Reading and Preachers (pt 2)

Here is some free advice from a young pastor to any other young pastors. I hope some of this will help.

When I was younger I use to buy anything that was on sale (if it were theologically “solid” of course). This meant buying all of CBD’s super-sale items. Items like Spurgeon’s 5 volume preaching set for $25; Luther’s 7 volume works for $50; The Early Church Father’s 38 volume set for only $199; etc, etc.

For most of us, shelf space evidentially becomes an issue (sometimes a big issue). I have 6 very large built in bookshelves (in my pastoral office) and I am already running out of space. I realize now that just because something is “solid” and “cheap” doesn’t necessarily mean you should buy it. If you are not going to reference a set very often it may not be worth your shelf space. Fair?

Also remember that when you move (and many of us pastors move quite frequently), that books are heavy, expensive, and hard to move. The more books you have the more expensive your move will obviously cost (trust me I know).

Another lesson I learned along the way was to stop buying so many Christian inspirational/help books (for lack of a better word). Books like “the Pursuit of God,” “Knowledge of the Holy,” “the Puritan Paperbacks,” “101 Greatest Sermons,” most of John Piper’s books, Christian biographies, etc. are all great resources. These books help to keep the fire blazing but also require a lot of free reading time. Most Pastors I know have hundreds of books that they’ve never even read.

Some of those books were probably unnecessary purchases. Instead of buying every good C.J. Mahaney book that comes out why not read the ones on our shelves first?
Commentaries and other theological reference works are much better investments in my humble opinion. Even though you do not use every one, all the time, they are very helpful in the preparation of any expository sermon. I have invested the majority of my money in recent years on commentaries, theology sets/books, and certain key reference works (like TDONT). Many men are buying computer software sets to help offset the problem I mentioned above. I am more of a book guy but to each his own.

Setting aside money in the church budget to purchase key books for the church library is a good idea. Highlighting new books in the church bulletin is one of many ways to encourage your congregation to read more good Christian books. Many Christians spend more time reading blogs, Sports Illustrated, and fluffy Christian books (like “the Prayer of Jabez”) then they do reading anything of real value (let alone there bibles). Selecting good books for your church library is one way to help your congregation grow spiritually.

One more tidbit, as a new pastor be careful not to throw out all the old books in your “new” church library (not that I know this from experience). :) It will be very tempting to eliminate every Larry Crabb, James Dobson, Bruce Wilkinson, and Gary Ezzo item the moment you walk into your current churches library. Resist the urge! Some old timers bought those books with their last medicare checks, if you know what i mean? In time you will probably be able to get away with purging the old library with new (more biblical) books.

Take care,



3 responses to this post.

  1. Speaking of C. J. Mahaney, he recently quipped that “…I believe that all pastors should have an unlimited book allowance!” After reading that I sent his article to all my fellow elders. I have not heard back from them as of yet but I’m hopeful.

  2. Wouldn’t that be great!

  3. I heard that Dr. Akin at Southeastern Baptist Seminary says that every pastor needs to spend at least $2000 per year on books. I agree and am well on my way… I don’t remember what he said about reading them!
    I used to get every book I could get my hands on! Now I have given most of them away to seminary students who are trying to build their own library (numders are all that really matter at that time in life!) Now I am much more particular about which ones!

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