Yesterday I asked the folks on Twitter and Facebook to recommend two books every prospective minister should read. Obviously, the Bible should always be primary, but we would do ourselves a profound disservice to neglect the thoughtful writings of others. Two books are never going to be enough to capture everything a pastor needs to know, and so I’ve compiled the six most frequent answers into the following short reading list for every prospective minister:
Dangerous Calling by Paul David Tripp. Here are a few thoughts from my review:
Dangerous Calling is easily among the most important books I’ve read this year. Although written specifically for pastors, it will be a blessing to both leaders and laity alike as pastors are challenged to examine themselves for the good of their own souls (and the people they serve) and laypeople’s eyes are opened to the unique challenges of pastoral ministry.
Preaching and Preachers by Martyn Lloyd-Jones. From the publisher’s description:
Based on a series of lectures originally given by Lloyd-Jones to the students of Westminster Theological Seminary in the spring of 1969, this collection of essays on the essence of powerful preaching has become a modern classic. Lloyd-Jones defends the primacy of preaching, showing that there is no substitute, and he challenges preachers to take their calling seriously: ‘The most urgent need in the Christian Church today is true preaching.’ He also provides practical direction on the task of preparing a sermon, sharing insights on the shape and form of a message as well as covering such topics as the use of humor, giving invitations in a message and the preacher’s relationship to the congregation. If you can own only one book on preaching, make this the one you read.
The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter. From the publisher’s description:
In his introduction, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” This charge from Acts 20:28 only is the beginning of a solemn and overarching task to be personally involved and disciple all of your congregants. Richard Baxter’s plea for shepherding his flock continues with a charge to pastors to verify their own spiritual walk and then walks them through various disciplines, strategies and goals to guide and instruct their congregation.
Lectures to My Students by Charles Spurgeon. Here’s a favorite passage:
That a teacher of the gospel should first be a partaker of it is a simple truth, but at the same time a rule of the most weighty importance. We are not among those who accept the apostolic succession of young men simply because they assume it…No amount of fees paid to learned doctors, and no amount of classics received in return, appear to us to be evidences of a call from above. True and genuine piety is necessary sa the first indispensable requisite. Whatever “call” a man may pretend to have, if he has not been called to holiness, he certainly has not been called to the ministry.
Christ Centered Preaching by Bryan Chapell. From the publisher’s description:
This complete guide to expository preaching teaches the basics of preparation, organization, and delivery–the trademarks of great preaching. With the help of charts and creative learning exercises, Chapell shows how expository preaching can reveal the redemptive aims of Scripture and offers a comprehensive approach to the theory and practice of preaching. He also provides help for special preaching situations.
The second edition contains updates and clarifications, allowing this classic to continue to serve the needs of budding preachers. Numerous appendixes address many practical issues.
Brothers, We Are Not Professionals by John Piper. From the opening words of the book:
We pastors are being killed by the professionalizing of the pastoral ministry. The mentality of the professional is not the mentality of the prophet. It is not the mentality of the slave of Christ. Professionalism has nothing to do with the essence and heart of the Christian ministry. The more professional we long to be, the more spiritual death we will leave in our wake. For there is no professional childlikeness, there is no professional tenderheartedness, there is no professional panting after God.
What other titles would you add to the list? If you’re a pastor, what books have been most beneficial to you and your ministry?