24 Books Every Church Leader Should Own

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I’m sort of a geek when it comes to books.  Since moving to PNG, I’ve slowed down on buying books, but a quick estimate confirms that I have around 500 ministry/theology/Bible study related books.  By contrast, I have about 25 personal finance books.

The ultimate irony of this blog is that I spend a lot more time studying topics other than finances.  Most of the time I read theological books – not financial ones.

A few weeks ago we talked about ways to encourage your minister or pastor.  One of the suggestions was to buy your minister a book.

Today I want to follow up a little bit by making some suggestions on books that your minister might enjoy reading.  And, I’ll give you a lazy warning up front.  If I were a good blogger, I would go through and hyperlink all of these books to Amazon so you could click on that link and buy the book so I could get a referral commission.

Instead, I’m going to put one link and mention that if you want to buy a book from Amazon, please click here.  (Thanks!).

The 12 Books I Reference Most Frequently

This is the list of books I pull off my shelf time and time again.  They are the books with tea stains, fingerprint stains, and ketchup.  If you stole them, I’d probably cry.

To tell you the truth, number one one my list would be my Libronix Digial Library, but since that is hundreds of books in one program, it doesn’t count.

  1. Dictionary of Paul and His Letters
  2. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels
  3. Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch
  4. Dictionary of Old Testament: Historical Books
  5. Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership
  6. I Loved a Girl
  7. Conformed to His Image
  8. Devotional Classics
  9. The Making of a Leader
  10. Paul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ
  11. Healthy Congregations: A Systems Approach
  12. Theology for the Community of God

12 Books that Have Influenced My Thinking

The following are not necessarily books I suggest (not that I don’t), but books that have influenced my thinking.  Some have influenced my thinking by challenging some assumptions I have (like Jesus and Judaism), but I still don’t completely agree with the conclusion.  Anyways, I think a part of who I am today comes from bits and pieces I’ve picked up from the following 12 books.

  1. Buttrik, Homiletic
  2. Weserhoff, Will Our Children Have Faith?
  3. Sanders, Jesus and Judaism
  4. Nouwen, The Wounded Healer
  5. Sider, Just Generosity
  6. Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew
  7. Allen, Hughes, Weed, The Worldly Church
  8. Willimon, Pastor
  9. Why do Christians Shoot their Wounded?
  10. Bruggemann, The Prophetic Imagination
  11. Slaikeu and Hanson,  Controlling the Cost of Conflict
  12. Rendle, Leading Change in the Congregation

I’m sure there are more, but this is what I came up with in the allocated time.

In case you were looking for personal finance suggestions, here are my 10 top Christian personal finances books.

Photo by Xelcise.

Any favorites you want to mention?


  1. says

    I don’t mean this arrogantly but I seriously think the Quran, The Gudwara and other major religious books should be in those readings. Strengthening your knowledges of other faiths will bring your own understanding with your own faith to a new level and allow you to give justified information to people coming to you with questions, especially if they have experience with another faith only.

  2. says

    I haven’t heard the half of your books Craig. Now I must buy more books! Of late I’ve been reading John Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress and finished ’10 books that screwed up the world: and 5 others that didn’t help’ by Wiker. Driscoll’s ‘Death by love’ was an excellent look at the different aspects of Christ’s atonement and how it applies to us in the sense of meeting our varying needs.

  3. Scott F says

    I love Nouwen! His books are incredible. I thougth the Worldly Church was interesting as well. Another author that I have really enjoyed 2 of his books is Richard Foster. “Prayer” and “Celebration of Discipline” are great. “Velvet Elvis” by Rob Bell is also good. I absolutley loved “Same Kind of Different as Me”

    • says

      I have Prayer on my shelf, but never really spent much time with it. Yes, the Celebration of Discipline should have been on this list.

  4. says

    I’m living my faith and sharing my life as a Christian missionary in Australian. The books I handle the most:

    Watership Down, by Richard Adams
    Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix, by Edwin Friedman
    Questions of Truth: Responses to Questions about God, Science, and Faith, by Polkinghorne and Beale

    Besides the Bible, these are the top three books I go back and read multiple times.

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