The strength of our Book Reviews collection lies in the categorical breakdown that we have created for you below. We have divided the most common ministry design issues into categories so that you can more easily find the solution that you are looking for. Our eventual goal is to have an in-depth review for every book that will give you further assistance in discovering the reading pathway that can lead you to the solutions to the ministry issues you may be facing.
- Personal Development
- Development of Others
- Leading Change
- Pastoral Transition
- Leading Church Mergers
by Thom Rainer
“No one wants to see a church die. And yet, far too many churches are dying. For more than twenty-five years, Dr. Thom Rainer has helped churches grow, reverse the trends of decline, and has autopsied those that have died. From this experience, he has discovered twelve consistent themes among those churches that have died. Yet, it’s not gloom and doom because from those twelve themes, lessons on how to keep your church alive have emerged.
Whether your church is vibrant or dying, whether you are a pastor or a church member, Autopsy of a Deceased Church will walk you through the radical paths necessary to keep your church alive to the glory of God and advancement of Christ’s Kingdom!”
By Lovett H. Weems, Jr.
Thousands of congregations are in serious trouble. Children are not being taught the faith. Disciples are not being made. Lives are not being transformed. The poor are not being blessed. Communities are not being redeemed. These congregations know something is terribly wrong. And in most cases, the problems have little to do with the pastor’s prayer life or whether the pastor takes weekly Sabbath time. In fact, in many of these churches members deeply respect their pastors as sincerely spiritual people of utmost personal faith and integrity. But they need more from their pastoral leaders.
They need leaders who define ministry in terms of fruitfulness as well as faithfulness. They need pastors and lay leaders who ask about the outcomes of any given ministry or program, not just its process. Mostly, they need a vision of ministry that focuses on changing people’s lives. Absent that vision, ministry will fail.
In this helpful volume, Lovett Weems and Tom Berlin provide readers with the tools they need to assess the fruit their ministry bears in the lives of their congregations, their communities, and the world.
by Gary L. McIntosh. Publisher: Baker Books.
Focuses on how to keep first-time visitors.
Creating Your Church’s Culture: How to Uproot Mediocrity and Create a Healthy Organizational Culture
By Stephen Blandino
How do you create a thriving organizational culture in your church? Churches are committed to a spiritual mission, but it is often the organizational aspects of the church that hinder the mission from moving forward. Cultivating health in the organizational side of church culture requires a thorough understanding of the church’s vision, systems, staffing, relationships, and leadership. When the culture is healthy, it delivers consistently healthy outcomes that advance the mission of the church. But when cultures are unhealthy, or worse, toxic, they perpetuate constant dysfunction and derail the church’s purpose. In Creating Your Church’s Culture, Stephen Blandino gives you the tools and strategies to address the organizational side of your church’s culture. You’ll learn how to:
- Define your culture
- Activate the Culture Equation
- Hire staff who fit your culture
- Infuse your values into your culture
- Create a learning culture
- Develop effective systems
- Increase employee and volunteer engagement
- Measure the health of your culture
- Uproot bureaucracy
This practical book is loaded with wisdom and inspiration to help you improve the organizational aspects of your church’s culture. Plus, the book includes a culture assessment and implementation guide to help you apply what you are learning.
by Robert Schnase. Publisher: Abingdon Press.
Focus is on five systems that can maximize your effectiveness.
By Doug Anderson, Bob Farr, and Kay Kotan
Change your church culture. Create an outwardly focused environment where hospitality and invitation happen Sunday and every day of the week. This book offers five steps to help congregations go public with their faith—from service projects to sharing the faith with persons who want to know more about Christ and thw church. This book offers tactics to increase individual and church competency with relational evangelism with friends, neighbors, and even strangers. Learn how to start up a conversation, follow up with contacts, and navigate unfamiliar settings. Learn what works and what doesn’t.
We may think that just because we invite someone on our church property, they’ll come back. Often we don’t reach out to help people cross the faith line, because we’re uncomfortable with “evangelism” or just plain scared. Gain the confidence to share the good news boldly. After all, we know the name of the One who loves us all and who holds all power over heaven and earth.
by Carl F. George. Publisher: Baker Book House.
