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For several years we’ve had a part-time pastoral internship program at University Reformed Church. This year, for the first time, our interns work full-time. The bulk of their time is spent in four areas:

1. Reading and writing

2. Ministry observation

3. Personal ministry (they do for others)

4. Personal discipleship (they receive from the pastors)

Under the first category, our interns read several books. Actually, many books. And many papers (relatively short papers–2000 words). You can see below what they will read between now and the end of May.

They will read portions of Lectures to My Students (Charles Spurgeon), Spiritual Leadership (J. Oswald Sanders), and 9 Marks of a Healthy Church (Mark Dever). These selections are for discussion only. The other ten books are read in their entirety and require a written paper.

Our interns tend to be recent college graduates who have not yet gone to seminary. We try not to duplicate the reading they do in seminary. We don’t teach languages. We don’t do church history. We don’t attempt to do what full-time professors can do better. We focus instead on books that touch on the practical side of ministry (yes, I know all theology is practical). Having said that, we want our interns to be squared away on the basic theological categories. We also want them to be challenged with some heavier reading than they probably do on their own.

1. Robert Letham, The Holy Trinity. Biblical, historical, and rich. We thrown the interns into the deep end first.



2. John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied. Short, but substantial. If pastors don’t understand the salvation and atonement, they aren’t ready to be pastors.


3. J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism. Well written and still relevant.




4. Robert Plummer, 40 Questions about Interpreting the Bible. Nicely organized. A good introduction hermeneutics, genre, textual criticism, and the doctrine of inspiration.



5. Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Worship. A good blend of worship theology and praxis. Helpful for interns to see where a more traditional liturgy comes from and why it makes sense.


6. David Helm, Expository Preaching. Best book on the how-to and how-come of expository preaching.



7. Guy Prentiss Waters, How Jesus Runs the Church. PCA-centric, but useful for anyone in the Reformed/Presbyterian tradition.



8. Timothy Witmer, Shepherd Leader. Puts a good theology of eldership into hands on ministry practice.



9. D. A. Carson, Christ and Culture Revisited. Balanced and wise. Provokes good discussion.



10. David Hesselgrave, Paradigms in Conflict. I am more decidedly Reformed in a couple areas, but the format effectively presents the key issues in missiology today and points the reader in a good direction.



The list of assigned books gets tweaked year by year. In the past, we’ve assigned a few of my books, but it’s hard to write an honest paper for the guy who wrote the book. Other books we’ve assigned over the years include: Exegetical Fallacies (D.A. Carson), Worship by the Book (D.A. Carson, ed.), The Church of Christ (James Bannerman), Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands (Paul Tripp), Preaching and Preachers (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones), The Message of the Old Testament (Mark Dever), The Courage to Protestant (David Wells), A History of Israel (Walter Kaiser), Biblical Eldership (Alexander Strauch), A Praying Life (Paul Miller). The pastoral interns also study our church’s confessional standards, though that is covered more extensively in our membership class.

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10 thoughts on “What Our Pastoral Interns Read”

  1. David Bisseett says:

    Kevin, what sort of timing do you allow for reading one of these books? Also do your elders have reading “assignments” as well? Thanks. db

  2. Kevin DeYoung says:

    The interns have a about three weeks to read the book and write their paper for me. Some of them try to get a head start on the reading during the summer. There are, of course, other assignment and other work for them to do besides just books and papers.

    The elders are typically reading through a book together. Over the years our books have included: Biblical Eldership (Strauch), The Elder and His Work (Dickson), Outgrowing the Ingrown Church (Miller), A Praying Life (Miller), Shepherd Leader (Witmer).

  3. Jonathan Gregory says:

    Thanks for this Kevin. For the longer book assignments what does the paper consist of? How many words? What are the asked to write in the paper? Many thanks in advance.

  4. Kevin, I just wanted to take a moment and thank you for this reading list. As a full time (middle age man student) who will be heading into seminary in the next year and a half, I appreciate you sharing this list of amazing books. Not only are you helping your interns grow, but now you are helping all the rest of us grow as well. Thank you!

  5. Jim Loring says:

    You mentioned other readings (papers up to 2000 words). Could you provide the titles and locations for those as well?


  6. This is a great list! It’s interesting that you guys didn’t include many books from the leadership genre (Such as John Maxwell, Seth Godin, and the like). Most of the time when I see lists like this it’s a bunch of theology books on one end and then a bunch of business leadership books stacked on the other.

    If I had to suggest adding one book I would recommend putting Dangerous Calling by Paul Tripp on the list! That one impacted my life when I was in a pretty dark place. I’m sure it would have a huge impact on those you are training for eldership.

  7. ben says:

    Ditto Garrhet’s recommendation, very powerful book.

  8. Steve Gardner says:

    Great list of books. Is it intentional to have an almost exclusively North American authorship?

  9. Tremendously helpful. I’m going to put some of these recommendations immediately into practice with our 5 young seminary guys. Thanks, Kevin!

  10. Josh says:

    Don’t forget Goldsworthy’s ‘According to Plan’! Great book.

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Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung is the senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina. He is chairman of the board of The Gospel Coalition, assistant professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte), and a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have seven children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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