founder of Serampore College and a member of the Baptist Missionary Society.
  • One Famous Quote of William Carey is: “I can plod, I can persevere to any definite pursuit.”

Dr. Jerry Falwell (1933-2007)

Dr. Falwell had a vision to train young people for Christ. He was a faithful husband, father and grandfather, as well as a servant for the Lord. In 1985, he hoped to see Liberty University train 50,000 students. Today more than 70,000 students are enrolled in onsite and offsite classes, thereby fulfilling his vision. Dr. Falwell often took heat for his pro-life, pro-family, and favor for a national defense stance but stuck to his guns. He was a strong supporter of seeing Ronald Reagan elected as President of the United States.

  • Dr. Falwell was best known for his radio and television ministry “Old Time Gospel Hour” and as the founder of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.
  • Dr. Falwell was also the founder of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va.
  • Dr. Falwell often said that his heart was to “train young Champions for Christ.”

Rev. Billy Graham

Billy Graham is an Evangelist, best known for his televised crusades. He preached the message of Christianity for forty years. He was advisor to several American Presidents. It is believed that he has led thousands to profess Jesus Christ as personal Savior.

Rev. Jesse Jackson

As a civil rights activist and minister, Rev. Jackson has been in the limelight for both for his accomplishments and for his controversial stand on popular political topics. He was with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., at his march in Selma, Ala. And in the 1980s, he became the leading spokesman for African Americans.

  • Rev. Jackson is best known for his civil rights activism but also twice ran for President of the United States.
  • Rev. Jackson is founder of Rainbow/PUSH Coalition whose goal is to seek equal rights for African Americans and women.
  • One famous quote of Rev. Jackson is: “We must not measure greatness from the mansion down but from the manger up.” [3]


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Pam Williams is a wife, mom and grandmom. She and her Pastor-husband serve together at Selah Mountain Ministries in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is a freelance writer and Christian blogger and hosts a weekly online radio broadcast as well. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Christian Education.Other interests include bird-watching, gardening, crafting and technology. Her motto is “Christianity is not for just once a week; Christianity is for Every Day.”