Books for Pastors - List 1: The Basics

Make sure you read the first post in this series for disclaimers and explanations and links to the full series.

When Chris first asked me for this list I asked a couple of other guys at the retreat what they would put on it. We started talking about picking the best books in some important categories. That is the origin of this first list, "The Basics." 

1. "Under the Unpredictable Plant: An Exploration in Vocational Holiness" by Eugene Peterson. Category: Pastoral Soul Care. Comment: This book is a must read for all pastors. Peterson speaks to the heart of the pastoral experience and offers excellent advice about avoiding common temptations in ministry. 

2. "The Mission of God's People: A Biblical Theology of the Church's Mission (Biblical Theology for Life)" by Christopher Wright. Category: Missional Ecclesiology. Comment: It was hard not to put Wright's much larger volume, "The Mission of God," here. However, this book is an excellent exploration of the biblical theology of mission and how it informs the identity of the church. 

3. Category: Systematic Theology. Comment: The category is first because I have a few to put on this point. 
       a. "Systematic Theology" Vol. 1-3 by Thomas Oden. Comment: Yes, 3 volumes. But so good. Mainline theology, classic protestantism. 
       b.  "Theology for the Community of God" by Stanley Grenz. Comment: More controversial, more thought provoking. You might call this 'post-conservative evangelical.' 
       c. "Christian Theology" by Millard Erikson. Comment: Kind of a standard evangelical systematic theology. Not my favorite, but it will serve you well. 
       d. "Institutio Christianae Religionis" by John Calvin. Comment: The man was a genius. Whatever you think of his modern day namesakes, this you should read.

4. "The Glory of Preaching: Participating in God's Transformation of the World" by Darrell Johnson. Category: Preaching. Comment: One of the most important duties of a pastor is to preach the Word of God. Johnson's book is grounded in a clear, biblical, vision of preaching and it will also help you practically. 

5. A good set of Greek and Hebrew language tools. This includes training in the languages, lexicons, grammars, and whatever else you need. The bible really is the most important book and you ought to be able to read it well. 

Here's the thing. I thought through that list and, in being limited to 5 choices, I couldn't even cover all the categories I thought were important, let alone all the books. On top of that, any pastoral training institution or program worth the time of day ought to be getting pastors to read what it considers to be the best books in these categories, and more. So, I could hardly leave things at that, now could I?

More tomorrow :)  

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