“Where Are the Great Preachers Today?”

It was during a Q & A with Fred Craddock, the master preacher and teacher of preachers, following a lecture he had delivered at Vanderbilt Divinity School in the mid 1990s. A retired bishop and friend of mine asked this question: “Where are the great preachers today? We don’t seem to have any Harry Emerson Fosdicks or Martin Luther Kings today.”

The highly regarded and distinguished professor at Candler School of Theology responded something like this: “Well, these are different times and preachers aren’t listened to by the world around us in the same way as when Fosdick and King were preaching. But great preachers are still around.”

He added that the great preachers today are not the ones you see on TV or hear on the radio or read about in the newspapers. They are the unnamed pastors of local congregations, small and large, who Sunday after Sunday enter the pulpit after a busy and turbulent week and faithfully speak the truth borne from immersion in Scripture and the lives of their congregations.

Then Dr. Craddock added, “I suspect that most of the great preachers today don’t have time to write books or do dramatic things that get them in the news. They are too busy getting ready to preach again next Sunday to a world that doesn’t seem to pay any attention; and that’s not easy.”

I was reminded of Dr. Craddock’s comments after hearing two sermons Sunday. One was by Jeff Childress, the pastor at Salem UMC where our family participates. Here is the unedited version of the worship service. The introduction to the Scripture begins at 30 minutes and the sermon at around 40: https://www.facebook.com/Salem-United-Methodist-Church-118087758209677/videos/1589171424747370

The other was the online service from the last congregation I served as pastor, Church Street in Knoxville, TN. The lead pastor and preacher of the day is Catherine Nance: https://www.facebook.com/csumcknoxville/videos/691450538477739

Yes, great preachers are still around! I heard two of them Sunday! Maybe the world needs to pay more attention.

12 thoughts on ““Where Are the Great Preachers Today?”

  1. Ken, I had the privilege of having dinner with another of your many fans last week. Dr Mark Hanshaw and I enjoyed sharing stories about several mutual friends – at least 2 of whom served Church St UMC in Knoxville. Those two were you and Toombs Kay.

    Your post this week re: “where are the great preachers today” was right on target. While I have not (yet) personally witnessed either of those two whom you specifically mentioned, your post caused me to stop and reflect on many others whom I believe fit your description – including, of course, you and Dr Kay, but also several other notables – e.g. our current University Chaplain, Dr. Mike Ripski, and the current senior minister at Lebanon First UMC, Ryan Bennett.

    Thanks for continuing to share your sage insights and always giving us pause for thought. Particularly right now, our World needs more Ken Carders!

    With gratitude – PCS

    Paul C. Stumb, Ph.D. President Cumberland University 615.547.1223


    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Paul! It is so good to hear from you! I agree that Tombs Kay and Mike Ripski fit the description. I do not know Ryan Bennett, but it is the pastors of local congregations who week after week enter the pulpit and share a “Word from the Lord.” I remember with gratitude our times together at Church Street. All the best to you!


  2. Frankly, many of those “big preachers” have a fairly bad track record. However, we have an excellent senior pastor whose sermons are timely, scriptural, and full of vision of what the church needs to be. God bless Catherine Nance!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Ken –

    Thank you SO much for this post. Truly, a gift.

    Laurens and I have Bernie traveling in Canada since August 14th. We have one more week until we return home.

    It has been a refreshing change of pace, scenery and “tone” from the chaotic, angry vitriol of the US. The calm in and among EVERYONE is palpable….and so healing. I/we didn’t realize how worn down our souls were.

    Quebec City is our “home base” while in Canada but we have a rental car and have been out exploring the surrounding parks and areas. We decided to listen to Max Lucados book “Anxious for Nothing” while driving. His words have been such a good reminder of God’s truths and promises. (The book is being studied at Central UMC. I get their weekly newsletter which is how I got the idea!).

    Thank you for lifting up more Godly voices and wisdom for those of us literally clinging to His promises in such turbulent times.

    You are a beacon of hope. I am grateful.

    Blessings –


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you, Ken. I absolutely agree. Hope to check up with you soon. We are pretty sure one of Diane’s sisters has dementia. We are rereading your book. Grace, Peace, and Love, jim


    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s