Type to search

Culture Ministry News

Speaking From the Dead

The sermons and ministries of famous pastors continue after they die.

When Rev. Charles Stanley died this spring, In Touch Ministries announced it would continue operating despite the passing of its founder, distributing his sermons and teachings through a variety of media platforms.

In Touch is not the first ministry to do so. Other prominent ministries have continued for years, even decades, after their founders’ deaths, including, to name a few, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Love Worth Finding with Adrian Rogers, Derek Prince Ministries, and D. James Kennedy Ministries.

The ministries remain relevant based on a few common factors: humility, a willingness to engage the latest delivery platforms, and the centrality of God’s Word. Challenges exist, including facing the future existence of the ministry.

Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee

Vernon McGee died in 1988, and Thru the Bible (TTB) has carried on successfully for 35 years.

TTB’s Vice-President of Communications Barb Peil pointed out that McGee didn’t care about his name being on the ministry. He simply wanted the ministry to be about the Bible.

“Just play the tapes until the money runs out,” McGee said.

Under the current leadership of Gregg Harris, TTB provides a unique product in the Christian broadcasting world—a systematic five-year study of the Bible through broadcasts of McGee’s teachings. The ministry regularly receives correspondence from listeners of all ages testifying to McGee’s continuing impact as they get aboard the “Bible Bus.”

Remaining faithful to its original radio ministry, TTB also delivers the program digitally—online, YouTube, podcast, and the ministry app—and on SD cards with players in places like refugee camps in northern Africa. Its global reach has grown through programming in over 200 languages compared with 35 at the time of McGee’s death.

While TTB owns the content of McGee’s teaching, Peil said the ministry is open-handed with it. It can be found free-of-charge in many places, including the ministry’s website.

“There is no sense of fear for the future. And if [God] should choose to diminish that, we will just close the doors,” Peil said about the attitude of TTB’s board of directors. But right now, there is an excitement at the way God has and is continuing to use the ministry.

“There is [no ministry] healthier than Thru the Bible, both in our resolute and single focus of taking God’s whole word to the whole world, but also in the internal workings,” Peil, who has been with TTB for 10 years, said.

She describes the ministry as financially healthy, with a staff of only 10 people and no large endowment to ensure the future.

TTB is fully dependent on donations. In 2022, it received $29.5 million in revenue and spent $27.8 million on its expenses, 66% of which were global in nature. It uses surpluses for investing in new technology.

In the MinistryWatch database, TTB has a donor confidence score of 82, meaning donors can give with confidence. It also has the highest five-star financial efficiency rating. However, because it does not belong to the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, TTB gets a “D” transparency grade.

Love Worth Finding with Dr. Adrian Rogers

Before he died in 2005, Dr. Adrian Rogers wrote a letter to the Love Worth Finding (LWF) leaders telling them “even though the messenger may be gone, the message is still true and absolute truth.”

LWF is thriving 18 years after Rogers’ death, according to current president Cary Vaughn. He told MinistryWatch LWF finds its hope in God’s Word prospering and accomplishing its purposes just as Isaiah 55:11 declares.

Because Rogers’ expository sermons were based on the “whole counsel of God,” Vaughn said, they remain relevant today. “Real truth never changes,” he added, pointing also to the humility and integrity Rogers displayed in his preaching and life. Rogers’ sermons were “profound truth simply stated” and can be understood by anyone from age 9 to 90.

Since its inception in 1987 as a radio and television ministry featuring Rogers’ sermons, LWF has become a mass communications ministry utilizing channels that may attract new listeners—social media, streaming, a ministry app, and YouTube, where it has reached 19 million views.

LWF continues innovating. A new feature placing 90-second snippets from a sermon on social media garnered over 3 million views. LWF has also developed a resource library for pastors, including the Adrian Rogers Legacy Collection of sermon transcripts and an online training course for bi-vocational pastors.

Media is a significant expense for LWF, so it depends on donations, product sales, and planned giving. Vaughn estimates that about half of its annual budget of $7 million is spent on media.

Rogers’ widow, Joyce Rogers, sits on the LWF board of directors and allows LWF to use the intellectual property content for the benefit of the ministry.

According to Vaughn, the LWF board has never considered closing the ministry. “They know the hand of God has been on this ministry for 40 years,” he explained. “God has affirmed to us that He will grow the ministry. These are the best years, the glory days.”

In the MinistryWatch database, LWF has an “A” transparency grade and a donor confidence score of 90, meaning donors can give with confidence. It has a three-star financial efficiency rating.

Derek Prince Ministries

Twenty years after Derek Prince died, Derek Prince Ministries (DPM) continues sharing his teaching. Early on, DPM leadership questioned whether it should continue, according to current president Dick Leggatt. When they realized there were 7,000 messages from Prince that could be plumbed for more teaching material to share with the world, the question of closing disappeared.

