(Christian Century) What One Book Do Pastors Need to Read?

“If you had to choose one book to help a person embarking on pastoral ministry, what would it be?” We posed that question to some pastors and professors. Here are their choices:

See what you make of the choices and tell us what choice you would make.


Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Books, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Theology

5 comments on “(Christian Century) What One Book Do Pastors Need to Read?

  1. Dan Crawford says:

    George Bernanos’ The Diary of a Country Priest.

  2. Steven says:

    [i]The Hammer of God[/i], Bo Giertz.

  3. Karen B. says:

    Wow… so many chose fictional novels.

    I’d love to see the choices of more orthodox folks, a mixture of Anglicans and evangelicals, people like +Bob Duncan, +Martyn Minns, +John Guernsey, JI Packer, John Piper, Al Mohler…

    Curious what your choice would be Kendall, will you tell us?

    I’m not a “pastor,” but as a non-seminary-trained laywoman in full-time ministry, here are a couple of books I consider essential and have found helpful in shaping my ministry:

    The Bible! 🙂 We’ll assume that’s a “given” (though among some of the pastors interviewed for the article, one can not always be sure of that!)

    Tozer: the Pursuit of God
    Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Discipleship
    Richard Foster: Celebration of Discipline
    CS Lewis: the Screwtape letters
    Brother Lawrence: The Practice of the Presence of God

    Basically I subscribe to Scottish Preacher Robert Murray McCheyne’s philosophy. McCheyne is quoted as having said: “The greatest need of my people is my personal holiness.” And I’ve found that true over the years… when I’m abiding closely in Christ and growing in my walk with Him, I’m a better minister of the Gospel. If I’m not nurturing my personal relationship with Christ, all the head knowledge and books mean little… So I value most highly books that have spurred me on to grow deeper in my life in Christ.

  4. Karen B. says:

    Thought of one more book for my list:
    John Piper’s Desiring God

    (Piper’s [i]Future Grace[/i] also has been hugely influential in my life and ministry, helping me understand the practical power of how believing God’s promises breaks the power of sin in our lives… the idea of looking ahead to a better reward, not settling for, or being satisfied with, the passing pleasures of the world)

  5. Ralph says:

    I’d also suggest the Bible as the one book to read.

    I gather that the seminaries teach Holy Scripture by means of overview “survey” courses that don’t require any reading of the Bible at all. Instead, they read books ABOUT the Bible. Thus, some young people don’t get an opportunity to study the Bible in depth, make the thought connections, and learn application necessary for successful Christian ministry.

    In some seminaries, you can even get by without any basic Greek or Hebrew.