Summer is finally upon us. The kids are out of school. You are probably gearing up for Vacation Bible School, camps, or sports tournaments (or worse, all the above). Yet, in the back of your mind, you might still be holding out hope that you will get to catch up on some reading this summer.

After things finally wind down, one of my greatest aspirations is to chisel down the stack of books that has been slowly but steadily growing over the past few months. Maybe I will even get the chance to enjoy some scenery in a new location while reading a good book.

But whether you find yourself on the deck of a cabin, the dock of a lake, or the sands of the beach, if you’re anything like me, you will likely bring a book. And even though you might already have a stack of your own, here are five books pastors should consider reading this summer while you unwind and recuperate from the spring and prepare for the fall.

Spurgeon the Pastor by Geoff Chang (B&H Publishing, 2022)

Every year, I do my best to read at least one biography. Spurgeon the Pastor is one of the best works on Charles Spurgeon I have ever read. What is moving about this book is its perspective. Many books have captured the essence of Spurgeon as a preacher, teacher and leader, but in this work, the reader discovers the Prince of Preachers was a pastor who wanted to serve and guide his flock well.

Geoff Chang (the curator of the Spurgeon Library at Midwestern Seminary) provides an approachable examination of the life of Spurgeon. Chang captures his triumphs and his struggles, his victories and defeats. He offers wisdom from the life of Spurgeon applicable to church leaders today. But Chang seeks to remind us all, through the life of Spurgeon, that whether we are bettering ourselves as preachers, teachers, planters, or theologians, at the end of the day, we are called to oversee the flock.

Rembrandt Is in the Wind by Russ Ramsey (Zondervan, 2022)

Pastors will often read books that are informative, noteworthy and well-written. But occasionally, you will be gifted with prose that is truly beautiful. In Rembrandt Is in the Wind, Russ Ramsey captures the human experience through art, theology and philosophy.

While many pastors and church leaders are often left feeling like clinicians in a technical field, books like these remind the reader there is beauty in the world to celebrate. Ramsey’s writing embraces readers and leaves them appreciating beauty and the God who makes all things beautiful.

Managing Leadership Anxiety by Steve Cuss (Thomas Nelson, 2019)

In recent years, we’ve seen a pandemic, divisive politics and denominational infighting. And these are only the largely visible issues we deal with when it comes down to ministerial leadership. There are still budgets to maintain, staff members to manage and a congregation to guide. It is no wonder anxiety is a focal point for candid leaders looking for support.

In Managing Leadership Anxiety,Steve Cuss provides helpful nuance for those seeking help on how to approach their anxiety. Instead of giving ways to “cure” the anxiety within us, Cuss offers principles to notice the anxiety within yourself and others and provides strategies that allow you to flourish beyond the anxiety within and around you.

Urban Legends of Theology by Michael Wittmer (B&H Academic, 2023)

There are many misconceptions about the Christian faith that hover within the walls of our churches. In one way or another, you might have heard that the Christian God is no different than Allah and that having a high view of Scripture is a term of idolatry. Or maybe you’ve heard we should never feel shame or that Jesus never spoke about homosexuality. These are just a few examples Michael Wittmer covers in Urban Legends of Theology.

In this book, Wittmer provides context on where these beliefs came from, how they became so prevalent in our current society, and the correct responses to these misconceptions. His writing is approachable and humorous and will offer the ministry leader helpful tools to combat many of the misconceptions they have likely heard in and out of ministry settings.

Confronting Jesus by Rebecca McLaughlin (Crossway, 2022)

Rebecca McLaughlin is probably most well-known for her apologetic work in her book, Confronting Christianity. In her follow-up, McLaughlin provides an insightful dive into the identity of Christ. She carries the reader to understand Jesus as the most important person who has ever lived and how His relevance is still the most important thing today. She discusses him as Jew, Son, King, Healer, Teacher, Lover, Servant, Sacrifice and Lord. With approachable writing and contemporary references, McLaughlin provides a resource that will reintroduce any ministry leader to the Jesus who changed the world and their lives.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko