Pastors serve an essential role in God's mission through their ministry in the local church. They teach the Word, counsel people in need, lead teams, proclaim God's truth, cast vision for their communities, and provide spiritual wisdom to those in their care.
Church ministry is challenging, but the right resources can have a huge impact on the work pastors do day in and day out. Some books equip leaders with practical ministry solutions, and others offer advice for fruitful spiritual formation and soul care. You can browse all of IVP's church and ministry resources here.
This list highlights ten books written specifically for pastors, taking all types of ministry contexts into consideration. In each category, you'll find a featured title plus even more hand-picked resources to add to your ministry bookshelf. Whether you're a pastor yourself or you want to support the church leaders in your life, these books are the perfect place to start.
Pastors have the opportunity—and responsibility—to cast a vision for the church that will inspire us to greater faith and action as a global community of believers. In the midst of cultural shifts and scandals, how should the church respond? How can we make the greatest impact in our world during this particular moment in time?
Award-winning book Analog Church by Jay Kim considers how the digital age has revolutionized our culture and our church communities. As a pastor in Silicon Valley, Kim explores the ramifications of a digital church (like worship, our experience of Christian community, and the way we engage Scripture and sacrament), and how we can lean into "analog" ways of being together for a more compelling witness.
For more resources on ways the church can deepen its witness, check out Radiant Church, Why Church? and Becoming the Church. To consider both the sober realities and exciting opportunities of our current ministry landscape, read Next Sunday and From Pandemic to Renewal.
As our culture rapidly grows more culturally diverse and sensitive about issues of inclusion and acceptance, the church must respond. Whether at the denominational or local level, questions surrounding ethnic diversity, disability and accessibility, and sexuality are more than just hot-button topics—they're issues we as Christians must contend with. Written by pastors and those with lived experience in these areas, these books offer important perspectives for ministry leaders to consider.
David Swanson's Rediscipling the White Church is for pastors who know that there is deep-rooted racial injustice in our society (and our church pews), but don't know what steps to take next. Is scrambling to add diversity really the answer to widespread racial dysfunction? This inspiring read will help churches address the causes behind our brokenness and reimagine our communities as Christ's diverse body.
Read more about multiethnic and diverse churches in The Beautiful Community, In Church as It Is in Heaven, and Churches, Cultures, and Leadership (2nd Edition). You can also hear directly from "the autism pastor" in Disability and the Church and consider LGBT+ issues for church contexts in What Does It Mean to Be Welcoming?
Creating a unified vision within your leadership team allows everyone to contribute meaningful work and stay aligned with the mission. One of the best ways to build this understanding is to read the same resources and discuss them together. These books are written for groups who want to engage in conversation, with talking points that will strengthen your leadership team and guide your congregation to even more fruitful ministry.
Do you want to turn spectators into missional, mature followers of Jesus? According to E. K. Strawser in her book Centering Discipleship, the church often lacks maturity and missional impact because discipleship is at its periphery. This practice-based guidebook is for leaders who are working hard to reimagine, restructure, and renew their churches and communities.
Want to tackle the sticky topics of team dynamics and healthy working relationships? Discuss Together in Ministry and The Politics of Ministry with your team. For inspiration and ideas about how to build resilience and fight burnout, check out The Resilience Factor and Tempered Resilience.
Your church isn't a silo—it exists within the context of your surrounding neighborhood. When your local community faces challenges like inequality, poverty, gentrification, and lack of resources, your church can play a vital role in collaborating towards solutions and providing for needs. How will your church partner with those around you to seek the common good for your community?
In Uncommon Church, World Impact president Alvin Sanders provides a model for local, urban churches that want to serve their communities and improve the quality of life of every facet of the neighborhood. Instead of treating the poor as goodwill projects, healthy local congregations can be the key to community transformation, playing the crucial roles of empowering, partnering, and reaching their neighborhood.
For more practical guidance on urban ministry and leading church through community changes, check out Church Forsaken and Who Moved My Neighborhood? If your congregation needs inspiration and strategy for community outreach, read Becoming a Just Church and Together for the City. For churches grappling with the particular needs of small and rural communities, check out A Big Gospel in Small Places.
Worship is so much more than the voices, the band, the songs. Worship leaders and music pastors have the great responsibility of setting the spiritual tone for the service and communicating theology in an embodied way, week after week. When your worship becomes performative or you're feeling a lack of inspiration, what resources are you using to center your worship ministry in godly truth?
