While this list is by no means exhaustive, we think the following 10 books would be valuable for every church leader to read and have in their library. Feel free to leave a comment and let us know which books you would add to the list—we'd love to hear your recommendations.
Gospel-Centered Discipleship by Jonathan K. Dodson
Everyone’s idea of discipleship is different. Some people emphasize evangelism—sharing their faith. Still others promote a hierarchical system for spiritual growth, a way for older Christians to pass on best practices to younger believers. Yet, both ideas are incomplete. Real discipleship is so much more.
Avoiding extremes and evaluating motives, Jonathan Dodson insists on a way of following Jesus that re-centers discipleship on the gospel.
This book helps us understand and experience the fullness of discipleship as God intended. It combines the mess and the weight, the imperfection and transformation, the honesty and wonder of being a disciple who revolves around Jesus. Here is a practical guide to discipleship that is Spirit-filled, Christ-centered, field-tested, and easily implemented.
Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God by Bob Kauflin
Nothing is more essential than knowing how to worship the God who created us. This book focuses readers on the essentials of God-honoring worship, combining biblical foundations with practical application in a way that works in the real world. The author, a pastor and noted songwriter, skillfully instructs pastors, musicians, and church leaders so that they can root their congregational worship in unchanging scriptural principles, not divisive cultural trends. Bob Kauflin covers a variety of topics such as the devastating effects of worshiping the wrong things, how to base our worship on God's self-revelation rather than our assumptions, the fuel of worship, the community of worship, and the ways that eternity's worship should affect our earthly worship.
Appropriate for Christians from varied backgrounds and for various denominations, this book will bring a vital perspective to what readers think they understand about praising God.
Total Church: A Radical Reshaping around Gospel and Community by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis
"Church is not a meeting you attend or a place you enter," write pastors Tim Chester and Steve Timmis. "It's an identity that is ours in Christ. An identity that shapes the whole of life so that life and mission become 'total church.'" With that as their premise, they emphasize two overarching principles to govern the practice of church and mission: being gospel-centered and being community-centered. When these principles take precedence, say the authors, the truth of the Word is upheld, the mission of the gospel is carried out, and the priority of relationships is practiced in radical ways. The church becomes not just another commitment to juggle but a 24/7 lifestyle where programs, big events, and teaching from one person take a backseat to sharing lives, reaching out, and learning about God together.
In Total Church, Chester and Timmis first outline the biblical case for making gospel and community central and then apply this dual focus to evangelism, social involvement, church planting, world missions, discipleship, pastoral care, spirituality, theology, apologetics, youth and children's work. As this insightful book calls the body of Christ to rethink its perspective and practice of church, it charts a middle path between the emerging church movement and conservative evangelicalism that all believers will find helpful.
Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson by D. A. Carson
D. A. Carson's father was a pioneering church-planter and pastor in Quebec. But still, an ordinary pastor-except that he ministered during the decades that brought French Canada from the brutal challenges of persecution and imprisonment for Baptist ministers to spectacular growth and revival in the 1970s.
It is a story, and an era, that few in the English-speaking world know anything about. But through Tom Carson's journals and written prayers, and the narrative and historical background supplied by his son, readers will be given a firsthand account of not only this trying time in North American church history, but of one pastor's life and times, dreams and disappointments. With words that will ring true for every person who has devoted themselves to the Lord's work, this unique book serves to remind readers that though the sacrifices of serving God are great, the sweetness of living a faithful, obedient life is greater still.
Am I Called?: The Summons to Pastoral Ministry by Dave Harvey
Many men have the skills to lead a church, but only some are called. Dave Harvey helps men considering pastoral ministry to see God’s active role in the process of discerning their calling.
God’s Word offers a clear framework for evaluating one’s call, especially within the context of community. Harvey offers six diagnostic questions to help prospective pastors process their calling, and what they should be doing now if they aren’t sure. Illustrated with personal and historical stories, Harvey explores biblical and practical principles for determining the pastoral call.
Over the past twenty-four years of ministry, Harvey has enjoyed assisting many men in discerning whether they are called into ministry. This book will guide you through that all-important process with wisdom and confidence in God’s faithfulness in your life.
