Contemplations on Preaching, Ministry, and the Pilgrim Life
This page is dedicated to the authors and their books that I read from daily. These are writers whom I wish to emulate in my own life, and these are books I want to master. This is a select group comprised of the best of the best (in my opinion). These aren’t just book recommendations, these are the best authors and the best books every preacher should read.
I am a preacher and a pastor, so my selection corresponds to my life goals, which explains why my choices are exclusively related to Christian life and doctrine.
This is not a closed group, so check back from time to time to see who’s made the cut. Here’s the list, in no particular order:
I wish all Christians would read this book. Don’t settle for those abridged versions or those versions that leave out the second part. Bunyan wrote two parts to the book: one about Christian and the other about Christiana (Christian’s wife). The second part is very helpful in adding some detail and explanation to the first. So be sure to get a version with parts 1 and 2. Lamentably, many publishers today seem to leave out part 2.
The Pilgrim’s Progress, like all books written during the 17th century, contains language that is antiquated, leaving many to struggle to understand it. Many versions today feature updated language, which will benefit most. Personally, I’m too much of a purist to opt for those abridged and modern English versions. The less editing, the better, in my opinion.
This is a book that will not entertain so much as it will challenge. It is ill-suited for passive reading, as you would any work of fiction, but rather should be approached meditatively – read, ruminate, repeat.
This is the first book that really changed me. During Bible college, I read this book because it was assigned. After college, I read it again and was amazed at the relevance of Spurgeon’s wisdom in our modern age.
Lectures ignited a fire in me – a fire that burned for biblical ministry, but also a fire that illuminated my path, revealing a crossroads in my near future. I made a decision to follow Spurgeon’s path because it tracked the Savior’s steps. And that’s what I wanted most.
Of course, Spurgeon’s sermons are choice reading material, but in this collections of lectures given to ministerial students at his college, Spurgeon’s fast-draw wit and wry sense of humor appear more frequently than when he is feeding the flock from the pulpit.
This is one of those books that every pastor must have in his library – and not only in his library, he must have it bouncing around in his heart and lingering in the back of his mind. In this book, Baxter shows what is the bone and marrow of effective pastoral ministry. He exposes frauds, denounces sin, and exhorts to greater works for the Savior. If you can read this book, O man of God, and not be humbled, convicted, and motivated, then you have a stony heart.
This book should be required reading in every Bible college and seminary. In fact, I think it’s a shame my alma mater did not require their preacher students to read this yearly. Other than the Bible and possibly Spurgeon’s Lectures to My Students, I can’t think of a book that is better suited to equip ministers for the front lines of the war for the souls of men.
Admittedly, I have yet to finish this massive tome, but with nearly half of the book in the rear-view mirror, I can confidently say that this is one of the most spiritually thoughtful books that ever a man has penned. It has been said that Spurgeon’s sermons are as filled with meat as an egg – an appropriate comparison when one considers that the Prince of Preachers himself used the same language to describe Gurnall’s Armour.
Every page is dripping with the sweet nectar of scriptural meditation; every chapter burns bright with bibline light and pastoral application. Gurnall is the master spiritualizer, not the type that pounds round pegs into square holes and forces a meaning, but the kind that uses Scripture’s stories to illustrate truth.