Click to see full review
The book is designed to help you “enlarge your vision for what God wants to do through your church”. The author desires to coach the pastor to break the “current growth barrier” they are facing.
The author addresses important issues concerning:
- The identification of God’s vision for your ministry.
- The discovery and development of your philosophy of shepherding.
- How to break the different growth barriers you may face.
The author provides a list of figures throughout the book that serve as a visual aid to understanding his discussion of these important issues.
The fifteen ways you can limit your vision in chapter 2 are more than worth the price of the book. You may discover any number of limitations you have put on your ministry. The author wrote this book in the early 1990’s and it has some timeless truths, analysis and helpful suggestions to help you unleash your ministry potential.
Who will benefit?
Ministry Leaders and pastors
How will it benefit?
It provides various ministry solutions.
Where does it fit in the process?
Ministry tune up resource.
Page 50, last full paragraph.
“Surveys show that most pastors and lay leaders excel either as doers or as dreamers, but not as both. That is, some preoccupy themselves with activity and implementation, while others spend lots of time thinking of great things to be done for God but do not know how to transform those dreams into reality. For greatest effectiveness, a leader must know how to provide direction by both dreaming and doing.”
By Frank McKinley
What is always present in any good story?
Sure, it would be great to live a life free from conflict. But when you’re reading or watching a story, it can get boring quickly if there’s no challenge for the hero to overcome.
Besides, life is full of conflicts, whether you like it or not.
There is conflict at home. You and your spouse or roommate will not always agree on everything. There will be times that he or she might not even be willing to compromise one inch.
There will be conflict at work. Coworkers won’t cooperate. Customers will complain. Your boss will find fault with your best efforts.
And even when you’re by yourself, you can’t always avoid conflict. The car can break down. You might get a migraine. Or your appointment might stand you up.
The key to properly handling conflict is not to run and hide. It’s not to become combative. Rather, it is best dealt with by using a good set of tools.
This book will help provide those tools.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
- How to say what you mean so you can get what you want
- How to provide consistency in an ever-changing world
- How to decide what’s worth fighting about – and what isn’t
- How to disagree without hating or attacking the other person
- How to create an environment that prevents most conflicts
- How to effectively deal with conflict when it comes
- How to see every conflict as an opportunity
If you’re new to leadership, this will keep you from quitting after the first month.
If you’ve been a leader for a while, these tools might sharpen your ability to handle conflict more constructively.
And if you’re already good at dealing with conflict, this is something you can give someone who isn’t.
Now let’s get started, shall we? Scroll up and grab a copy now!
Kingdom Come: Why We Must Give Up Our Obsession with Fixing the Church-and What We Should Do Instead
By Reggie McNeal
“There’s a reason Jesus taught us to pray “Thy Kingdom come . . .” and not “Thy church come.”The church clearly plays an important role in God’s plans. It was established by Christ, and he is its Head. But have we put too much emphasis on the church? Have we confused a means of participating in God’s Kingdom with the Kingdom itself?
In Kingdom Come, church ministry consultant Reggie McNeal reveals why it’s crucial to realign the church’s mission with God’s ultimate Kingdom agenda. You’ll discover how you can get in on—and help lead—the Kingdom movement currently underway.
Join the mission to help the Kingdom break into our hearts…and break out into the world.”
I believe this book will challenge your thinking! (Marshall Shannon)
By Carey Nieuwhof
You’ve probably noticed …
Churches aren’t growing.
Young adults are walking away.
Volunteers are hard to recruit.
Leaders are burning out.
And the culture is changing faster than ever before.
There’s no doubt the church is in a moment in history for which few church leaders are prepared.
You can look for answers, but the right response depends on having the right conversation.
In Lasting Impact, Carey Nieuwhof leads you and your team through seven conversations that will help your church grow and have a lasting impact.
What if …
- Having the right conversations could change your trajectory?
- There was more hope than you realized?
- The potential to grow was greater than the potential to decline?
- Your community was waiting for a church to offer the hope they’re looking for?
- Your best days as a church were ahead of you?
Maybe the future belongs to the churches that are willing to have the most honest conversations at a critical time. That’s what Lasting Impact is designed to facilitate.
