Friday Fives: The Top Five Selling Christian Books of All Time – Other than THE Book.

I’ve always loved reading. As a little guy I would spend hours under the covers with a flashlight reading anything I could get my hands on – mostly lots of sports biographies.

Of course for believers, books take on an even greater import because of the centrality of the Bible to our faith.

If you are a leader, I hope that is useful to you and I hope that books are a big part of your learning, whether you grab them off a library shelf or load them onto your tablet.

In this week’s Friday Fives, the top 5 selling Christian or Christian-themed books of all time, other than Father of all books.

#5 – Rick Warren/The Purpose Driven Life

Purpose Driven

First Published: 2002
Copies Sold: 30 million*
Why You Should Read It: You probably already have. I’ve always considered it a great (if not intentional) trainer in evangelism.

Book Notes: *Yikes. 30 million copies for a book that’s just 11 years old! That borders on miracle territory.

#4 – Charles Sheldon/In His StepsWhat Would Jesus Do?


First Published: 1896
Copies Sold: 30 million

Why You Should Read It: It’s probably going to be a more powerful story than you are expecting. Sheldon writes a novel that is relentless in its call to live life as if following the model of Christ is one’s primary daily objective.

Book Notes: It sold so many copies because, first, it is effective and, second, because a copyright error led to the printing of literally millions of copies of low cost editions. It gave birth to the “What Would Jesus Do?” trend when it found its way into so many Christmas stockings in the 90’s.

#3 – C.S. Lewis/The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

Lion Witch

First Published: 1950
Copies Sold: 85 million

Why You Should Read It: As a children’s book, the first in the Narnia series, this is like a master class in Biblical metaphor. Often, the job of the preacher is to put God’s Word into understandable terms while staying rigorously true to its Truth. Lewis does just that in crafting a story that holds a child’s (and adult’s) interest while teaching about the nature of salvation.

Book Notes: Look up an Essay Lewis wrote called, “It All Began with A Picture” for the story behind Narnia.

#2 – J.R.R. Tolkien/The Lord of the Rings


First Published: 1954
Copies Sold: 200 million
Why You Should Read It: The movies are masterpieces, of course, but they sometimes don’t do justice to the spiritual depth of the Oxford professor’s brilliant metaphors.

Book Notes: If you aren’t up to wading through all of those pages, there are some well produced audiobook versions available on iTunes.

#1 – John Bunyan/The Pilgrim's Progress

Pilgrims Progress

First Published: 1678
Copies Sold: 250 million*
Why You Should Read It: The original language version is very difficult (but not impossible) to read. However, the link above is to a modern English version. It’s worth your time because it is THE classic allegory of freedom from sin.

Book Notes: *Because of its age, completely accurate records don’t exist for sales of Pilgrim’s Progress. However, it has never been out of print and is considered by most sources to have sold well over 200 million copies.


The 21 Best Selling Books of All Time

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IPL2 Librarian Service: Best Selling Books of All Time


  1. I bet The Stress Factor is #6. 🙂