Had a phone conversation last week with a young man who has just accepted a pastoral call to serve in his first church. He asked if I could recommend a few practical books related to the pastoral ministry.
I’ve created this brief list to share with him. Many more might be added but here are five with a brief annotation that I have found helpful (listed In a-b-c order by author):
Charles Bridges, The Christian Ministry with An Inquiry into the Causes of its Inefficiency (Banner of Truth, 1830, 2006).
Bridges (1794-1869) was an evangelical leader in the Church of England. This book shares valuable practical pastoral wisdom in everything from preaching sermons to pastoral work with various kinds of people. It is also filled with pithy aphoristic statements that will lodge in the mind. Example: “Believe—wait—work—are the watchwords of the Ministry” (179).
John Keith Davies, The Local Church: A Living Body (Evangelical Press, 2001).
Davies (d. 1991) served for over thirty-seven years as a Baptist pastor and church planter in Wales. This is technically a book on ecclesiology or even a practical manual on church order, but it also has much, necessarily, to say about the work of pastoral ministry. Davies extols especially the advantages of ministry within the small church. For my full review of this book, look here.
Charles Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students, Complete and Unabridged (Zondervan, 1954 reprint).
These lectures were delivered by Spurgeon (1834-1892), the “Prince of Preachers,” to the students at the Preachers’ College in London. Though the content is sometimes uneven, it includes classic essays addressing topics like dealing with personal discouragement and despondency (“The Minister’s Fainting Fits”) and dealing with both praise and criticism (“The Blind Eye and the Deaf Ear”).
William Still, Dying to Live (Christian Focus, 1991).
William Still (1911-1997 was the “bachelor minister” at the Gilcomston Church of Scotland in Aberdeen from 1945-1997. This autobiography addresses the lows (the week seven of his elders resigned and attendance plummeted) and highs (the joys of seeing fruit and spiritual growth driven through expository preaching, alongside work with students and children) of his unusually long and fruitful ministry in one congregation. Though I list only this work of autobiography (or biography) I commend this genre to aspiring pastors.
William Still, The Work of the Pastor (Christian Focus, 1984, 2001).
This book consists of five lectures presented by Still at an Intervarsity Christian Fellowship student conference in 1964. It is easy to digest and brimming with sagacious insights. Example: “We are so eager, we want a short training and a long ministry. Jesus has thirty years’ training and three years’ ministry” (143).