Counsel from the Cross: Connecting Broken People to the Love of Christ by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick and Dennis E. Johnson
Given the evermore apparent failure of modern psychotherapies and a growing discomfort with pharmacological strategies, many churches are reaffirming the sufficiency and power of the Scriptures to change lives.
To aid churches in ministering to broken and hurting people, the authors of Counsel from the Cross present a counseling model based on Scripture and powered by the work of the wonderful counselor, Jesus Christ. Through careful exegesis and helpful case studies, they demonstrate how to provide consistently biblical, gospel-centered counseling and explain why it is important to do so.
The authors’ combined backgrounds—one, a woman trained in biblical counseling and the other, a male professor of practical theology—bring balance to this work, making it relevant for those who counsel as part of pastoral ministry and for all involved in mentoring or discipleship.
Leaders Who Last by Dave Kraft
If the Christian life is like a race, we must admit that too many Christian leaders stumble, burn out, or veer off the track. Clearly it is not automatic that a leader will finish well.
Based on Dave Kraft's thirty-five years of leading, teaching leadership, and coaching dozens of Christian leaders, Leaders Who Last moves through three stages of leadership: foundations, formation, and fruitfulness. Concise, anecdotal, and packed with wisdom, this book will help you aim your ambitions, refine your character, and position yourself to be an effective leader who endures.
Kraft's brief, down-to-earth guide to Christian leadership will inspire readers to finish the race well-to hit the tape in full stride with an energetic burst of speed and receive their commendation from God.
Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons by Thabiti M. Anyabwile
Every church leader knows the qualifications for elders and deacons that are spelled out in the Bible, but actually finding other leaders who fulfill the biblical qualifications can be difficult.
Thabiti Anyabwile writes from his expertise as a pastor and elder, showing how to identify and reproduce legitimate leaders and willing servants throughout the ranks of the local church. Balancing thoughtful analysis of pertinent passages with thorough application for practical use in a contemporary context, Anyabwile answers the questions, “Who should we look for to lead and serve in the church?” and “What should they do to fulfill their calling?”
ESV Economy Bible
With the ESV Economy Bible it’s easier than ever to impact lives through the distribution of the Bible. The most affordable Bible on the market, the ESV Economy Bible features the clear English Standard Version text, making it compelling and readable to those receiving a Bible for the first time.
This paperback edition of the full ESV Bible is ideal for bulk distribution. The ESV Economy Bible has a suggested retail price of $2.99, but is available for only $1 per copy when ordered in a minimum of five cases of 48 copies each. The ESV Economy Bible features not only the full text of the ESV Bible, but also an article on What the Bible Is All About, a reading plan, and a plan of salvation. Highly affordable and designed especially for outreach, the ESV Economy Bible is a great resource for reaching the world with God’s Word.
Coming Soon from Crossway:
Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry by Paul David Tripp (Forthcoming - October 2012)
After traveling the world for many years and speaking at hundreds of churches of all kinds, Paul David Tripp is concerned about the state of pastoral culture. He is not only concerned about the spiritual life of the pastor, but with the very people who train him, call him, relate to him, and restore him if necessary. Dangerous Calling reveals the truth that the culture surrounding our pastors is spiritually unhealthy—an environment that actively undermines the wellbeing and efficacy of our church leaders and thus the entire church body. Here is a book that both diagnoses and offers cures for issues that impact every member and church leader, and gives solid strategies for fighting the war that rages not only in the momentous moments of ministry, but also in the mundane day-by-day life of every pastor.
Everyday Church: Gospel Communities on Mission by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis (Forthcoming - September 2012)
Christians are increasingly aware that we live in a post-Christian culture. We recognize the need to adapt, but are unsure of the way forward. This book offers practical ideas for engaging with secularized society and does so in a way that is enfranchising, helping churches rely on their members instead of one leader with a dynamic personality or specialist skills. Chester and Timmis contend that the solution is an “everyday church” doing everyday mission with no signage except our lives. They organize the book around a missional reading of 1 Peter, since Peter’s first-century readers faced a similar situation as aliens and strangers. Gifted communicators and experienced pastors, these authors have proven their ability to be winsome and enlightening, especially in view of their success with Total Church and You Can Change.
Which titles would you add?
Are you getting ready to preach through Colossians? Dr. David P. Craig thinks Sam Storm's The Hope of Glory could be helpful.