By Dan Heath and Chip Heath
“Mark Twain once observed, “A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can even get its boots on.” His observation rings true: Urban legends, conspiracy theories, and bogus public-health scares circulate effortlessly. Meanwhile, people with important ideas–business people, teachers, politicians, journalists, and others– struggle to make their ideas “stick.”
Why do some ideas thrive while others die? And how do we improve the chances of worthy ideas? In Made to Stick, accomplished educators and idea collectors Chip and Dan Heath tackle head-on these vexing questions. Inside, the brothers Heath reveal the anatomy of ideas that stick and explain ways to make ideas stickier, such as applying the “human scale principle,” using the “Velcro Theory of Memory,” and creating “curiosity gaps.”
In this indispensable guide, we discover that sticky messages of all kinds–from the infamous “kidney theft ring” hoax to a coach’s lessons on sportsmanship to a vision for a new product at Sony– draw their power from the same six traits.
Made to Stick is a book that will transform the way you communicate ideas. It’s a fast-paced tour of success stories (and failures)– the Nobel Prize-winning scientist who drank a glass of bacteria to prove a point about stomach ulcers; the charities who make use of “the Mother Teresa Effect”; the elementary-school teacher whose simulation actually prevented racial prejudice. Provocative, eye-opening, and often surprisingly funny, Made to Stick shows us the vital principles of winning ideas–and tells us how we can apply these rules to making our own messages stick.”
by Gary L. McIntosh. Publisher: Baker Books
Focuses on managing church services and discipleship programs to help all ages.
Click to see full review
To help the readers understand the four generations found in most congregations and how to reach and then minister to them.
The author analyzes and explains the characteristics and qualities of each generation existing in today’s churches.
I believe you will find this book helpful in understanding the differences in the different age groups in your church and how to minister to them. The author chose a panoramic approach to writing this book as opposed to a microscopic approach which led him to broad generalizations instead of detailed analysis of every difference in each generation. His effort is to help us gain an understanding of the issues “involved in ministering to multiple generational groups in your church”. He warns us about the consequences of failing to understand and respond to the changing “generational influences” and impact it will have on our churches.
Who will benefit?
All ministry leaders.
How does it benefit?
It should help them design their particular ministry with some understanding about the groups involved along with helping them develop a game plan for ministering to these groups.
Where does it fit in the ministry design process?
Planning and development of the discipleship model.
by Michael Fletcher. Publisher: Bethany House.
Focuses on internal changes to help church jump growth hurdles.
By Aubrey Malphurs
“Still looking for the program, book, or sermon series that will turn your church around?
What if the answer to revitalizing your church is . . . you?
In a time when many pastors are jumping from church to church every few years as they search for the “right fit,” churches are suffering from a lack of sustained leadership from pastors with a viable vision for ministry. Packed with field-tested advice, self-diagnostic tools, and surveys, Re:Vision takes you through a process designed to help you re-envision your role, create a culture for positive change, and recruit people to come alongside you as helpers and encouragers.”
By Edward H. Hammett and James R. Pierce
“Reaching People Under 40 While Keeping People Over 60: Being Church for All Generations (TCP Leadership Series)”
By Lovett Weems
“Leaders do not need answers. Leaders must have the right questions.” These two sentences introduce one of the most popular features in each issue of Leading Ideas, the online newsletter of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership of Wesley Theological Seminary. This feature grew out of Director Lovett H. Weems’s realization years ago that leaders spend far too much time trying to figure out the “right answers” to a range of issues facing congregational life while that time would be more profitably used in discerning a few key questions that can change the direction of a church.
Leaders are so accustomed to providing answers for the questions of others that they often fail to engage the people in identifying and addressing the major adaptive challenge in the current chapter of a congregation’s life. Since people tend to remember about 20 percent of what they are told, but about 80 percent of what they discover for themselves, questions have the beauty of allowing both the issues and the solutions to arise from within the life of a congregation.
There is also great value in having a repertoire of questions that can be used in a range of settings along the path of leadership. Becoming an adept user of questions makes it less likely that your first response to any topic is to state your opinion or “answer.” Probing questions honor others and provide additional information for you and those with whom you are engaging. The customary reactions of “I think” or “my take on it is” tend to limit options rather than expand them.
