Best Books for Pastors in 2017


We asked 60 pastors around the world a simple question: what books did you read in 2017 that helped you be a better pastor? We’ve curated their responses below.

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Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture, by David Murray

“Everyone knows pastors are typically too busy but few people know how to help. As a busy pastor and scholar himself, Murray assists us all by leveraging his theological acumen with his practical experience to provide a meaningful strategy for managing the ever-elusive balance between family and ministry and rest.” – Justin Harris, pastor of Faith Bible Church in Naples, FL

Reset provided a well rounded approach to planning and evaluating, that helped me make many adjustments to my life.” – David Russell, pastor of Oakhurst Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC



Knowing Christ, by Mark Jones

“Not only did this book lead me to worship, but it taught me a great deal about Christ. After reading this, I think I’m better able to point others to Jesus.” – Kyle Newcomer, pastor of Christ Our Savior Baptist Church in Houston, TX

“The theologically rich chapters on the person and work of Christ led me to deeper worship.” – David Russell, pastor of Oakhurst Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC



A Praying Life: Connecting With God In A Distracting World, by Paul Miller

“One of the most important books I’ve ever read. Theologically rich, incredibly practical, and uniquely insightful. I’ve never read a book on prayer that came close to helping my prayer life—my life—like this book.” – Jedidiah Coppenger, pastor of Redemption City Church in Franklin, TN

“I’m new in my preaching post and feel the need for help in praying well, with focus, and with expectation.” – Trent Hunter, pastor of Heritage Bible Church in Greer, SC


Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, by Cal Newport

“Newport makes a compelling case for what he calls ‘deep work’ (i.e. focused/uninterrupted work) for people he identifies as ‘knowledge workers.’ Their contributions are forged, he argues, in focus, in deep work; not in distraction. This book helped me think through my engagement with social media as well as how to organize my time to schedule deep work.” – Raymond Johnson, pastor of The Journey Church in West Chester, PA


The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance — Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters, by Sinclair Ferguson

“This book helped me to more clearly see and enjoy the sufficiency of Gods grace in Christ Jesus alone. If the average Christian understood and lived inside the ideas of this book then our counseling appointments would significantly decrease.” — Nathan Knight, pastor of Restoration Church in Washington, D.C.

“Through an obscure Scottish controversy, Ferguson gets us crystal clear on the gospel and clears up the legalism/antinomianism debate. Stretches the mind and warms the heart in equal measure.” – Robin Weekes, pastor of Emmanuel Wimbledon in London, UK

Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity, by Tim Challies

“I was greatly helped by Challies’ biblical vision of productivity, and his practical, workable strategies for doing more better. Very, very useful in helping me think through my responsibilities and priorities, and develop doable systems for managing tasks, time, and information. An excellent resource!” – Greg Stoever, pastor of River City Grace Community Church in Sacramento, CA

“I took away several things from this book, but one big change in 2017 as a result of reading it is how I go about using my email. Like many pastors, I spend a lot of time emailing and Challies’ recommendations for how to be more productive with email have transformed my weekly pastoral activities.” – Phillip Howell, pastor of Embassy Church in Palatine, IL

Union with Christ: The Way to Know and Enjoy God, by Rankin Wilbourne

“A wonderful theme that’s central to the Bible, here clearly explained, well-illustrated, and closely applied. The book is a model for how to communicate timeless ideas to the people I’m pastoring.” – Matt McCullough, pastor of Trinity Church of Nashville, TN

“Wilbourne wields this topic with pastoral love, energy, and beauty. You get a sense from the page that he believes it and that it really is precious.” — Trent Hunter, pastor of Heritage Bible Church in Greer, SC


Honorable mentions:

  • How People Change, by Paul Tripp & Timothy Lane — “I should have read it long ago! It’s full of Christ-centered hope that God is not done with the reader, and practical gospel-saturated aid for helping others know Christ’s transforming power.” — Jordan Thomas, pastor of Grace Church of Memphis, in Memphis, TN
  • Jesus On Every Page, by David Murray — “A wonderful example of solid biblical theology. Very helpful in pointing the reader to the glories of Christ from ‘cover to cover’ in the Bible. I found it a great encouragement to look for Christ where he is found—in all of Scripture.” — Doug Van Meter, pastor of Brackenhurst Baptist Church, in Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Women and God: Hard Questions, Beautiful Truth, by Kathleen Nielson – “Kathleen doesn’t say anything different than what we evangelical complementarian males would say, but it is helpful to hear a woman’s voice come alongside pastors and speak these words. Along with addressing the foundations of biblical womanhood (Genesis 1-3), she also addresses some of the difficult passages that raise questions for complementarians.” – Juan Sanchez, pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, TX
  • Honest Evangelism, by Rico Tice – “Whilst recognising the difficulties of living in an increasingly secular and hostile society, this book is a wonderful encouragement and challenge to keep speaking to people about Jesus. Quote: ‘If you are going to talk to people about Jesus, you are going to get hurt… And I bet that if you have stopped trying, it’s because you’ve come to one of two conclusions. Either you don’t think it’s working, because you got hit; or you don’t think it’s worth it, because you got hit.. [But] until you cross the painline you don’t know what response you will meet. Sometimes you will get hit, just as Paul did. But sometimes you will find hunger, just as Paul did.'” — Jonathan Worsley, pastor of Kew Baptist Church in London, UK
Alex Duke

Alex Duke is the editorial manager of 9Marks. He lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where he also works at Third Avenue Baptist Church as the Director of Youth Ministry and Ecclesiological Training. Follow him on Twitter at @_alexduke_.

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