Max Lucado

September 29, 2011
Max Lucado Pro Ecclesia Winner

Pro Ecclesia // Medal of Service

Individual whose broad contributions to Christian ministry have made an immeasurable impact

Max Lucado

  • Named "America's Best Preacher" and "America's Pastor" by Reader's Digest and Christianity Today
  • Only author with four Christian Book of the Year awards, and has sold more than 100 million products -- including 80 million books
  • An alumnus of Abilene Christian University, he serves as minister of preaching at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, where he has been since 1988
  • Through Lucado's UpWords Ministry, inspirational radio messages can be heard in over 1,400 radio markets around the world
  • He and his wife, Denalyn, reside in San Antonio. They have three grown daughters: Jenna, Andrea and Sara, BS '11.

Now one of the world's most influential writers, Max Lucado experienced a few setbacks in trying to get his first book published -- 14 of them, to be exact. In the early 1980s, as an associate minister in Miami, Fla., Lucado wrote columns for the church bulletin. He later formed these into a book manuscript while serving as a missionary in Brazil. By 1983, he had submitted his work to 14 publishers. All declined. 

But his perseverance paid off. Tyndale House, the 15th one, said yes. On the Anvil was published in 1985, and now, more than 25 years later, Lucado has 75 books and projects to his credit, with more than 100 million products sold (including 80 million books).

"All my books over the years have come out of sermons that were well received by our congregation at Oak Hills," explains Lucado, who grew up in Andrews, Texas. "I think some of us are called to put the cookies on the lower shelves, so that people who don't have the time or the interest in academic books can have access to them. And that comes from being a pastor, preaching and putting sermons in a form where people will listen and remember them."

Lucado says his unique relationship with his current congregation at Oak Hills Church, which has grown to 8,000 members and five campuses, has allowed him time to pursue his ministry of writing. He started in 1988, and after two years, he says it made sense for him to return his salary to the church in exchange for their blessing to write as much as he needed. 

Lucado's latest book release is God's Story, Your Story, an overview of the entire New Testament. Of his own works, his two favorites are No Wonder They Call Him the Savior and a children's book, You Are Special, a parable that tells a story of God's love without using any religious language. The book has been translated into a dozen languages, used in schools and libraries, and Lucado says someone even used it to start a ministry in China based on the work.

"No Wonder They Call Him the Savior was the first legitimate book where I had a fully planned out work, so it's special to me for that reason. As for You Are Special, I really feel kin to that project because I never expected it to have the impact that it's had," explains Lucado. "It's easily transferable from culture to culture, even in places that are resistant to religious instruction. A congressman read the whole book to the United States Congress. Who would have thought that would happen?"

In a family with four Abilene Christian University graduates, Lucado expected Sara, the youngest of his three daughters, to follow suit. Instead, she chose Baylor and graduated in May.

"We have been so impressed with the campus and the faculty, and the overall experience at Baylor. My wife and I have been treated like Baylor exes. We felt like we were." 

Lucado has had occasion to visit Baylor many times, experiencing Homecomings and Sing competitions while visiting his daughter. Over the past four years, he's twice spoken at Baylor Chapel and delivered the 2009 Ferguson-Clark Author Lecture.

"I think I can still taste the Dr Pepper ice cream floats. That was really the highlight," Lucado jokes. "And of course, the new president and I are friends. He's spoken at our church at least twice. Judge Starr is and will be a great contributor to Baylor, and I just think the world of him.

"I'm very thankful to Baylor, very humbled by this recognition, and I know there are many, many, many servants more worthy of something like this than I, but I'm very grateful."