But question asking is not primarily a delaying tactic or a shrewd way to get more information before then giving your view. To use questions in this way quickly reveals a manipulative style and diminishes the leader. Instead, the use of questions is to gather more information in order to clarify for you and others exactly what is at stake.
Questions are common in the Bible. Jesus was an adept questioner. The questions in this resource are more practical than profound, but the gift of thoughtful questioning can enhance leadership without necessarily rising to biblical significance.
In response to requests for a collection of questions used in “The Right Question” column over the years, we have organized selected ones by topic and are making them available in this collection. The topics are: The Church’s Purpose; Remembering a Ministry’s Purpose; Identifying and Supporting Leaders; Communication; Reaching New Disciples; Seeing Your Church as Others Do; Reviewing Programs; Creative Abandonment; Assessing Differing Directions; Planning; Understanding Your Church’s Identity; Knowing What’s Going On; Making the Most of Meetings; Making Good Decisions; Facing Challenges; and Personal Reflection and Assessment.
By Lovett Weems
“Leaders do not need answers. Leaders must have the right questions.” These two sentences introduce one of the most popular features in each issue of “Leading Ideas,” the online newsletter of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership of Wesley Theological Seminary. This feature grew out of Director Lovett H. Weems’s realization years ago that leaders spend far too much time trying to figure out the “right answers” to a range of issues facing congregational life, while that time would be more profitably used in discerning a few key questions that can change the direction of a church.
Leaders have great power, but it is often not the kind of power people assume goes with positions of authority. Few leaders, even at the highest levels of organizations, can — or should — simply decide something and make it happen. This is certainly true for lay and clergy leaders in congregations. God’s wisdom is far more abundant than that. However, leaders have tremendous power to set agendas and involve people in reflecting upon topics of concern. Virtually any formal leader can invite those involved in their sphere of leadership into conversations on topics that matter to them and to those with whom they serve.
Leaders do well to frame those topics in clear relationship to the mission of the ministry, either the congregation or one of its specific ministries. More than likely, it is some dimension of that mission that needs special attention. The leader could announce that there are problems or opportunities related to this aspect of the mission, but this would position the leader more as an advocate than a leader. There is a time for advocacy but not most of the time. A more helpful stance is to be the one who opens subjects for discernment with probing open-ended questions that assume that those engaged are just as committed to a faithful outcome as the leader.
When questioning becomes a way of life for a leader, a vast constituency of free “consultants” is constantly enriching your leadership with clues, ideas, patterns, and discoveries well beyond those available to other leaders.
In response to requests for a collection of questions used in “The Right Question” column over the years, we have organized selected ones by topic and are making them available in this collection. The topics are: Understanding Your Church’s Identity; Supporting Leaders; Mission and Outreach; Reaching New Disciples; Staffing and Hiring; Reviewing Programs; Use of Time; Planning; In Times of Transition; Seeking Feedback; Fruitful Leadership; Making Good Decisions; Facing Challenges; Preaching; Looking for Clues; and Personal Reflection and Assessment. We hope these questions will help you lead with the power that comes from better knowing the hearts and minds of those with whom you serve.
By Lovett Weems
“Leaders do not need answers. Leaders must have the right questions.” These two sentences introduce one of the most popular features in each issue of Leading Ideas, the online newsletter of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership (churchleadership.com) of Wesley Theological Seminary (wesleyseminary.edu). This feature grew out of my realization years ago that leaders spend far too much time trying to figure out the “right answers” to a range of issues facing congregational life, while that time would be more profitably used in discerning a few key questions that can change the direction of a church.
Increasing evidence shows that the ability to ask questions and then listen and respond in ways consistent with your mission is key to strong organizations, including churches. Innovation comes from listening, especially listening to those you seek to serve. But listening must always be tied to the larger purpose of the ministry. The goal is not so much to satisfy constituents as it is improve how the mission is fulfilled.
Increasingly, church leaders have less direct contact with the people the ministry seeks to help as more and more direct engagement is done by others, especially in larger churches — staff, church school teachers, congregational care teams, team leaders, youth counselors, etc. That is one reason why leaders must create opportunities to have ongoing conversations with a range of people who experience a church’s ministry.