According to experienced worship leader Rory Noland in his book Transforming Worship, we need to reclaim our worship services as formative spaces that are substantive and purposeful. Combining discipleship and worship, he offers a vision for worship as spiritual formation to help us stem the tide of nominal Christianity.
Read more on spiritual growth for worship leaders in Honest Worship, and get practical advice for multicultural worship in The Next Worship. Worship and the World to Come and Creative Church Handbook will also inspire worship pastors in any context.
Pastors and church leaders who work with children know how challenging youth ministry can be—from retaining volunteers to battling constant turnover to planning effectively for all of the chaos that kids can bring. Practical resources from those with real-life experience can be essential companions for youth pastors who need a helping hand.
In their practical book Sustainable Children's Ministry, Mark DeVries and Annette Safstrom show you how to build a ministry foundation that will last long beyond the present moment. You'll learn how to recruit volunteers, partner with parents, navigate politics, and care for your own soul instead of frantically scrambling to do it all yourself.
For more on spiritual and emotional child development, read Reciprocal Church and Forming Resilient Children. Pastors and parents alike will find tips for engaging kids in important spiritual conversations in Imaginative Prayer and Spiritual Conversations with Children.
Many church-goers have experienced liturgical services their whole lives. But a growing number of Christians are now discovering the liturgical tradition for the first time. For pastors in Anglican congregations and beyond, these resources offer background history, theological insights, and practical guidance for leading liturgy throughout the seasons of the church year.
If there ever was an essential resource for all things liturgy, it's The 1662 Book of Common Prayer. Even centuries after its publication, it is still widely used around the world, in public worship and private devotion. IVP's recent International Edition gently updates the text for contemporary use outside of the Church of England, revising obscure phrases while preserving the prayer book's own cadence. For both leaders and congregants, this timeless book will help guide corporate and personal expressions of faith.
The pastoral vocation is full of challenges and stress. In today's world, it's easier than ever to feel overwhelmed and burned out from the constant demands of ministry. When pastors don't take care of their souls, they risk losing their ministry effectiveness or falling into moral failure. Before you can shepherd your flock, you have to take care of your own spiritual health.
According to Tom Nelson's award-winning book The Flourishing Pastor, what pastors need is not just a new leadership strategy, but a new framework for ministry—one that will help them move from survival to flourishing. Drawing on the image of the shepherd leader, Nelson offers pastors wisdom and timely vision for leadership that integrates in-depth biblical teaching and whole-life discipleship, providing a roadmap for ministry resilience and longevity.
For more on preventing burnout by developing a strong spiritual foundation, check out Don't Blow Up Your Ministry and Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership. If you want to explore personal daily practices to anchor your soul, read A Pastoral Rule for Today, An Unhurried Leader, and Humility Illuminated.
Preaching on Sunday mornings is one task of pastoral ministry that can cause even the most experienced pastors stress and anxiety. Many leaders struggle to translate their Scripture study into words their congregants will really understand and absorb. With attention spans at an all-time low and the distractions of cell phones and social media competing with the Sunday message, it's harder than ever to craft effective sermons that will reach people's hearts and minds.
If you are speaking across generations, you need to understand how different generations hear. In his book Speaking Across Generations, pastor Darrell Hall (a millennial) harnesses fresh research from the Barna Group to show how each generation receives verbal messages, from boomers and Xers to millennials and Gen Z and those not yet named. Use this practical resource to bridge the generational communication gap in your preaching.
For even more practical tips to improve your preaching, read A Little Book for New Preachers and A Little Handbook for Preachers. Enneagram lovers will enjoy the public speaking tips in Speaking by the Numbers, and music lovers will appreciate the advice in Sermons That Sing.
Strategies for missions come and go quickly as times change. As we learn more about how to navigate the cultures around us with sensitivity and respect, we adjust the ways we witness to our neighbors—near and far. How can we lead a congregational vision for biblical outreach, effective evangelism, and contextual missions?
In Freeing Congregational Mission, B. Hunter Farrell and S. Balajiedlang Khyllep respond to the deepening crisis of consumer-oriented "selfie missions." Helping churches move away from practices based on colonial-era assumptions, they deliver key takeaways from the latest mission research, inspiring examples from innovative congregations, and a set of step-by-step tools for churches.
For a global, post-colonial approach to missions, read A Just Mission. Check out Mapping Church Missions for a practical guide for congregational missions strategy, and learn how your church can become a witnessing community in Breaking the Huddle. For more about holistic evangelism and reaching "nones" and the unchurched, try Participating in Abundant Life and You Found Me.