Ask Dave, pt. 3: My Top 10 Books For Pastors


This is part three of a series called, ‘Ask Dave.’ Recently I asked my friends on Facebook what they would like to see me write on for my blog. I will cover two or three questions in each article.

Question: In a small church where the pastor has to do a lot of stuff, how should he divide his time between the spiritual aspects of ministry and the mundane practical things that just have to get done.

Dave: We have to learn to think of it all as spiritual. A great book that can help us with this is the classic, The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. But I know what you mean. It’s hard to think it’s spiritual to drop the offering off at the bank or pick up toilet paper at the store for the church restrooms.

I would think that if a small church pastor is spending more than 25% of their time doing ‘busy work’ or administrative responsibilities then they are spending too much time on those kinds of tasks.

Begin by drawing up a list of all the things you do that are not obviously ministry related. Prioritize the list. Ask yourself, “What could I delegate?” Ask yourself, “Is there anything on this list that I could stop doing and nobody would care or notice?”

Question: What should a small church offer in their compensation package?

Dave: I mentioned in a previous article, what the church should provide and what the church can provide are often two different things.

When I’m working with a church board this is a question that often comes up. I usually answer:

1. A livable income (What is ‘livable’ will vary from pastor to pastor.)

2. Medical insurance

3. Life insurance

4. A retirement program

The smaller the church the less likely it is that they will have the finances to provide such things, but they can take little steps in this direction. It should be a priority of the church (or the church board) to move towards this list rather than away from it or ignore it. I coach boards in areas like this. To learn more, go here.

Question: If you were to make a list, what would be the top ten books you would say are a must have for a pastor?

Dave: Wow…that’s hard, but here goes…

The Grasshopper Myth by Karl Vaters

Dirt Matters by Jim Powell

The Contemplative Pastor by Eugene Peterson

Working the Angles by Eugene Peterson

Under the Unpredictable Plant by Eugene Peterson

Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work by Eugene Peterson

The Seeking Heart by Francois Fenelon

Stuck by Terry Walling

In The Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen

Unmasking Male Depression by Archibald Hart


And don’t forget: Mile Wide, Inch Deep by Dave Jacobs. 😉