You see, to ask questions, leaders have to interact with people. Making such conversations commonplace provides a source of knowledge and renewal from such direct contact. One certainly sees things from a different perspective when talking with a diverse constituency. Insulation from those views does not help leaders or their ministries.
By Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost
“In a time when the need for and the relevance of the Gospel has seldom been greater, the relevance of the church has seldom been less. The Shaping of Things to Come explores why the church needs to rebuild itself from the bottom up. Frost and Hirsch present a clear understanding of how the church can change to face the unique challenges of the twenty-first century. This missional classic has been thoroughly revised and updated.”
By Phil Maynard
An exploration of 5 key shifts congregations must make to become vital, effective, and fruitful: 1. From Fellowship to Hospitality, 2. From Worship as an Event to Worship as a Lifestyle, 3. From Membership to Discipleship, 4. From ‘Serve Us’ to Service, and 5. From ‘Survival Mentality’ to Generosity.
Based on years of research, coaching, and consulting with local congregations this book provides helpful, practical methods for developing effective ministry.
Most twenty-first century churches are neither missional nor effective in reaching people with the gospel. That’s just the truth of the matter. Most of our churches are stuck, declining, aging and struggling in various ways. SHIFT is written most explicitly for the church that thought they had ministry figured out 30 years ago, but where nothing today is working as well as it used to work. If this is the case in the place that you call church this book may get your church’s leaders thinking through the key movements for effective ministry.
by Brandon O’Brien. Publisher: Bethany House Publishers.
By Tony Morgan“Stuck in a Funk? is Tony Morgan’s well-crafted analysis of how leaders can help reinvigorate their churches and congregations while at the same time making a bigger impact in their ministry. Morgan’s work is simple and filled with practical, useful insights. The author seeks to help church pastors and other leaders to “get unstuck,” and remove any and all forms of clutter that might be blocking a new and better path for their ministry and congregation. The book is especially designed for the church that has been stuck for decades and is facing decline, or the church that has had a degree of success and strong impact in the recent past, yet somehow finds itself plateaued.
Throughout the pages of Stuck in a Funk?, Morgan shares his desire to help churches have a bigger, more effective impact on people’s lives, as well as in the communities they serve. Morgan’s maverick, insightful strategies are not simply theory. Rather, they are time-tested ideas and methods that have been proven from his work with churches during his successful pastoral and consulting career.
In terms of a broad, overarching theme that defines the author’s tactics for enhancing the quality of church leadership, Morgan prompts the reader to rethink their systems and strategies. He believes that one cannot hope to get different results without engaging a different approach.
Morgan does this by providing essential wisdom and application to help churches take their next steps. Based on four previously released e-books in the Leisure Suit series, Stuck in a Funk? examines why churches get “stuck,” how a church can move forward under a new vision, how leaders can best enact change, and how to communicate when change is needed.
Stuck in a Funk? includes guided self-assessment and a template for establishing an action plan. It is designed to be read and discussed with a leadership team who can work together to enact positive change.”
by Timothy L. Cool. Publisher: iUniverse,Inc..
Step by step guide for planning the full expansion of your property.
by Gary L. McIntosh
Focuses on how to turn a church around that has stopped growing
Click to see full review
This book is meant to assist us in understanding what is blocking the growth of our churches and what we can do to see it reach the new level of impact.
The book explains the “impact of age and size” on ministries and the steps necessary for a ministry to “remain fruitful and faithful to its mission”.
The information in this book is very helpful in understanding the implications present in ministries as they grow and develop. It should serve as a good start toward addressing the particular challenges you will face in your ministry as it ages.
Who will benefit?
Pastors, leaders and anyone that is concerned about the church fulfilling its mission.
How does it benefit?
It will help the reader understand the challenges they face in their particular ministry are not unique to their situation and they are given solutions, step by step, to answer those challenges.
Where does it fit in the ministry design process?
It is preferred at the start of the process but it can be inserted anywhere in the process to help the design team.
By Bob Farr and Kay Kotan
Ten Prescriptions for a Healthy Church
offers prescriptions for the top ten issues seen during church
consultations. Bob Farr and Kay Kotan share their expertise from working
with churches across the country, detailing the most common concerns
and obstacles, and then go straight to the point: What to change, and
how, for positive results. They offer a helpful approach to fixing
common problems, and strategies to help congregations achieve success in
specific areas of ministry. Proven success stories offer practical
application, inspiration, and hope.
