Best Books for Pastors in 2020


We asked pastors around the world a simple question: what books did you read in 2020 that helped you be a better pastor? We’ve curated their responses below. (See our 2019 list here, 2018 here, and 2017 here.)


The Gospel According to Satan: Eight Lies about God that Sound like Truth, by Jared C. Wilson

“Wilson’s book is a telling account of the anti-gospel ideas that many believers sadly struggle with in the Christian life. The Gospel According to Satan dismantles ideas like, ‘God just wants you to be happy’ and ‘Your feelings are your reality,’ to name a few. This book has proven helpful in counseling and discipling folks who have unwittingly imbibed anti-gospel ideas.” — Dave Leandre, Lead Teaching Pastor of Living Water Church in Vancouver, WA


Pastors and Their Critics: A Guide to Coping with Criticism in the Ministry, by Joel Beeke and Nick Thompson

“This book is really helpful. First, by exploring Old Testament examples and the life of Christ in the Gospels, Pastors and Their Critics unpack the biblical foundations for coping with the criticism that is part and parcel to leadership. Second, it builds upon these foundations by giving biblical counsel on how to humbly receive and graciously respond to criticism. Finally, the book gives practical ways we can cultivate the proper atmosphere in our churches which opens avenues for constructive criticism. Personally, I benefited greatly from this new book.” — Paul Tautges, Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in Mayfield Heights, Ohio


Finding the Right Hills to Die On: The Case for Theological Triage, by Gavin Ortlund

“You think you understand theological triage, right? You should still read this book. It will help you think even more clearly and carefully about which hills you should die on.” — Sean Demars, Pastor of 6th Avenue Community Church in Decatur, AL





Say It: Celebrating Expository Preaching in the African American Tradition, edited by Eric Redmond

“John Stott once said preaching was applying the ancient text to the modern hearer. Preachers can learn how to do that more effectively, Charlie Dates suggests, by learning “from a tradition of preaching that emerged from the transatlantic diaspora, is baptized in suffering, is sophisticated in rhetorical harmony, and yet proclaims salvation to the land of its own captivity.” I am thankful for the hard thinking modeled in this book. I both learned and was encouraged by each chapter, especially the sermons. Say It! will help even seasoned preachers develop into more faithful heralds as they see that “expository preaching and African American stylistics are all-star dance partners, not battlefield enemies.” — Raymond Johnson, Senior Pastor of Christ Church West Chester in West Chester, PA


Stott on the Christian Life: Between Two Worlds, by Tim Chester

“John Stott was one of the most influential evangelicals in the twentieth century. Chester’s concise introduction helps Christians see how Stott’s humility, love for God’s Word, clear articulation of the gospel, disciplined lifestyle, and love for lost made him a worthy example of what it means to follow Christ.” — Alex Hong, Senior Pastor of Christian Fellowship Bible Church in West Covina, CA





Can We Trust the Gospels?, by Peter J. Williams
“This book is a useful resource for discipling those who struggle with the veracity of Scripture. Williams shows that either the gospel writers are the greatest perpetrators of literary artifice of all time, or they presented the truth of what happened with precise detail. Can We Trust the Gospels? walks through numerous examples where the Gospel writers corroborate details, not only with each other, but with extra-biblical historians as well. Personally, this book  gave me more love for God’s Word and the ability to dialogue with doubting Christians and questioning unbelievers.” — Drew Cunningham, Pastor of Santa Cruz Baptist Church in Aptos, CA



The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, by Jeremiah Burroughs 

This old book wasn’t written in 2020 but it was written for 2020. When I wasn’t able to meet with members, preach, or sing with the gathered saints at the start of the year, Burrough’s book was a tonic for my soul. It helped me continue to ground my sense of joy in the Lord in his faithful work towards me, not mine towards him. As we re-enter stricter lockdown procedures in my country, I’m considering dropping everything else to read it again. — Caleb Greggsen, Pastor of an International Church in Central Asia




The Man of God: His Shepherding, Evangelizing, and Counseling Labors (Volume 3 of Pastoral Theology), by Albert N. Martin

Martin’s final installment of his pastoral trilogy lays out the full spectrum and nature of pastoral ministry. This book helped me examine the different duties of a pastor, reflect on my own shortcomings, and pray for grace to improve as a pastor. — Alex Hong, Senior Pastor of Christian Fellowship Bible Church in West Covina, CA





Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers, by Dane Ortlund


“This book will likely become a modern classic for one primary reason: it draws you close to Jesus. I needed a fresh encounter with my Savior and I’m grateful for the way this book provided it.” — Garrett Kell, Pastor of Del Ray Baptist Church in Alexandria, VA





Biblical Theology According to the Apostles: How the Earliest Christians Told the Story of Israel, by Chris Bruno, Jared Compton, and Kevin McFadden

“I appreciate careful studies that explore the connection between the OT and NT. That’s what I found in this book. The authors examine several summaries of Israel’s story incorporated into the NT text for specific pastoral purposes. These summaries warn, rebuke, encourage, and reassure—always maintaining focus on promises of salvation and resurrection for all nations, fulfilled in the Messiah. This book is an outstanding guide to see in Scripture how Israel’s story shapes the Church’s mission and hope.” — Benjamin Wright, Pastor of Cedar Pointe Baptist Church in Cedar Park, TX



Christ: The Doctrine of Christ for Every Woman, by Jenny Reeves Manley

“Jenny Manley’s book is a treasure trove of reflection on the most important figure in history. From beginning to end, she uncovers the beauty and relevance of Christ’s person and work. I know Jesus more truly, and love him more deeply, because I read this book. Get several copies, pass them out to your members, and marvel together at the King of glory.” — Matt Smethurst, Elder of Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville, KY






Honorable Mention:

One Assembly: Rethinking the Multisite and Multiservice Church Models, by Jonathan Leeman – “This book’s discussion of what a church is was helpful, especially as our church navigated COVID19 lockdowns. Leeman’s exploration of ‘catholicity’ was also edifying!” — Nathan Carter, Pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Chicago, IL

Sam Emadi

Sam Emadi is senior pastor at Hunsinger Lane Baptist Church in Louisville, KY.

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