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Ten SBC Pastors to Watch in 2010

ten to watch 021.  David Platt – Senior Pastor, The Church At Brook Hills, Birmingham, Ala.
Widely acclaimed as one of the most passionate and mission-minded pastors in the SBC, his sermon at last year’s annual meeting of the SBC left many deeply affected so as not “to die in their religion.” He stepped into the pulpit of the church founded by Rick Ousley and has challenged the congregation to sacrificially give to missions. He recently called for the church to aggressively
serve as foster families.

2.  J.D. Greear – Lead Pastor, The Summit Church, Durham, N.C.
Founding pastor of The Summit Church (a re-plant of an existing SBC congregation), Greear has led the church to become aggressive in planting churches. He has helped plant churches in Richmond, Va. and New York City. He is one of the youngest members of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force, and is vocally committed to the local church as the focus of all ministry. Greear is an advocate of the multi-site church, and his congregation is a member of the Acts 29 church planting network.

3.  Tony Merida – Teaching Pastor, Temple Baptist Church, Hattiesburg, Miss.
Merida has just written a new book on preaching that has gained wide acclaim as one of the best and most accessible books on preaching available to date. The former Dean of the Chapel at New Orleans Seminary, he maintains an active preaching ministry both in his pulpit and throughout
the Southern Baptist Convention. His sermons are notable for their verse-by-verse orientation
and penetrating applications.

4.  Matt Chandler – Lead Pastor, The Village Church, Dallas, Texas
Recently diagnosed with a brain tumor, Chandler’s sermons rank as one of the top downloads on iTunes. Countless thousands have listened to him preach.  The Village Church began as a re-start of an older Southern Baptist congregation. Chandler has worked to create a culture in the church where, in his words, “it is OK not to be OK.”

5.  Jason Brinker – Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, N.C.
Known as America’s youngest city with one of the largest U.S. Marine bases in the world located just miles from its campus, Brinker came to the large and historic Southern Baptist congregation from Harbour Pointe Church just outside Seattle, Wash. Sporting a long goatee, he doesn’t look
like the typical pastor of an established congregation. During his first year of service, the church grew 49.3 percent—making it one of the fastest growing congregations in the United States.

6.  Micah Fries – Senior Pastor, Frederick Blvd. Baptist Church, St. Joseph, Mo.
Recently elected to the leadership of the pastor’s conference of the Missouri Baptist Convention, Fries is recognized as a notable expositional preacher. He gained national attention through his participation of the now defunct SBC Outpost blog. He remains a leading voice for young pastors through his expertise with various forms of media.

7. Ben Mandrell – Senior Pastor, Englewood Baptist Church, Jackson, Tenn.
Mandrell first served on the staff of Union University, and was elected Senior Pastor after serving under the leadership of former pastor, Phil Jett. Mandrell serves as the secretary/treasurer of the SBC Pastor’s Conference, and is noted for his outreach to the university community of Jackson, Tenn. His sermons are widely distributed through various media outlets and his mentorship of college students (especially those preparing for ministry) is well known.

8.  Jimmy Scroggins – Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, West Palm Beach, Fla.
The former Dean of the Boyce College in Louisville, Ky., Scroggins first thought he would serve in the armed forces of the United States. During his short tenure at FBC, he has become well known for his skill of excellent preaching and capacity for administration of a large urban congregation. Scroggins serves as the vice-president of the SBC Pastor’s Conference.

9.  Josh Smith – Senior Pastor, MacArthur Blvd. Baptist Church, Irving, Texas
Son of SBC pastor and evangelist Bailey Smith, Josh Smith serves in the historic pulpit of Ron Dunn, the former pastor at MBBC. He is widely believed to be one of the finest preachers in the Southern Baptist Convention. Under his leadership, the church has experienced a renewal. Worship attendance and conversions have risen under his leadership.

10.  Shane Hall – Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Lawton
Lawton, First is a traditional congregation in a military city (Ft. Sill is nearby). Hall serves as a model for younger pastors who take pastorates of more established congregations. He is a noted leader among older congregations as one capable of leading diverse generations toward renewal and growth.


