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.



  • Carving the Table

    By Greg Blake

    The memoirs of the Chief Encouragement Officer Greg Blake. Perhaps you have seen him in action, now read whats behind the CEO of Pepworks International.

    When we first got married  my parents bought us a old dining table that had come out of a bakery in NY. We bought an old fashioned icepick and thought it would be a great practice to have people carve their name in our table when they came for a visit….well 41 years later we are still continuing the tradition. We have hundreds of signatures. My 4 kids have bought an old table and are continuing the practice with their families. We even have sanded out the names of old boyfriends who didn’t make the cut!
    (I just finished my memoirs called Carving the Table (available in ebook format on Amazon) Click Here to get a copy!
    When folks visit our church for the first time, Debbie and I invite them over to our home on a Friday evening (Family Night) to get to know them better. Very non-threatening. We will also find out their occupation and will do our best to match them with another couple with the same occupation so there is an immediate connection.
    Have had numerous couples join because of the personal interest in their lives. I tell people that you can’t get to know people in the foyer of a church Sunday morning doing small talk.
    Unfortunately today we have become too busy to invest our lives in others and ultimately eternity.
  • Church Merger

    By Richard Laribee

    Based on actual case studies rather than untested assumptions, this study considers:
    • What questions to ask before considering a church merger?
    • When is church merger a good strateg?
    • What are the goals for effective church mergers?
    • When are church mergers counter-productive?
    • How are effective church mergers implemented?

  • Dangerous Church: Risking Everything To Reach Everyone

    by John Bishop. Publisher: Zondervan.

    Focuses on moving congregations out of their comfort zone to reach the lost.

    Click to see full review

    The author, John Bishop, is the founder and senior pastor of Living Hope Church in Vancouver, Washington. He shares his story while asking potent questions that every ministry needs to answer.

    Why are you doing church?

    If your church ceased to exist, would anyone notice?

    Will you lose to win?

    Who is building the church?

    These and other spin-off questions are presented in the midst of telling us his personal story and philosophy of ministry. I believe John will help you sort out the correct answers as you address these questions and apply them to your particular ministry situation. The book is well worth your time and effort to take the exercise of thinking through your answers to the root questions. Then the challenge comes to implement the changes necessary to align your life and ministry with God, His Word and increase the effectiveness of your ministry for His Glory. Take the test, read the book, apply your answers, make a difference for eternity.

  • Deep & Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend

    by Andy Stanley

    Deep and Wide provides church leaders with an in-depth look into North Point Community Church and its strategy for creating churches unchurched people absolutely love to attend. Andy writes, ‘Our goal is to create weekend experiences so compelling and helpful that even the most skeptical individuals in our community would walk away with every intention of returning the following week…with a friend!’

    For the first time, Andy explains his strategy for preaching and programming to ‘dual audiences’: mature believers and cynical unbelievers. He argues that preaching to dual audiences doesn’t require communicators to ‘dumb down’ the content. According to Stanley, it’s all in the approach.

  • Engage: A Guide to Creating Life-Transforming Worship Services

    by Nelson Searcy (Author), Jason Hatley (Author), Jennifer Dykes Henson (Author)

    No matter how great Sunday’s worship service was, there’s always another Sunday lurking at the end of the next week that must be planned. Church leaders often fall into ruts, working on automatic pilot just trying to get things together, which does not allow for much creativity or focus on designing services that lead to transformation for those involved in them.

    Engage is a step-by-step, stress-free guide to planning worship services that allow for and foster true life change. Comprehensive in scope, Engage provides teaching pastors, worship leaders, and volunteers with the tools they need to work together to develop and implement a worship planning system that improves communication, enhances creativity, and honors Jesus every week.

  • Eternal Impact: The Passion of Kingdom-Centered Communities

    by Ken Hemphill. Publisher: B & H.

    A Biblical study that focuses on the foundational teachings of the church in Matthew 16 and Acts 2.

  • For the City: Proclaiming and Living Out the Gospel

    by Darrin Patrick & Matt Carter. Publisher: Zondervan.

    Focuses on needs-based ministry approach.

    Click to see full review

    The authors, Darrin Patrick and Matt Carter, “explore what it means to be a church for the city God has called you to engage”. The book is addressed to church planters, established churches and Christians in general in hopes we will learn from their mistakes, “resubmit [our] church plans and programs to the Lord and analyze them again through the filter of the gospel” and personally “move from member to missionary” in reaching others for Christ. They hope God inspires us to that end.

    I believe the book is well written so that it can accomplish the author’s purposes in our lives. I would encourage you to give this book a fair audience by thoughtfully reading each of its pages. I found their individual stories to be inspirational, educational, informational and at times entertaining. I believe you can benefit spiritually by reading this book and it may just help you recalibrate your thinking about reaching your community for Christ, both individually and corporately. Below are some examples of the things they addressed within the 179 pages.

