2023 Must-Read Books for Pastors and Preachers

leadership preaching Aug 18, 2023

Every year I love to ask other pastors, preachers, and church leaders about their best book recommendations. What comes from it is a mix of new books and old books. The reasons for their recommendations vary and I always have a few to add into the mix.

So if you're looking for some books to add to your reading list, consider these ones that come recommended from fellow ministers of the gospel.

2023 Must-Read Books for Pastors and Preachers

Preacher and Prayer by E.M. Bounds

From Amazon: Study universal holiness of life. Your whole usefulness depends on this, for your sermons last but an hour or two; your life preaches all the week. If Satan can only make a covetous minister a lover of praise, of pleasure, of good eating, he has ruined your ministry. Give yourself to prayer, and get your texts, your thoughts, your words from God. Luther spent his best three hours in prayer.

Reading the Bible for a Change by Ray Lubeck

From Amazon: Which Bible passages are for Christians today and which relate only to ancient readers? Can I simply pick and choose for myself the verses I think best fit my situation? Who gets to decide? Is there a different meaning for each individual reader? What am I supposed to know to read the Bible well?

Ray Lubeck has devoted his life to helping others discern for themselves God’s truth in the Scriptures and to showing them how it relates to their everyday lives. Reading the Bible for a Change will guide you in how to:

•Read each biblical passage in light of its literary style and larger context
•Ask and explore the most fruitful questions for understanding the meaning of a passage
•Avoid common interpretive mistakes
•Hear God, the divine Author, speak through the Bible’s human authors
•Identify the life-changing truths of Scripture that apply to life today
•Move beyond merely reading the Bible to being shaped by and following it

Trust: Knowing When to Give It, When to Withhold It, How to Earn It, and How to Fix It When It Gets Broken by Dr. Henry Cloud

From Amazon: New York Times bestselling author, psychologist, and leadership expert Henry Cloud equips us to understand and manage trust for successful relationships through five foundational aspects.

Trust is the fuel for all of life. We are wired biologically, neurologically, emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically to trust. Trust is the currency that drives every relationship, beginning with the foundational bond between infants and their mothers, extending to the trust networks that undergird every human endeavor – art, science, commerce – and binding together every relationship we have ever had or ever will have. Nothing in our world works without trust.

Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity by Eugene Peterson

From Amazon: American pastors, says Eugene Peterson, are abandoning their posts at an alarming rate. They are not leaving their churches and getting other jobs. Instead, they have become "a company of shopkeepers, and the shops they keep are churches." Pastors and the communities they serve have become preoccupied with image and standing, with administration, measurable success, sociological impact, and economic viability.

The Imperfect Pastor by Zack Eswine

From Amazon: Dear Pastor,

Desire burns within you. You’ve trained and dreamt of doing large things in famous ways as fast as you can for God's glory. But pastoral work keeps requiring your surrender to small, mostly overlooked things over long periods of time.

You stand at a crossroads. Jesus stands with you. You were never meant to know everything, fix everything, and be everywhere at once. That's his job, not yours.

So what now? Let the apprenticeship begin.

Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ by Dallas Willard 

From Amazon: Renovation of the Heart is an influential contribution from the late Dallas Willard that continues to break ground twenty years after its first release.

Helping us to understand how character is formed and where Jesus does his most significant work on our spiritual and emotional health, this book changed a generation’s mind about what it means to follow Jesus―not a matter of sin management but a matter of drawing near and letting ourselves be shaped into the eternal people of God.

Move: What 1,000 Churches Reveal about Spiritual Growth by Greg L. Hawkins and Cally Parkinson 

From Amazon: One of the church’s primary responsibilities is to foster genuine spiritual growth in people’s lives. Today’s pastors bring tremendous effort and passion to this task, but they are often disappointed by people who sit in the pews for years, knowing about Jesus but never really knowing him. In 2004, Willow Creek Community Church in suburban Chicago undertook a three-year study to measure spiritual growth called the REVEAL Spiritual Life Survey. Over the next six years, additional data was collected from over a quarter million people in well over a thousand churches of every size, denomination, and geographic area. Move presents verifiable, fact-based, and somewhat startling findings from the latest REVEAL research, drawing on compelling stories from actual people—congregation members of varying spiritual maturity, as well as pastors who are equally candid as they share their disappointments and their successes. It provides a new lens through which church leaders can see and measure the evidence of spiritual growth. The local church is uniquely equipped to foster spiritual growth and challenge people to pursue a life of full devotion to Christ. Move helps pastors and church leaders inspire and direct that challenge with confidence as they lead their congregations to move closer to Christ.