Author: Staff

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  • Enjoyed the feature on 10 pastors to watch — very well done. One correction on the David Platt listing: Rick Ousley did not found Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, where David is now pastor. A mission-minded group of lay leaders from Dawson Memorial Baptist Church started the church, working with Jesse Palmer as the first staff member. (Jesse had been ed minister at Dawson.) Rick came as pastor about six months after the church was established. (I know this because I was blessed to serve as interim pastor there prior to the time Rick was called as pastor.)

    • Douglas Baker

      Thank you Michael. Our apologies to David and the Brook Hills congregation. In our research we thought Rick Ousley left North Phoenix Baptist Church to found the congregation. Thanks for the correction. I do trust you are well.

  • Corey Olivier

    Was Perry Noble from New Spring Church in Anderson, SC considered?

    • Douglas Baker

      Corey –

      Thanks for your note. Perry is a very capable pastor leading a tremendous congregation for which we are grateful. In our deliberations, we sought to highlight pastors who were not just young (as these ministers are). Rather, we worked to research the impact each of these ministers exerted in their own congregations as well as beyond the borders of their church’s field of service. Some have written books gaining widespread acclaim such as Tony Merida’s new book on preaching. Others hold leadership posts in SBC life such as Jimmy Scroggins and Ben Mandrell (both of whom serve historic SBC congregations). Others such as Shane Hall here in Oklahoma has forged an excellent leadership track record not simply by church planting, but through leadership in more traditional congregations. J.D. Greear serves as a paradigmatic figure in church planting and multi-site congregations. Josh Smith serves in a very historic pulpit and continues to re-vitalize that congregation.

      These names surfaced through both quantitative and qualitative analysis toward a goal of both accurate reporting and the real prospect that in the coming year their influence would be measurably present in SBC life.

      I do hope you might check back with us as we feature some young pastors in Project 2010.


      • Steve Davis

        I want to believe you, but the evidence I see (from my admittedly limited perspective) says that just as the Conservative Resurgence was (necessarily) about exclusion based on theology, the GCR is going to end up being about exclusion based on methodology–and Perry Noble falls on the wrong side of the methodological divide.

  • Thought this article was interesting and refreshing. I am an IMB missionary in Kiev Ukraine that is being impacted by the ministry of Tony Merida and his church in Hattiesburg. He and is church have partnered with us to help train and equip church planters to plant churches in Ukraine and the former Soviet Union. Tony continues to come here to the Kiev Theological Seminary and teach our young church planters.
    His respect for the Word and his passion for reaching the nations is making a difference. May we continue to pray and encourage this new generation of preachers.

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  • My wife and I ‘discovered’ Pastor JD and the Summit church a couple of months ago, and ever since we’ve been asking, “Where has this been our whole lives?”

    God’s doing awesome stuff in Durham/RDU!

  • Dana Neal

    Congrats Shane! Our family loves listening to you every week and we pray for you daily! We are so blessed to have you, Misty and your beautiful girls at our congregation!

  • Dottie Myatt

    How blessed I am to be a member at Englewood where Ben Mandrell is our pastor! He is a gifted communicator who is passionate about reaching and serving a lost world, as well as mentoring and developing future church leaders. He is wise far beyond his years!

  • Ben Richardson

    I’m an Australian who has been tremendously impacted by the preaching of Dr Platt. His Radical sermon series has reshaped my discipleship and that of my wife and is now influencing our friends as well. Watch him closely – his influence is already global! On the other side of the world, he has been used for God’s glory.

    We’ve appreciated Matt Chandler’s sermons a great deal as well and hope he is healed soon to share more of his insight into the gospel.

