The 11 Best Pastoral Care Books for Christian Counseling in 2024


Lord’s Library editors compiled a list of the best pastoral care books for Christian counseling right now.

Christian pastoral care refers historically to the ministry services typically provided by a church leader to his congregation. In modern times, pastoral care is commonly referred to when discussing specific aspects of a pastor’s ministry, like family counseling or visitation. Pastoral care ministry is one of the most important aspects of the role of a church leader and often involves support for both physical (worldly) and spiritual concerns.

There are several really great resources on pastoral care across the web, including this list of 92 Bible Verses about Pastoral Care from OpenBible, A Biblical Approach to Pastoral Care from CareLeader, and 9 Passages to Read About Pastoral Ministry from Crossway. It’s in this spirit that our editors compiled this list of the best pastoral care books. These titles are the most popular currently available on the topic.

Note: We only included the best pastoral care books for Christian counseling with a 4-star or better ranking and a minimum of 75 reviews.

The Gospel

The Best Pastoral Care Books for Christian Counseling

Most Popular: Psychology, Theology, and Spirituality in Christian Counseling

Author/Publisher: Mark R. McMinn

From the publisher: “Since its first publication in 1996, this book has quickly become a contemporary classic―a go-to handbook for integrating what we know is true from the disciplines of theology and psychology and how that impacts your daily walk with God. This book will help you integrate spiritual disciplines―such as prayer, Scripture reading, confession―into your own life and into counseling others.”

Top-Rated: Pastoral Care of the Sick

Author/Publisher: International Commission on English in the Liturgy

From the publisher: “This handy-sized edition of Pastoral Care of the Sick/Cuidado Pastoral de los Enfermos from Catholic Book Publishing contains the abridged Rites of Anointing and Viaticum in English and Spanish for personal use. This edition of Pastoral Care of the Sick/Cuidado Pastoral de los Enfermos also features a convenient edge-marking index and is bound in a flexible green imitation leather cover.”

Best Value: Gospel Conversations: How to Care Like Christ

Author/Publisher: Robert W. Kellemen

From the publisher: Gospel Conversations is the second volume in The Equipping Biblical Counselors Series, a comprehensive relational training curriculum for the local church that provides a model for equipping God’s people to change lives with Christ’s changeless truth. This two-volume series weaves together comprehensive biblical insight with compassionate Christian engagement.”

Popular Postmodern Guide: The Practice of Pastoral Care, A Postmodern Approach

Author/Publisher: Carrie Doehring

From the publisher: The Practice of Pastoral Care has become a popular seminary textbook for courses in pastoral care and a manual for clinical pastoral education. In it, Doehring encourages counselors to view their ministry through a trifocal lens that incorporates premodern, modern, and postmodern approaches to religious and psychological knowledge.”

Popular Illustrated: Images of Pastoral Care

Author/Publisher: Robert C. Dykstra

From the publisher: “This book is an edited volume of works that have predominated over the past several decades in contemporary pastoral theology. Through the writings of nineteen leading voices in the history of pastoral care, Dykstra shows how each contributor developed a metaphor for understanding pastoral care.”

Popular Guide: Pastoral Care: An Essential Guide

Author/Publisher: John Patton

From the publisher: “This book will outline the quintessential elements pastors need to wisely minister in today’s context by discussing four major kinds of lostness: grief, illness, abuse, and family challenges. The purpose of the Abingdon Essential Guides is to fulfill the need for brief, substantive, yet highly accessible introductions to the core disciples in biblical, theological, and religious studies.”

Popular Introduction: Basic Types of Pastoral Care & Counseling

Author/Publisher: Howard Clinebell

From the publisher: “This third edition is enlarged and revised with updated resources, methods, exercises, and illustrations from actual counseling sessions. This book will help readers be sensitive to cultural diversity, ethical issues, and power dynamics as they practice holistic, growth-oriented pastoral care and counseling in the parish.”

Popular Resources: All Our Losses, All Our Griefs: Resources for Pastoral Care

Author/Publisher: Kenneth R. Mitchell

From the publisher: “Grief as a lifelong human experience is the scope of this absorbing book. Kenneth Mitchell and Herbert Anderson explore the multiple dimensions of the problem, including the origins and dynamics of grief, loss throughout life, caring for those who grieve, and the theology of grieving. This examination is enriched by vivid illustrations and case histories of individuals whose experiences the authors have shared.”

Popular for Emergencies: Pastoral Care Emergencies

Author/Publisher: David K. Switzer

From the publisher: “David K. Switzer presents a clear, illustrative and practical manual for pastoral caregivers that covers the entire range of pastoral care emergencies typically faced by clergy, pastoral counselors, and lay caregivers such as Stephen Ministers and Befrienders. The chapters deal with issues such as situational crises, hospital emergencies, ministry to the dying, bereavement, suicide, divorce, domestic violence, substance abuse, and psychiatric emergencies.”

Popular for Dementia: Dementia: Living in the Memories of God

Author/Publisher: John Swinton

From the publisher: “In this book John Swinton develops a practical theology of dementia for caregivers, people with dementia, ministers, hospital chaplains, and medical practitioners. Offering compassionate and carefully considered theological and pastoral responses to dementia and forgetfulness, Swinton’s Dementia: Living in the Memories of God redefines dementia in light of the transformative counter story that is the gospel.”

Popular on Emotion: Shared Wisdom: Use of the Self in Pastoral Care and Counseling

Author/Publisher: Pamela Cooper-White

From the publisher: “Now new understandings of intersubjectivity, mutual influence, shared wisdom (both conscious and unconscious), and multicultural dynamics in the caring relationship are bringing promising new possibilities and challenges to pastoral practice. Employing these insights, in this groundbreaking book Pamela Cooper-White offers a new relational paradigm for pastoral assessment and theological reflection.”

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Timothy Andrew

Timothy Andrew

Tim is the Founder of Lord's Library. He believes the Bible commands us to minister "as of the ability which God giveth" (1 Peter 4:11). Tim aspires to be as The Lord's mouth by "taking forth the precious from the vile" (Jeremiah 15:19) and witnessing The Gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15: 1-4) to the whole world.

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