I love the way this book addresses issues of mission, vision, worship,
hospitality, outreach, and other important matters and offers concrete,
pragmatic practices to fulfill these without compromising the gospel.
This is a refreshing new guide for pastors and laity. –Tex Sample,
Robert B. and Kathleen Rogers Professor Emeritus of Church and Society,
Saint Paul School of Theology
Bob and Kay have so much experience. They get it: the types of changes most
churches need are not new. The pathway to health is not flashy. Basic,
steady, strong: That is what you find in this very useful material. —
Cathy Townley, Worship and Church Planting Consultant and Coach,
Minnesota Annual Conference, UMC
Bob Farr is a powerhouse of a leader who has a great grasp on what it takes
for a congregation to discover the path toward vitality and health. As
you read the prescriptions in this amazing book, you will see a catalyst
for Jesus Christ. –Bob Crossman, New Church Strategist; author, Committed to Christ: Six Steps to a Generous Life
Nobody is better than Bob and Kay at explaining the concept — and the
specifics — of ‘Prescriptions’ than can improve local church health.
Very few people have spent more hours in church basements, parlors and
sanctuaries across the country helping churches diagnose – and
overcome—the real life problems they face. Leveraging years of
experience and insights, this book is an easy-to-use, instrumental tool
for clergy and laity in churches that are willing to take definitive
steps toward a new future. –Jim Ozier, Church Consultant, Coach,
Speaker; author, Clip In: Risking Hospitality in Your Church
by Geoff Surratt. Publisher: Zondervan.
Real like stories of well-known pastors
by Ken Hemphill. Publisher: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
Focuses on removing growth restraints
By Thom Rainer
The Church Growth Movement has divided devout Christians. Even though Rainer is an advocate, his aim here is to present an objective view of the movement–its history, the theology associated with it, and the principles which seem to separate churches that grow from those that don’t.
By Jeffrey D. Johnson and Richard P. Belcher
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE AND MISSION OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST?
“Since Christ loved the church enough to die for her, every believer ought to share that passion. Jeffrey Johnson clearly does, and I believe you will find his enthusiasm contagious.” John MacArthur
In the Foreword he wrote for The Church: Why Bother?, Dr. Richard Belcher states, “This is the day and age of lawlessness and looseness both outside of God’s church and inside as well.” How heart-breaking, yet, how true. Everywhere we look these days, it seems there are “churches,” gatherings in the name of Jesus Christ, that more closely resemble the sinfulness of the unbelieving, Christ-rejecting world than the Lord and Savior who purchased His beloved church with his death and atoning blood. Today, more than ever, is a clear need for Christians to understand the nature, purpose, andfunctions of the local church.
What are some of the questions to be answered concerning a biblical understanding of the local church?
- Are Christians required to join themselves to a local church?
- What are the responsibilities of church membership?
- How is the church to be governed?
The Church: Why Bother? provides clear biblical instruction upon…
1. The NATURE of the Local Church versus the emphasis some place on the facilities wherein congregations gather.
2. The PURPOSE of the Local Church in standing firm for the truth and fostering unity and community in the pursuit of purity and holiness.
3. The CULTURE of the Local Church in its motives and motivations versus minimizing the holiness of God’s people and the unholiness of the world.
4. The ACTIVITIES of the Local Church in our worship of God through preaching the Word, prayer, fellowship, ordinances and song versus a focus and emphasis on programs.
5. The WORSHIP of God in the Local Church with attention to God through Christ as opposed to an emphasis upon self; of striving for biblical regulated worship in our services than a free-for-all that falls far short of the glory of God.
by Kent Hunter (Author)
The Future is Now takes you through how God is moving and working in the church today and the key strategies needed to increase effectiveness in ministry and mission.
By James Emery White
by Ray Bowman and Eddy Hall. Publisher: Baker.
Focuses on options other than construction
by James A. Harnish. Publisher: Abingdon.
Focuses on rebirthing a church through discovering and developing their mission.