Best Books for Pastors in 2019

Article
12.20.2019

We asked pastors around the world a simple question: what books did you read in 2019 that helped you be a better pastor? We’ve curated their responses below. (See our 2018 list here, and 2017 here.)

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The Man of God: His Calling and Godly Life: Volume 1 of Pastoral Theology, by Albert N Martin

“Albert N. Martin is a seasoned pastor and preacher who wants to help the next generation of pastors understand their calling, life, and work. This book will be a must-read for many who are wrestling with what it means to be “called” to ministry (two Pastors’ Talk episodes on this: Episode 11 and Episode 69). This book will also encourage pastors currently serving with timeless biblical principles, the voices of great men of God in the past, and Martin’s proven pastoral experience.” – Alex Hong, pastor of Christian Bible Fellowship in West Covina, CA


Fearing Others: Putting God First (31-Day Devotionals for Life)
, by Zach Schlegel

“I loved Zach’s devotional Fearing Others: Putting God First. It’s a short, readable, heart-piercing run through the fear of man.” – Deepak Reju, elder at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC

 
 
 



Evangelism as Exiles, by Elliott Clark

“As much as any book can be, this is a must-read for the churches who want to grow in evangelism here at home.” – Nathan Loudin, pastor of Millwood Baptist Church in Austin, TX

“Most people in American churches receive constant pushback for their faith. Granted, it may not be as intense as some parts of the world, but it’s still there. They feel culturally out of step. They hear that they’re ‘on the wrong side of history.’ They’re told that their views are antiquated or even dangerous. For some, the temptation is to shrink back from their witness altogether. For others, the danger is to engage in public debate in a way that communicates a faulty gospel—as if our ultimate hope is in this life, and our ultimate goal is winning the culture wars. Using the book of 1 Peter as a roadmap, Elliot Clark reminds us that we are aliens and strangers in this life and shows the implications of that reality for our evangelism. It’s a must read for anyone feeling low-intensity persecution that’s so common in our day.” – Jason Seville, pastor in East Asia

The Cross Before Me: Reimagining the Way to the Good Life, by Rankin Wilbourne and Brian Gregor

“Pastors have the sobering privilege of heralding this promise: ‘Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it’ (Matt. 10:39). We know these words from Jesus. We quote them. We preach them. But do we embody them? In The Cross Before Me, a pastor (Rankin Wilbourne) and a philosopher (Brian Gregor) team up to reflect on Jesus’s counterintuitive secret to human thriving. Drawing from a wide range of ancient and modern insights to buttress its case, this book will drive you to gospel grace and draw you into the joy of finding your life, over and over again, by losing it.” – Matt Smethurst, elder at Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville, KY

Feels Like Home: How Rediscovering the Church as Family Changes Everything, by Lee Eclov

“When I read Lee Eclov, it’s like he’s been in my home. And that’s not just because we both hail from South Dakota and crossed paths in the Chicago suburbs. It’s because I share his vision of the church as a home. I’ve been in large churches and small churches, growing churches and dying churches, churches full of farmers and churches full of hipsters. Every church should work toward the vision Eclov lays out in this book.” – Collin Hansen, elder at Redeemer Community Church in Birmingham, AL

 

Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World’s Largest Religion, by Rebecca McLaughlin

“Similar in many respects to Tim Keller’s The Reason for God, this book feels even more current. (It was published a decade later, after all.) McLaughlin also brings unique perspective and experience to several discussions, given that she’s female, British, and same-sex attracted (though married to a man). In addition to answering all the expected street-level objections, she takes on certain issues—such as ethnic diversity and complementarianism—that most apologists avoid. Get this book and let McLaughlin help frame the way you engage skeptics, whether over coffee or from the pulpit. I don’t know of a more contemporary and cogent work of apologetics.” – Matt Smethurst, elder at Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville, KY

Narrative of the Life of an American Slave, by Frederick Douglass

“The vividness of the prose, the significance of the issues, the flaws of Christianity as practiced, and the extraordinary magnanimity of Douglass’ soul made this book the best I read in 2019.” – Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC

 
 
 
 
 
 

Remember Death, by Matthew McCullough

“There are so many new books coming out these days that don’t really need to be published. They don’t say anything particularly new or well. This book is not one of those. It masterfully put words to deep, existential feelings I’ve been groping to articulate and understand. And then it helped me to see the beauty of Christ in fresh ways.” – Nathan Carter, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Chicago, IL

“We don’t like to think about death. That’s why we need to read this book. It humbled me and challenged me to enjoy life and spend it well in the Lord.” – David Russell, pastor of Oakhurst Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC


Who Shall Ascend the Mountain of the Lord? A Biblical Theology of Leviticus, by Michael Morales

“I thought this would be a good book to help me prepare for preaching through Leviticus, but now I think it is one of my favorite biblical theology books. The biblical and theological insights in the early chapters on Genesis and Exodus are especially good.” – Phillip Howell, pastor of Embassy Church in Chicago, IL

 
 
 

Spiritual Gifts: What They Are & Why They Matter?, by Thomas Schreiner

“For a long time I have called myself a cessastionist, but couldn’t give a succinct answer from the Bible as to why until I read Schreiner’s book. Clear, accessible, and generous, this book will help any serious Christian seeking to understand what the Bible says about spiritual gifts as they should be understood from Holy Scripture for the good of the church.” – Raymond Johnson, pastor of Christ Church West Chester in West Chester, PA

 
 
 
 

7 Myths of Singleness, by Sam Allberry
“Allberry writes, ‘Singleness is a way of declaring to a world obsessed with sexual and romantic intimacy that these things are not ultimate and that in Christ we possess what is’ (120). Sam’s work here is so deeply Christ-centered, church-oriented, and broadly applicational that we encouraged our entire church to read it regardless of relationship status. The vision he gives for non-marital intimacy, non-nuclear family, and non-biological reproduction brought godly sorrow and great hope for what our relationships can and should look like in the local church.” – Jason Seville, pastor in East Asia

 
 

Honorable mentions:

  • With the Word: The Chapter-by-Chapter Bible Handbook, by Warren W. Wiersbe — “The longer I’ve been a parent and a pastor, the more I’ve come to treasure this volume. Since Wiersbe went home to be with the Lord earlier this year, I have a new appreciation for this modern classic. As a busy pastor, I must admit that often our family worship times are brief. Amongst all the great devotional tools out there, from M. Henry to F.B. Meyer to D.A. Carson, none combine brevity and piety quite like Wiersbe. Especially in those tough chapters in Leviticus or Numbers when we’re wondering how in the world to apply this to yourself, let alone your family or flock, Wiersbe nails it with some pithy point.” — Tim Cantrell, pastor of Antioch Bible Church in Johannesburg, South Africa
  • His Testimonies My Heritage, edited by by Kristie Anyabwile — “Really good series of testimonies of the Lord’s Word on the lives of various women. Very encouraging to read and faith-building.” — Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington DC
By:
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 @_alexduke_.