Books that pastors read (or should…)

Although I am not a big follower of polls, it is interesting that George Barna surveyed pastors in America to find what books (other than the Bible) most influenced and encouraged them in their vocation. The fact that Rick Warren’s various ‘Purpose Driven’ books headed the list isn’t that surprising. What was surprising is the split between pastors over 40 and under 40. In short, pastors over 40 looked to books written by peers in age and focusing on church organizational thought and theology. Pastors under 40 were primarily looking for resources in prayer and prayer ministry.

What books should those called to the ministry be reading?

The Barne report is here.


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  1. This…

    …is the kind of thing that makes me want to convert to Orthodoxy.

    …frightens me. For real.

    …makes me angry enough to consider (certain) burning books.

    …compels me to dislike pastors.

    …compels me to become a pastor.

    …inspires me to buy novels and poetry for all of my pastor-loved-ones as gifts.

  2. Oh Brannon – now, now… dont get all “4 the Square” here… I do like the tension of “compels me to dislike/become a pastor though”…

    Seriously – like you I am probably more influenced by Alyosha in the Brothers K regarding the pastoral office than “Ordering your Private Purpose-Driven World” – so lets shift the question then:

    what ‘novels’/’poetry’ should pastors be made to read whilst in seminary?

  3. I wasn’t trying to “go all #4” – as if anyone around that dept., perhaps DJ aside, cares enough about Christianity to convert to orthodoxy, much less become a pastor…

    Just a few to toss out, but they’ll seem standard fare, I’m sure…I’ll limit myself, for now, to five per category.

    Fiction: My Name is Asher Lev (Chaim Potok), Goodbye, Columbus (Philip Roth), A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving), Dubliners, at least “The Dead” (James Joyce), Complete Stories and/or Wise Blood (Flannery O’Connor)

    Poetry: William Blake, Christina Rossetti, Wallace Stevens, Emily Dickinson, Paul Celan (Runner-up: R.S. Thomas, my new favorite)

    Other (hard to categorize): I, Rigoberta Menchu (Rigoberta Menchu), Maggie, A Girl of the Streets (Stephen Crane), Invisible Man (Ralph Ellison), Endgame or Waiting for Godot (Samuel Beckett), The House on Mango Street (Sandra Cisneros)

    Required viewing: The Decalogue (Kieslowski – at least 1, 5, 6 & 8), Dogville and Dancer in the Dark (von Trier), Shadlowlands, and Keeping the Faith (what the heck, toss in a fun one).

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