7 Types of Books All Pastors Should Read (and some recommendations)

You’ve heard this before: leaders are readers. But as pastors, what kinds of books should we be reading? My hunch is that most of us pastor types tend to mainly read books on ministry or books that have to do with ministry. Other kinds of books just fall by the wayside. But they shouldn’t.

7 Types of Books All Pastors Should Read

I believe strongly that pastors who read widely are at a greater advantage than those who read narrowly. By reading widely, we give ourselves to other points of view on various topics, we begin to explore topics and issues we wouldn’t have on our own, and we are reminded that the world is bigger than our own perspective and ideas.

7 Types of Books All Pastors Should Read (and some recommendations)

1. Read the Bible, Books on Biblical Studies, and Books on Theology

Make a plan when you’ll sit down and read Scripture. Set aside the time. Make it happen. Otherwise, it won’t happen.

In addition to daily Bible reading, do something you may have wanted to avoid since Seminary or Bible College. Pick up one of those stuffy biblical studies or theology books. Don’t get a popular level one, but grab the academic one.

By doing so, you’ll be reminded of the nuance of theology and be given fresh insight into how someone reads a particular passage or book of the Bible.

A few recommendations:

Christian Standard Bible

Cruciformity: Paul’s Narrative Spirituality of the Cross by Michael J. Gorman

The Atonement: Its Meaning and Significance by Leon J. Morris

2. Read Biographies

We have a lot to learn from those who have gone before us. By reading biographies, we can learn not only about the subject, but we can learn about ourselves and others around us.

Biographies remind us that God has been up to something for far longer than we’ve been alive. They can encourage us to address the challenges before us with vigor, tact, and boldness.

A couple recommendations:

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

Debating for God: Alexander Campbell’s Challenge to Skepticism in Antebellum America by Richard J. Cherok

3. Read Relationship Books

Some pastors are wired in a way that makes them “people persons.” But not all pastors are that way. And even those who are “people persons” need to be given more tools in how to relate well to and love others.

A couple recommendations:

The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Use discernment, as always.

4. Read Spiritual Growth Books

We need to be challenged and encouraged in our own walk with the Lord. In addition to reading the Bible and more scholarly books as outlined in the first section above, be sure to read books by authors who will feed your soul.

A powerful thing to do with these books is to read them with others and discuss the content.

A few recommendations:

Crucified to Life: What Abundant Life in Christ Really Looks Like by Brandon Kelley

God’s Pursuit of Man by AW Tozer

The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

5. Read Church Leadership and General Leadership Books

As John Maxwell says, “everything rises and falls on leadership.” As pastors and stewards of God’s local church, we have a responsibility to do what we do with excellence.

There is a lot for us to learn from both Christian leaders and non-Christian leaders. And I’ll mention this again: as always, use discernment. Because leadership in the kingdom of God is the way we as Christ followers lead. That means we are servants first and foremost.

A few recommendations:

Unreasonable Churches by Rich Birch

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell

Seven Practices of Effective Ministry by Andy Stanley

6. Read Fiction Books

This is an area I struggle with but I am beginning to explore some authors and books to check out. I loved hearing what author N.D. Wilson had to say on the Reading Writers Podcast about fiction books and why we should read them.

I got the following recommendation from the conversation I linked to above. I’m looking forward to getting into it.

The Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis

7. Read Preaching Books

As preachers, we should always be learning about preaching.

We’ve outlined a number of great preaching books to check out. You can read about those here.

What Kinds of Books Do You Make a Point to Read?

Join the conversation and let us know. You can do so on social media: Join our Facebook Group, tweet us, or post on our Facebook Page. We would love to connect!

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Written by Brandon Kelley

Brandon Kelley is the co-founder of Rookie Preacher and the author of Preaching Sticky Sermons and Crucified to Life. He serves as the Spiritual Development Pastor at a fast growing church in Batavia, Ohio, called The Crossing. Among the many things he does at The Crossing, serving on the teaching team is one of them. He also writes at BrandonKelley.org. You can follow him @BrandonKelley_. Watch his sermons here.