For instance, material for the latest published book came from a message Prince preached decades ago.

When asked why audiences still gravitate to Prince, Leggatt pointed to Prince’s humility. Before he spoke, Leggatt said Prince would literally fall on his face and ask the Lord to speak through him with a message the people needed to hear.

“One of the greatest joys of my life is that there is no shadow over Derek’s life,” Leggatt pointed out, as opposed to other leaders plagued by scandals.

The centrality of God’s Word in his sermons, his sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, and his call to respond make Prince’s teachings relevant and timeless, Leggatt says.

DPM has faced challenges as it is not as well-known as other teaching ministries. Leggatt calls it “one of the best kept secrets in the Christian world,” but he is working to change that.

He also recognizes that some evangelical Christians don’t agree with Prince’s Pentecostal views, his deliverance ministry, and his view of Israel.

DPM has maintained its mission of “reaching the unreached and teaching the untaught” but has adjusted the delivery mechanisms it uses, making content available via various digital delivery options, including social media and YouTube.

Internationally, DPM has seen most growth in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia.

Leggatt has been president of DPM since 2006, but he credits much of the ministry’s growth and longevity to David Selby, Prince’s son-in-law who headed the ministry from its inception.

At one time DPM was primarily supported by product sales for which it owns the rights, but Leggatt said the majority of its annual revenue of $4 million now comes from contributions, both large and small.

Leggatt is optimistic about DPM’s future impact as it “links arms” with like-minded ministries around the world to equip the saints for the work of ministry.

DPM receives an “A” transparency grade and donor confidence score of 96 out of 100 in the MinistryWatch database. It has an overall efficiency rating of two stars.

D. James Kennedy Ministries

The long-time pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Florida, Dr. D. James Kennedy died in 2007, but the broadcasts of his sermons on radio, television, cable, satellite, and the internet continues as D. James Kennedy Ministries (DJKM).

The church’s services were broadcast beginning in 1978 and became a freestanding ministry—Coral Ridge Ministries Media Inc.—in 1996.

One of Kennedy’s most popular programs, Truths that Transform, was designated as the “best radio teaching program” by the National Religious Broadcasters in 2004. Dr. Robert Pacienza, who was mentored by Kennedy, is president and CEO of DJKM and pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. He now hosts the Truths that Transform program.

DJKM’s media ministry has expanded, while still focused on many issues Kennedy addressed when he was alive. As part of its mission “to defend religious liberty,” it recently produced a documentary about threats to religious liberty in the United States.

The D. James Kennedy Center for Christian Statesmanship in Washington, D.C. was inactive for several years but has been restarted. In furtherance of its mission “to support, equip, and empower Christian statesmanship,” Pacienza and the Center’s executive director recently delivered Bibles to freshman members of Congress.

DJKM director of communications told MinistryWatch that in the current economy, it is challenging to raise enough funding to continue ministry operations. In 2022, the ministry had about $5.1 million in revenue but spent $5.36 million. He hopes new projects will “inspire supporters and, we pray, strengthen believers, draw people to Christ, and make a positive influence on America.”

MinistryWatch gives DJKM a donor confidence score of 88 out of 100, meaning donors can give with confidence. It has an “A” transparency grade and three-star efficiency rating.

In Touch Ministries with Dr. Charles Stanley

The plans In Touch Ministries has to continue the work that Dr. Charles Stanley started over 50 years ago are similar to those followed by other successful ministries MinistryWatch spoke to.

Philip Bowen, hand chosen by Stanley, has led In Touch for 10 years. “He is deeply familiar with and dedicated to Dr. Stanley’s heart

and vision for the future of the ministry, as is the Board of Directors,” the website assures supporters.

While continuing to share Stanley’s message on radio and television, it will also use the latest technology and digital delivery systems.

It also plans to extend its audience. “Dr. Stanley’s timeless teachings are our springboard from which we will launch new content and resources designed to reach even the youngest among us,” the website reads.

Stanley’s influence during his ministry included authoring over 70 books, serving as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, forming the Christian Coalition and Moral Majority, and growing First Baptist Atlanta to 15,000 members. He also faced a personal crisis when his wife Anna filed for divorce in 1993.

Financially, In Touch is a giant compared to the other preaching ministries that have continued for decades.

In 2021, it had over $133 million in revenue and $141 million in net assets. It spent $110 million last year on the services it offers, like articles, devotions, and media programming.

In Touch Ministries earned the 2022 Shining Light Award from MinistryWatch. It receives an “A” transparency grade, a five-star financial efficiency rating, and a 96 donor confidence score.

Access to MinistryWatch content is free.  However, we hope you will support our work with your prayers and financial gifts.  To make a donation, click here.

Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a freelance writer who holds a Juris Doctorate from Baylor University. She has home schooled her three children and is happily married to her husband of 25 years. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, gardening, and coaching high school extemporaneous speaking and debate.