  • No offense to anyone on this list and I’m trying not to view the list through this lens but it’s hard. No Ed Young, II. No Rick Warren. No Steven Furtick (8th fastest growing church in US). No Troy Gramling (10th fastest growing). No Perry Noble. What do they have in common (besides being more famous nationally that most of the people who made the list?) They are guys who don’t preach “the right way”. From Akin’s GCR sermon (in which he took quite a bit of time to castigate pastors who don’t preach the way he prefers) to lists like this one, it seems the SBC is doing its best to exclude those of us who don’t fit the new official mold. Hope it’s not true, but it’s becoming harder and harder to deny.

  • Mark Nickles

    I am pleased that so many have been touched by the ministry of the pastors mentioned. I must admit, however, to being rather confused regarding the purpose of such an article. I tend to think that it will not expand or improve their ministries.

    When I first saw the article, I thought “10 SBC Pastors to Watch”? Is pastor-watching a hobby or sport with which I was unaware? A “top 10” list seems dangerously close to promoting competition and favoritism, and could reinforce the idea that a pastor at a “large” church is more in God’s will than one which God has chosen to minister to a smaller congregation.

  • I am a pastor and also the moderator for the Muskogee Baptist Association. Each Monday we have a Pastor’s Conference. Yesterday’s meeting’s fellowship time was filled with discussion about this article. Most of the pastor’s there were confused about why an article like this was in the BM. Some went on to say that it was completely inappropriate and they thought it was either vanity or for political reasons that this article was included. Others, like me, skimmed the article but found it irrelevant, but had no particular emotional attachment with it. It wasn’t until I pulled up this comment section that I realize that one of the men is a good personal friend!

    I saw that most of the comments here have been positive. Personally, I don’t think there was any hidden agenda here. I thought, however, that you needed a balanced perspective to know that, at least among pastors, this article wasn’t well received. No, it certainly wasn’t out of jealousy. Without exception, every pastor present told me they would have refused to be included in such a list had they been queried about it. They felt to draw attention to leaders within the Convention is unnecessary; for “we are not professionals”.

    However, one thing is certain: people ARE reading the Baptist Messenger….

    Blessings from Wagoner America

  • Mark Nickles


    I am also a pastor (FBC Keyes, in the Panhandle). The primary problem I have with the article is that we are not supposed to be “watching” men, but our Lord. The list reminded me of those I see in newspapers and other periodicals, dealing with the top athletes to watch, or actors/actresses to watch. It just feels very out of place.

  • Lee Guardison

    Mark Nickles –

    Out of place? Are you kidding? Why is this out of place? No one is suggesting that these people are Jesus are they? One of the very benefits of having a convention of churches together is that we can learn from one another and seek to pray for one another. This list wasn’t called “top ten” but just ten pastors to watch.

    Some of you pastors need to get over yourself. You take yourselves far too seriously! These pastors are doing excellent work and are appreciated by thousands of others who look to them for encouragement and a model for ministry.

    The very idea that you would say “we should be looking to our Lord” seems to me to be overly smarmy and reveals that so many pastors are so very “pious” and “humble” that they balk the moment another pastor is featured as someone to “watch.”

    I hate to bring the Bible into this, but didn’t Paul single out Timothy as someone to “watch” because of his devotion to Christ and the church. Read Phil. 2. What about Epaphroditus? I’ve never seen such a bunch of people who are so very sensitive and (in my opinion) unspiritual.

    This is a newspaper!

    And Rick Boyne – I for one am glad people are reading The Baptist Messenger!!!


  • Mark Nickles


    I would point out that Rick and I neither one were insulting to the particular pastors. I began my first post with how pleased I was that their ministries were meaningful to so many. But we are smarmy? Unspiritual? Why the insults?

  • Lee Guardison

    Mark –

    I was not insulting you. I am not a pastor, but I do keep up with what is going on in Southern Baptist life through the Baptist Messenger. I thought your comments insinuated that the editors of the paper sinned in some way (“pastor-watching”) by listing these men. To me, it was simply nothing more than the facts based on the news of our day. If it offended pastors, I am just not sure why.

