Top books for people sensing a call to ministry

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Sensing a call to ministry?

Then it’s time to start getting prepped now. Nothing can substitute for doing the work of ministry. But picking up and working through a handful (or two) of good books will help you more than you could ever know.

These are some of my favorites. Some I read in seminary. Others I’ve read since I’ve been working full-time in the local church.

I hope they help you as much as they’ve helped me.



Small Groups with Purpose by Steve Gladen (e-book)

Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley (e-book)

Sticky Church by Larry Osborne (e-book)

Sticky Teams by Larry Osborne (e-book)

Lectures to my Students by CH Spurgeon (e-book)

Creating Community by Andy Stanley (e-book)

UnChristian by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons (e-book)



21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell (e-book)

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (e-book)

Tribes: We Need you to Lead us by Seth Godin (e-book)

Good to Great by Jim Collins (e-book)

The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni (e-book)


Theology/Spiritual Growth

The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler (e-book)

Knowing God by JI Packer (e-book)

Christian Beliefs: 20 Basics Every Christian Should Know by Wayne Grudem (e-book)

ESV Study Bible

The Attributes of God by AW Pink (e-book)

Desiring God by John Piper (e-book)

Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers by John Owen (e-book)

Let the Nations Be Glad by John Piper (e-book)

The Me I Want to Be by John Ortberg (e-book)


Anything you’d add?


Christ follower, husband, father, writer, small groups pastor at Saddleback Community Church. Communications director for the Small Group Network.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Dan Brubacher

    Hey Ben,
    Great titles! It is always hard to make a short list given so many quality books. Two others I would add to the leadership section are:
    1. “Spiritual Leadership” by J. Oswald Sanders–considered a modern classic.
    2. “Courageous Leadership” by Bill Hybels–will get your heart beating faster as a leader.

    • Ben Reed

      I just put “Courageous Leadership” on my Kindle the other day. You’ve got me excited to read it now!

  • Aurick Challgren

    “Am I Called?” by Dave Harvey was also a helpful little book.

    • Ben Reed

      Good add, Aurick. I’ve heard great things.

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  • Pierre

    And there I was thinking I didn’t have much to read over the summer…

    What I love about this list is that (judging by the titles) none of these books have to do with calling specifically. I have found that it’s the books that refresh your excitement towards God and point towards Him that resonate the most with me; rather than those books which point towards me and my calling.

    As you’re (obviously) excited about small groups, I’m not surprised by your first suggestion :-p So I would suggest people think what gets them excited about their potential ministry, and to keep digging there! Are you in love with the Church? A book on church history *will* help you discern your calling. In awe of the Trinity? Reading on how the Triune God translates into worship will strengthen you and help you paint a picture of what shape your ministry might take.

    That said; calling is scary and vague sometimes. Dewar’s “Called or Collared” was particularly helpful, and then at a seminar we used “Fit for the purpose”, which was also very, very helpful.

    And meet up with other “discernees”. That’s probably THE most helpful thing to do.

    • Ben Reed

      Yes, I couldn’t agree more. Books are important…but don’t overlook the “discernees” for sure!

      Scary and vague? You bet it is!

  • RegentTim

    For those who are thinking specifically about Pastoral Ministry I think Eugene Peterson’s new memoir “The Pastor” is very helpful, and a very enjoyable read.

    For general questions of discernment & calling I would recommend Gordon T. Smith who has a number of great books including “Courage & Calling” and “The Voice of Jesus.” You can download a free sermon from Gordon Smith here –

    • Ben Reed

      Good stuff, Tim. Great adds.