Best Books for Pastors in 2018


We asked pastors around the world a simple question: what books did you read in 2018 that helped you be a better pastor? We’ve curated their responses below. (See our 2017 list here.)

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God Is: A Devotional Guide to the Attributes of God, by Mark Jones

“Mark Jones somehow manages to write profound and historically informed theology that is succinct and full of application. These short chapters broadened and deepened my understanding of God and encouraged my soul. His chapter on the simplicity of God, which he relates to the (singular) fruit of the Spirit, was especially helpful for uncovering idolatry in my own heart and useful in counseling others to see their sin.” – Kyle Newcomer, pastor of Christ Our Savior Baptist Church in Houston, TX

Reformed Preaching, by Joel R. Beeke

“The first mark of a healthy church is expositional preaching. Beeke shows that expositional preaching should not only be biblical and textual, but also experienced and applied in the life of the pastor and people. Reformed Preaching reminded me that preaching the truths of Scripture must be applied to my own life before applying it to the lives of God’s people.” – Alex Hong, pastor of Christian Bible Fellowship in West Covina, CA


Strengthening Your Marriage, by Wayne Mack

“Mack’s book is my go-to workbook for almost all the pre-marital and marital counselling I do, and for continuing to shape and sharpen my own marriage of 21 years. I still haven’t seen another book that requires the reader to immerse themselves so much in the biblical text and see God’s own wisdom for our marriages. The title of the first edition used to be, “How to Develop Deep Unity in the Marriage”. What Christian couple doesn’t want more of that?” – Tim Cantrell, senior pastor of Antioch Bible Church in Johannesburg, South Africa


How the Nations Rage, by Jonathan Leeman

“The relationship of discipleship to politics is confusing. And I’m supposed to teach my church how to navigate this complexity! Christ is Lord of all. But where and how do biblical absolutes connect? Where do the gray areas of wisdom lie? Jonathan Leeman clarifies complexity, solidifies convictions, and points out how to identify the Christian’s spaces for legitimate disagreement so that I serve the Lord Jesus, his church, my neighbors, and society with biblically informed wisdom and confidence.” – PJ Tibayan, pastor of Bethany Baptist Church in Bellflower, CA


Covenant and God’s Purpose for the World, by Thomas Schreiner

“To be mastered by the Bible’s story we need to read it again and again. Tom Schreiner’s clear and succinct book unpacks the Bible’s story by correctly connecting and contrasting God’s covenants with his people. My soul delighted in Christ, his work, and the Scriptures’ unity. Pastors should read and recommend Covenant to their church members so that people grow in biblical literacy and savor God’s covenant goodness.” – PJ Tibayan, pastor of Bethany Baptist Church in Bellflower, CA



Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines, by David Mathis

“Habits of Grace, through vivid images and gentle wooing, called me into more faithful engagement with the spiritual disciplines of Word, prayer, and fellowship. His chapters on meditation have lead me to slow down in my devotional time and to link my Bible reading to my prayers much more directly. Growing in the discipline of meditation has served my hospital visits (as I’ve lingered over, and not just read, the Bible with saints) and my pulpit ministry (as I’ve more deeply examined and internalize our text). This book builds upon Don Whitney’s classic and proved for me a challenging refresher.” – Ross Shannon, pastor of First Baptist Church of Lapeer, Michigan

Side by Side: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love, by Ed Welch

“Many books offer great ideas that drift out of mind before readers put them to use. This book models how to be concise and practical. Living up to its name, it walks readers from the first conversation with a newcomer at church to a deep, biblical friendship. The elders of my church just read it together, and I plan to distribute it widely to church members.” – Nathan Lugbill, pastor of Castleview Baptist Church in Indianapolis, IN



No Quick Fix: Where Higher Life Theology Came From, What it is, and Why it’s Harmful, by Andrew Naselli

“We all have categories in our minds for protecting the purity of the gospel as a free gift of God by grace through faith while also explaining the existence of someone who is in Christ and yet not walking in obedience. The key, however, is how we theologically explain these categories and pastorally counsel in light of them. The Keswick theologian will turn to the unbeliever–carnal Christian–mature Christian paradigm to diagnose the problem, followed by a “crisis of faith” moment as the prescribed medicine. Unpacking key biblical texts and investigating key historical movements and people, Naselli accomplishes exactly what the book’s subtitle claims the book will do.” – Jason Seville, pastor of an international church in China

George Whitfield: God’s Anointed Servant in the Great Revival of the Eighteenth Century, by Arnold A. Dallimore

“I need to read more biographies. I need to read more works with an anchor in the past. I need more evangelistic zeal. Dallimore on Whitfield was good for all of this. This is a short treatment of Whitfield’s life, and whet my appetite for his longer two volume work, George Whitefield: The Life and Times of the Great Evangelist of the Eighteenth-Century Revival.” – Trent Hunter, pastor of Heritage Bible Church in Greer, SC



Conversion: How God Creates a People, by Michael Lawrence

“What theological topic do you deal with more than you expected to as a pastor? For me, the answer is easy: conversion. A prospective church member might explain that they were saved at seven, lived a life of sin for a decade, and then “rededicated” their life to Jesus at 17. Another might truly turn from sin and trust in Christ at 17, but not have a deeper emotional experience or understanding of the Christian life until 25. When were these people saved? And what about my friend who is really nice and sincere? Is that evidence of regeneration? How about our evangelism? Should we push to “close the deal?” Should we appeal to felt needs? Needless to say, Lawrence’s book is much needed resource for all of our churches. I frequently quote from it, recommend it, and turn to it as I prep for a sermon application or an upcoming conversation. In fact, we just decided to purchase a copy for every family in our church.” – Jason Seville, pastor of an international church in China

The Thing Is, by Tony Payne
“This little book articulates the purpose of the Christian Life in a way the clear and compelling. I’ve read it with the men I’ve been discipling and it has been so neat to see how it has broken down their preconceived notion of their purpose and replaced it with the undeniable biblical call to every Christian. ” – Nick Gatzke, pastor of Old North Church in Cleveland, OH


Honorable mentions:

  • Going Public: Why Baptism is Required for Church Membership, by Bobby Jamieson — “This book helped me have a fuller understanding not only of biblical baptism, but also a wider panoramic view of the consistent interconnectedness of believer’s baptism with Baptist ecclesiology more generally.” — Marc Minter, pastor of First Baptist Church in Diana, TX
  • The Gospel Comes with a House Key, by Rosaria Butterfield — “This book addresses a very important aspect of pastoral ministry (and Christianity in general) in a deeply gospel-centered way.” — Chuck Newkirk, pastor of Church on Mill in Tempe, AZ
  • Impossible People, by Os Guinness — “Guinness argues that as society increasingly removes itself from objective truth we must be an “impossible people” whose hearts can “melt with compassion, but with faces like flint and backbones like steel who are unmanipulable. Short read with high impact for navigating our times.” – Nathan Knight, pastor of Restoration Church in Washington, DC
  • How to Preach Without Notes, by Charles W. Koller — “Koller helped me see that a key to preaching without notes is to craft the parts and the whole of sermon in a memorable fashion. Naturally, that will be better for me and the congregation. Already, my thesis and outlines are cleaner.” – Trent Hunter, pastor of Heritage Bible Church in Greer, SC
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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