A Tale of Three Kings: A Study in Brokenness by Gene Edwards

From Amazon: This best-selling tale is based on the biblical figures of David, Saul, and Absalom. For the many Christians who have experienced pain, loss, and heartache at the hands of other believers, this compelling story offers comfort, healing, and hope. Christian leaders and directors of religious movements throughout the world have recommended this simple, powerful, and beautiful story to their members and staff. You will want to join the thousands who have been profoundly touched by this incomparable story.

Jesus the Bridegroom: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told by Brant Pitre

From Amazon: The bestselling follow-up to Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist. Includes a reader's guide and an excerpt from Pitre's The Case for Jesus

Jesus the Bridegroom, Brant Pitre once again taps into the wells of Jewish Scripture and tradition, and unlocks the secrets of what is arguably the most well-known symbol of the Christian faith: the cross of Christ. In this thrilling exploration, Pitre shows how the suffering and death of Jesus was far more than a tragic Roman execution. Instead, the Passion of Christ was the fulfillment of ancient Jewish prophecies of a wedding, when the God of the universe would wed himself to humankind in an everlasting nuptial covenant.

On Preaching: Personal & Pastoral Insights for the Preparation & Practice of Preaching H.B. Charles Jr.

From Amazon: Preaching Magazine's 2015 Book of the Year

If you are a pastor, you know the importance of preaching. You have spent time learning and refining the art of preaching because it is vital to the life of God's people—including the preacher. But you probably also find it challenging.

On Preaching is a masterful resource that will refresh your soul and revitalize your preaching ministry.

The Care of Souls by Harold L. Senkbeil

From Amazon: Drawing on a lifetime of pastoral experience, The Care of Souls is a beautifully written treasury of proven wisdom which pastors will find themselves turning to again and again.

Harold Senkbeil helps remind pastors of the essential calling of the ministry: preaching and living out the Word of God while orienting others in the same direction. And he offers practical and fruitful advice―born out of his five decades as a pastor―that will benefit both new pastors and those with years in the pulpit.

The Complete Works of St. Augustine (Kindle)

From Amazon: Saint Augustine of Hippo (354 - 430 AD) was a Roman African bishop, early Christian theologian and philosopher whose writings influenced the development of Western Christianity and philosophy. He is viewed as one of the most important Church Fathers in Western Christianity on account of his writings in the Patristic Period. Among his many works the most important are The City of God and Confessions.

A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix by Edwin H. Friedman

From Amazon: An invitation and guide for leaders “to cast a courageous and imaginative vision, to lead resiliently, and to be present and steady in times of deep anxiety.”

Ed Friedman’s genius was to see the individual in the family in the larger group, bringing the wisdom of his experience as a therapist and rabbi to the field of organizational leadership.

A timeless bestseller, A Failure of Nerve still astonishes in this new edition with its relevance and continues to transform the lives of leaders everywhere―business, church, family, schools―as it has for more than 20 years.

Preaching Sticky Sermons by Brandon Kelley and Joe Hoagland 

From Amazon: Preaching remains relevant even as America becomes less Christian. Preaching Sticky Sermons is a practical and accessible book for pastors young and old. Kelley and Hoagland reveal how to make your sermons stick. They focus on four main areas of creating a sermon: Preparation, writing, delivery, and evaluation. This book will help you write sermons that stick not only on Sunday but also throughout the week.

Preaching Killer Sermons by Lane Sebring

From Amazon: Today’s audiences are more distracted than ever, but sermons can only be effective if people are listening. You have to capture people's attention. But how? In Preaching Killer Sermons, author and pastor Lane Sebring reveals practical preparation and delivery techniques that will enable you to better connect with your listeners.

What is your must-read book for pastors and preachers right now?

I'd love to hear from you. Send me a tweet and let me know what book you hope other pastors and church leaders will read this year.

Grow Your Preaching

If you want to be faithful to the text, prepare efficiently, and craft your sermon memorably, I’ve got just the thing to help. It’s called the 10-step guide to writing a sticky sermon and it’s yours for free. Just click here to grab your copy.

**This article contains affiliate links as part of the Amazon Associates Program which means if you click through and make a purchase I get a small commission. I only recommend products I love!**

Write sermons that stick!

Learn the 10-step process to crafting and writing a memorable, transformational sermon. Download this free guide today.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.