Since 1868, First Dallas has experienced the blessing of strong, godly leadership. Three in particular have stood the test of time, and under their faithfulness, God has grown and built his church in ways the eleven founders never fathomed.

In 1897, the search for a new pastor commenced, and God led the committee to George W. Truett. He was in constant demand to preach, hold revivals, and deliver speeches all over the state and beyond. As one friend described him at his passing, “he loved the soul of men with a passion beyond any man I have ever known in my life…He sought them out anywhere, on the decks of ships, on speeding trains, in railway stations, anywhere, he was the great searcher for souls.” As the pastor during the first and second world wars, he led the congregation in ministering to the troops, and even went to preach overseas at the request of President Woodrow Wilson. He had a passion to encourage the church to give generously to further local ministry and foreign missions. At the end of his life, Truett was known as one of the greatest preachers of the nineteenth century, and served as the pastor of First Baptist Dallas for 47 years. 

As First Dallas marched forward, God called W.A. Criswell to the pulpit in 1944. “Into all the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ” – these words summarize and encompass all of the ministry of Criswell. Dr. Criswell had a heart for families. Under his leadership, the church underwent several building projects, all for the purpose of expanding space for Sunday School, music and worship, fellowship, children’s and youth facilities, and recreation, including a bowling alley, skating rink, and two gyms. He also toured the world multiple times, taking the gospel as far as the Lord allowed. He served for over 50 years in the pulpit, and God called him home in 2002. 

In August 2007, God called Dr. Robert Jeffress to the pulpit of First Baptist Dallas. Dr. Jeffress stepped into his new role and cast a vision for the future – a recreated campus, an oasis in the heart of the downtown Dallas, a way to grow and build the church in a new generation. In 2013, we unveiled our $135 million recreated campus, the largest building project in modern church history. Once finished, ministry exploded.

Under the leadership of Dr. Jeffress, First Baptist Dallas has experienced unprecedented growth and its largest attendance in its history. Dr. Jeffress has led the church to be frontrunners of taking the gospel to the world through Pathway to Victory and the First Dallas iCampus. And he has stepped forth as a voice for God’s Word on public platforms in our nation, including opportunities on numerous news outlets and even in our nation’s capitol. 

A strong church requires the leadership of faithful men called by God to further His kingdom all for His glory. These three pastors have served 110 years of our 150-year history, and we look forward to what God will do through their legacy in the years ahead.