In a recent episode of Ask Me Anything, a regular featured segment on Greear’s personal website, he was asked to name those who have most influenced his ministry. The list of names is quite telling, as he admits that Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll, and Rob Bell were instrumental in the early formation of his theology. Founding member of The Gospel Coalition and signer of the ecumenical Manhattan Declaration, Bryan Chappell gets a major nod, along with Haddon Robinson, the Harold J. Ockenga Distinguished Professor of Preaching at Gordon Conwell (deceased). He admits that it took 15+ years of listening to a wide range of teachers before he found his voice, which has been primarily shaped by one man, as Greear explains:
Without any question the biggest shaping influence is Tim Keller. He’s not even Baptist- he’s a Presbyterian but it’s his approach to the text and the gospel….that all the scriptures are there not to give you an example but to give you a savior to adore. It’s been pretty profound, in fact I kinda joke now that I pre-plagiarize Tim Keller- meaning that sometimes before I’ve even heard him teach through a text I end up coming up with an outline that’s like what he ends up doing…I listen to him so much that his thinking has infiltrated mine…Tim Keller is humongous. I look at my sermons like BC and AD, and Tim Keller’s preaching is right in the vortex of all that.
While Greear gives a fleeting, honorable mention to John MacArthur’s expository skills, he insists that David Jeremiah and Tony Evans have been great examples because they don’t just try to exegete the text, but instead preach as leaders who want to disciple people. Pastor Greear adds that as a preacher your job is not so much to exegete text as it is to disciple people. This concept changed everything for Greear, as he admits that it’s not nearly as important to uncover the meaning of the scripture as it is to affect lives.
Greear credits Andy Stanley as shaping his communication skills, hailing him as “the greatest communicator in America, secular or Christian.” While he admits that he differs with Stanley on some issues, Greear confesses that when Andy is preaching he just has to lean into that radio as close as he can get so as not to miss anything because “this is gonna change my life….he really understands how lost people think.” It never occurs to J.D. Greear why it is that Andy Stanley really understands how lost people think.
Last but not least on the list of men who have deeply influenced J.D. Greear’s ministry is the man he refers to as “the disciplemaker,” Rick Warren. Greear says that whenever Warren writes an application point he never puts it in terms of the Bible character but in terms of the person, thereby leading you to something rather than simply explaining the text. Pastor Greear admonishes the preacher to, ”Remember: our goal is disciple-making, not information transfer. Warren says that, in general, sermon points shouldn’t be about the Bible character, but about the audience.”
For anyone still wondering what in the world happened to Pastor J.D. Greear, there you have it.
Resource link (9.57 minutes):
[Editor’s Note: Contributed by Toni S. Brown]