We asked 35 Christian leaders, “Who is the influencer with the biggest impact on your life and ministry?” Most of these leaders listed several influential thinkers, writers, innovators, and leaders more of us should get to know. This response is from Casey Tygrett, spiritual formation pastor with Parkview Christian Church, Orland Park, Illinois.
Neal Windham, professor of spiritual formation at Lincoln (Illinois) Christian University and Seminary, is a mentor, friend, and a true gift to know. Neal has a way of speaking about spiritual formation that is biblically thorough and paired with a deep sensitivity to what it means to be human, made in the image of God, in a real and tense world. He is an example of one who walks with peace because he walks with Jesus.
Michael Kimpan, executive director of The Marin Foundation, is a personal friend and someone leading the discussion of loving others well, especially those with whom we disagree. Michael gives a different approach to the way churches, individuals, and communities deal with difficult conversations about human sexuality.
Ruth Haley Barton is founder of the Transforming Center. Very few have written about the intersection of formation and leadership with the guts and soul Ruth demonstrates. Her graceful approach, along with her significant structural and procedural understanding of leadership, make her books gifts to be celebrated by any leader.
James Bryan Smith, author and executive director of the Apprentice Institute, is a scholar and practical writer on spiritual formation—a gifted mix that is hard to come by, but Smith is that and more. His Apprentice Series of books is one of the best on how to develop the character of Jesus in a way that makes sense in the real world.
Richard Rohr is a writer and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation. He is a firebrand Franciscan priest with a significant voice on the way we understand and develop on the journey with God. Though I don’t land on the same page with him on many things, I find even in the disagreement there is goodness to be found. His book Falling Upward is a powerful work for those who are in a place of transition in their relationship with God.