This was a fun list for me to come up with because of the criteria I set for this one. Today I will explore the five people who I would consider an acquaintance (meaning, I have at least met) who do (or have) influence(d) me. The influence may or may not be to follow them, in fact, it may be to do what they have not done, but for whatever reason these folk have played a role in who I am, they have inspired me or they have influenced me to make a specific decision based on what I know of them. It is somewhat random, in that, these are the current folk, I am sure this list will be different in six months.
Without further ado… the current list.
Honorable Mention: Mark Matlock (President of Wisdom Works, author, speaker) and Diane Brask (super-positive rural missions-gal who wants to see the rural parts of America reach the uttermost parts of the rest of the world… great vision).
Five: (TIE) Dan Allender and John MacArthur. Probably the only place you’ll see these two guys listed together! I attended The Master’s College (where Mac serves as President) and finished my Master’s Degree at Mars Hill Graduate School (where Allender served as President). I have had several conversations with John MacArthur (even played hoops against him) and probably conversed with Dan Allender a handful of times (doubt he’d remember me). I love that these two opposites (in many ways) played a role in my overall education. Both “systems” are distinct and I would never classify myself as a “Master’s Guy” or a “Mars Hill Guy.” I would hope that I am simply an “Educated Guy.” Dan Allender exudes grace and taught me more about listening to story (and the stories of others) than anyone (which is an incredible gift to have as a counselor/friend). Dan’s books are excellent and serve the intended audience so well. John MacArthur exudes Scriptural knowledge. I truly appreciate the way he has been able to research and communicate insights into the Word of God. Hardly a sermon-prep session goes by that I don’t use one of his commentaries to see what John had to say about this or that passage.
On the flip side of influence, I have learned well that some of the “followers” of men can be dangerous (doing what they think the chosen “man” might do, instead of making his or her own decision). I like and respect both of these men, however Allenderites and MacArthurites tend to scare me. I am glad that both of these men are strong and courageous in their opinions (I don’t agree with every one of these opinions), but they are his own opinions, too often they become “the way” for their followers (no fault of their own). Those who trust everything a man (or woman) says as Gospel truth ought to be warned… I follow Jesus. I want to be a Jesus-ite.
Four: Mark Driscoll. I have met Mark one time, at a Tully’s Coffee… I thought, “that looks like Mark Driscoll,” so I introduced myself and low-and-behold, it was! Here is a guy who loves Jesus and wants others to know Him well too! As the Teaching Pastor of Mars Hill Church here in Seattle, he is one of the most listened to Pastors around the world. Though his tactics were criticized early on (he used to be known as the cussing Pastor) I can see the changes he has made and greatly respect the fact that he desires to grow the capital C “Church” in unity and influence. He has taken his darts/bullets, and will continue to, but the man can flat-out teach the Word. Though Mars Hill is still young, I believe they are growing in maturity and influence. In addition, Mark is a good writer and his books have influenced me as well.
Three: Mark Oestreicher. Marko and I have met a couple times, with me knowing of him far more than him knowing of me. For years Marko served as the President of Youth Specialties. Marko has maintained a blog for the last few years that I have been faithful to read (and he is the influence for one of my blog contests as well). Though I know our theology and methodologies in Youth Ministry probably differ a ton, I am thankful for his thoughts. I disagree with some of what I have read from him (he tends to be more “emergent” while others would consider me “mainstream” or “evangelical”) but this doesn’t negate his influence…his blogging has had a profound influence on me, Marko is extremely transparent with his post, I have thought, “wow, this guy shares a lot about his own life, family, personal thoughts about YS, etc.”… I think that through this, I have learned to be carefully guarded with how much goes out to the public and whatnot.
The thing I will ALWAYS respect Marko for, while serving as President of THE BIGGEST Youth Ministry resource company in the world, Marko maintained a volunteer role as a small group leader for Jr. High boys at his local church. If you’re going to write about, teach about and lead a ministry about youth, you ought to be involved with youth! Way to go Marko! Marko is now in a time of transition, and is launching a coaching program, please join my in praying for his new endeavors!
Two: Greg Stier. I have had several conversations/interactions with Greg and we have exchanged several emails. Though we are Facebook friends and have several common friends in real life, I can’t really say he and I are friends (yet). Greg runs an organization named, Dare 2 Share. I truly appreciate the ministry of D2S and, while a Youth Pastor, I loaded up the bus and took my students to their events. However, the influence has come more through his blog and a few of the outlandish ideas he has had (which I believe he must have tapped into my head and stolen a few! ha). Though he only writes one or two posts a week, I have appreciated his candor and the personal stories of boldness in sharing the Gospel with those he comes in contact with. As an organization D2S has done a few videos I am very impressed with. On the flip-side, as the economy has had a down-turn the business side of the ministry has suffered and I feel as an upstart ministry (Youthmark) I have been able to observe from the outside and that has influenced some of the decisions I have made! Pray for them in this tough time!
One: Francis Chan. One of my good friends is a close friend to Francis. I believe I have spoken to Francis a couple times and have exchanged an email or two (I asked him to speak at an event); however, I have been frequenting his church (via Podcast and Vodcast). In addition, I have read (most, not quite all yet) of Crazy Love and have recently purchased Forgotten God. Francis is a very gifted speaker and probably connects with a gathering of people better than most communicators I have ever seen. His influence/inspiration comes in a very positive manner. I appreciate his total honesty (he actually admits to his struggles with his relationship with God, family and friends). He desires and strives for integrity. It is obvious he has studied the Word. And I walk away from listening/reading with a desire to be more like Jesus and also see some practical things I’d like to do to become a better speaker, communicator and writer.
I am thankful that I get to spend eternity with Jesus and these folk who have put their faith in Him as well.