10 books every pastor should readI came across a survey recently by the Barna research group. The survey consisted of several stats regarding pastors and the books that they read and purchase. On average, pastors purchase 45 different titles a year. That is considerably more than the average reader across the board. This statistic got me thinking about books and reading.

So, if you are a reader, this post is for you. If you are a pastor and not a big reader, I encourage you to begin reading. Reading is essential to good leadership. Here are the top 10 books that I would recommend for pastors to read:

  1. Gospel by J.D. Greear – J.D. Greear nailed it with this one. I am not sure that any book (outside of the Bible) has influenced my ministry as much as this book. It is saturated with the Gospel. It is filled with challenges for the reader to become Gospel centered in everything that they do. The Gospel prayer that is in this book is a prayer that all believers (not  just pastors) should pray daily. It is a great read, and I encourage you to check it out.
  2. Dangerous Calling by Paul Tripp – This is my most recent read. I seriously just finished this book last week. This should tell you how good it really was that it jumped to #2 on my list even though I just finished it. It is great! This is the best “pastoral” book that I have ever read. Tripp is not afraid to challenge the pastor in their personal life. Pastors, be prepared to wear your “steel toed boots” for this one. The highlights of this book for me are found in the chapter on the glory of God vs self promotion and self-gratification. I also enjoyed the chapter on how pastors live differently in the pulpit than outside of the pulpit to their families. This challenged me deeply.
  3. Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley – Pastor, do you want practical? Andy writes this book from a practicality standpoint and from a transparent standpoint. This book was difficult to put down. This book will challenge you to think about your church, its events, its hospitality, and its methods from  the viewpoint of a non-church goer. This book will challenge every pastor to be cautious of evangelism in every facet of the weekend worship services.
  4. Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem – This was a Christmas gift that I received last year, and it quickly became my favorite theology book. I love it. Grudem summarizes and condenses the different doctrines as well as anyone. Great read for deeper study for pastors.
  5. The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel – This is a book that will challenge pastors to sincerely grow in their faith. It comes from the idea that many Christians say with their words that they believe in God, but deny Him by their actions. This book is not just for pastors, but for all Christians, but I still would add this to the list for pastors. Groeschel is one of my favorite writers out there. I usually try to read all of his stuff.
  6. Think Orange by Reggie Joiner – This book is a must read for all church leaders. It is a great read that will challenge the church to evaluate the family ministry dynamic in their church. All pastors should read this, and encourage their staff to create a family ministry culture from the nursery all the way up to the student ministry.
  7. Simple Church by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger – This book is all about making disciples and getting churches to return to the Biblical roots of making disciples. Rainer and Geiger do a fantastic job with this book. The book will challenge readers to simplify their ministry instead of complicating it. Churches today think the answer to everything is another program on the calendar, and that is not always the case.
  8. Preaching the Cross by Mark Dever and others – This book is a great read, and I highlighted thoughts in this book as much as any other book. I received it from my cousin’s husband (is that my cousin now, I am confused) when I was ordained for the ministry. This book will challenge your preaching like no other book.
  9. Developing the Leader within you by John Maxwell – No other book has challenged me more in my leadership than this read by Maxwell (the man when it comes to writings on leadership). I have read several of his books, and this one is my favorite.
  10. Center Church by Tim Keller – This book is phenomenal. The main takeaway of the book is to do Gospel centered ministry right there in your own city. Usually churches are better about ministry across the world than they are in their back door. Keller nails it with this book.

[Question] What books would you add to this list? Comment below with your answer.

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5 thoughts on “10 Books Every Pastor Should Read

  1. Interesting that you have no classics. I would want to add Mere Christianity, J Oswald Sanders, Spiritual Leadership, Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Church, Tim Keller’s The Reason for God (so, OK, not all mine are classics either. LOL), Richard Baxter’s, The Reformed Pastor, Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship, and Nouwen’s The Wounded Healer.

  2. Lectures to My Students–Spurgeon; Joy Unspeakable–D.M. Lloyd-Jones; The Divine Conquest–A.W. Tozer; Jesus Himself–Andrew Murray; The Law of Liberty in the Spiritual Life–Evan H. Hopkins; The Christian in Complete Armour–William Gurnall; The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church–Roland Allen; The Life of God in the Soul of Man–Henry Scougal.
    James Houston makes a great suggestion to his readers–he says allow yourself one Christian book written after 1900 for every two Christian books written before 1900, and your spiritual growth will be far greater.

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