    At any rate, I appreciated the list because I didn’t know several on it. After hearing some of them preach I would agree, they are helping shape the SBC. That doesn’t mean that you aren’t important and vital in where and how you serve your congregation.

    No offense –


  • Mark


    I am extremley gratefull god has sent Jason Brinker our way To Jacksonville N.C. We are happy with what the lord is doing through him here. I understand the meaning of your artical, and we all know what Rick Warren means to us as well as numerous other preachers across the country who have and will have large congregations as long as christ in first. I hope we can all be happy that churches are beginning to grow, and that through our young pasters a new age group is being reached.

    Again, Keep up gods work and lets all pray for the pasters of our nations that we keep them focused on the goal. Its not about who is best but it is about doing our best.
    I heard a saying yesterday that fits this pretty good, ” We as people try to use duct tape, but GOD uses Nails”. Stay strong as nails and keep up the good work

    J.R. Jones

  • Mark Nickles

    Thanks for the kind words, J.R. And, let’s be thankful for ALL of our pastors, whether they ever pastor large congregations, or not. It’s not the size of the church, but the ambition for the Kingdom in the hearts of the people that matters.

  • Lee Guardison

    Yes, since some of these pastors selected by The Baptist Messenger aren’t pastors of large congregation, I would think that this is evidence that ALL pastors are to be treasured. Mark – you just can’t get away from your little jabs can you?

  • Mark Nickles


    I’m sorry that you think I’m “jabbing”. Emails can sometimes come across the wrong way, since inflection cannot be communicated. My email is If you wouldn’t mind emailing me your phone number, or giving me your email address so I can email you mine, I would like to talk this out with you, so you can better understand my mindset and where I’m coming from. No way do I want a a flame war on the Baptist Messenger site. Bad witness.

  • Mark Nickles

    Just for clarity, my statement referring to “ALL of our pastors” was related to J.R.’s assertion as to how much “preachers across the country who have and will have large congregations” mean to us. They certainly do…, as do those whom God appoints to a lifetime of ministry among small congregations. This was not a slam on the article, itself.

  • Derek Arnold

    If there is a concern about the GCR, please consider listening to Dr. Akin’s sermon, “Marks of a Great Commission People (Praying for a Great Commission Resurgence for the 21st Century Church)” at I listened to this live at Southeastern while I took a class under Dr. Akin himself.

    Just to clarify, the only castigating I ever heard Dr. Akin do was when 1. one of his students was misrepresenting the Gospel, and 2. When somebody was trying to change the ministry paradigm of their church because of their own preferences. Dr. Akin is a Godly man, and I would be honored to be among his students again.


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  • CJ

    I agree with Mark Nickles competely. My initial thoughts when I read the title, “Ten SBC Pastors to Watch in 2010” was that we should be watching JESUS and not watching pastors.

    We seem to be focussed on systems and methods in growing churches and having a “great” church. I think a great church begins when your eyes are off of people an onto Jesus. And, instead of a lot of worship songs that begin with, “I need you…” let’s have the focus be on HIM and who He is. Our needs and what God does for us is becoming an increasing focus in our self-focussed society.

  • Mark Nickles


    I agree with your assertions. I believe the church has, in part, adapted to the “self-focused society”. Our expectations, and even much of our preaching and teaching, is man-centric, rather than God-centric. In other words, “What can God do for me?”

    Reading the story of Josiah, you find a great lesson in faithfulness for it’s own sake. No other king had more of a heart for God than Josiah. Yet, you couldn’t say his rule was one of the most successful, by earthly standards. God stated that, while he honored Josiah’s faithfulness, he would not withhold punishment from his people. Then, Josiah ended up dying in battle against two sinful rulers. The truth that continued faithfulness may not result in God doing anything for you in a material way, or even removing harmful forces in your life, might not go over too well in many churches today.

    I believe this is largely why deep, impassioned corporate prayer is no longer the norm in so many of our churches.

  • Jill

    Are all of these “top 10” pastors Calvanist? I know Platt is a Calvanist. Just curious.

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