    1. The flawed thinking behind “plug and play”.(Pages 19 -20) The need for each individual ministry to discover and develop God’s divine plan instead of borrowing someone else’s ministry model.
    2. An analysis of four approaches churches often take toward the community in which they are located. (Pages 24-27)
    3. The personal stories of Darrin (pages 29-45) and Matt (47-62), with their different backgrounds and church planting experiences, should be an encouragement to church planters.
    4. They help us define contextualization and culture and how to approach the community you are called to reach along with several approaches we are to avoid. (Pages 68-83)
    5. They urge us to consider “how do you best leverage the opportunities the city provides for authentic, gospel-centered community”? (Pages 93-115) The questions on page 115 are priceless for those wanting to make a difference for Christ in the lives of others.
    6. Small group design and purpose. (Page 120 -121)

    I found myself highlighting and marking the margins of this book on most pages. This is a good sign it has much to offer the reader.

  • Get Their Name: Grow Your Church by Building New Relationships

    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.

  • Healthy Systems, Healthy Church E-Book

    By Nelson Searcy (Author)


  • High Expectations

    By Thom Rainer

    For over a quarter of a century the problem of losing church members has progressively increased. Today the situation is so bad that less than one-third of the members in some churches attend worship services. Church leaders are crying for help. In an effort to help church leaders, the Billy Graham School of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary conducted a massive research project involving nearly 287 churches. The most revealing aspect of the study was that the higher expectations placed on members, the greater the likelihood that the members would stay and be involved with the church. Using the data gathered from this project, Thom Rainer presents the first-ever comprehensive study about ‘closing the back door.’ Rainer looks at why people are leaving the church and how church leaders can keep the members.

  • Hybrid Church: The Fusion of Intimacy and Impact (Jossey-Bass Leadership Network Series)

    by David Browning. Publisher: Jossey-Bass
  • Leading Kingdom Movements

    by Mike Breen


  • Leading Missional Communities

    By Mike Breen

  • Leading the DiscipleShift: Becoming a Disciple-Making Church

    by Brandon Guindon (Author) , Lance Wigton (Author) , Luke Yetter (Author)

    Equip church leaders with the tools and insights needed to rally people around renewed purpose. Drawing from biblical principles and the experience of Real Life Ministries, this workbook guides users to evaluate the power of ministry alignment and personal influence for the sake of each church’s God-given mission to make disciples.

    * 9 weeks of material designed for a church staff or ministry leadership team
    * Each week includes four personal exercises and one collaborative session for a team meeting
    * A thorough outline of practical steps for leading a new or established church toward a unified mission of disciple-making
    * Interactive workbook includes assessments for areas of ministry and leadership

  • Mission Creep: The Five Subtle Shifts That Sabotage Evangelism & Discipleship

    By Larry Osborne

    “Evangelism and discipleship aren’t rocket science. When Jesus sent out a ragtag team from Galilee with the expectation that they would evangelize and disciple the world, they pulled it off as a natural and spontaneous outworking of their faith.
    Yet 2,000 years later, this same natural and spontaneous process has been turned into a complex and highly programmed skill left to the professionals. Pastor and author Larry Osborne exposes what’s gone wrong and the five subtle shifts that sabotage our best efforts to reach the lost and bring them to full maturity.”

  • Missional Communities: The Rise of the Post-Congregational Church

    by Reggie McNeal. Publisher: Jossey-Bass.

    Provides a solution to reaching unchurch believers and nonbelievers.

  • New Kind of Church, A: Understanding Models of Ministry for the 21st Century

    by Aubrey Malphurs. Publisher: Baker Books.

    It focuses on church model analysis

  • Real Good Church: How Our Church Came Back from the Dead, and Yours Can, Too

    By Molly Phinney Baskette

    Brian D. McLaren praises Real Good Church. . .
    “OK, folks: it’s here: the practical, encouraging, field-tested book to help pastors and lay leaders turn declining churches around. Really. This is it! It names the skills you need and books to help you get them, gives you samples of job descriptions and letters and lots of other super-practical stuff. As a veteran pastor, I can tell you that Molly has packed these pages with the guidance you need.”

    “This is a practical manual of everything our church did,” says author Molly Phinney Baskette, “to reverse our death spiral and become the healthy, stable, spirited and robust community it is today—evident in the large percentage of children and young adults in our church, and a sixfold increase in pledged giving in the last decade.”

    Baskette, pastor of First Church Somerville, UCC in the Boston area, strongly believes her church’s strategies will work for any church, in any setting, regardless of denomination, demographics, and political landscape. In this new book, she shares everything her church did, addressing topics such as: outreach and growth strategies, finances and giving, creative worship, church conflict and change, anxiety and humor, and much more.

    What makes Real Good Church unique in the field of church growth books? It’s practical. It actually tells churches what they can do. . .and how to do it.

    It offers beginning and intermediary steps for growth and renewal. Churches, no matter what situation they’re in, will be able to jump in and get to work.

    It has a sense of humor. Baskette’s easygoing, often self-deprecating writing style and approachable strategies will empower the reader and their church to revitalize itself. (If her church could do it, we can, too!)

    Real Good Church is a testament to Baskette’s and First Church Somerville UCC’s success and a gift of hope for all churches that find themselves struggling to keep their doors open.

  • Sentness: Six Postures of Missional Christians

    By Kim Hammond and Darren Cronshaw

    Ever wonder why people fall asleep in church?

    “It happens. We’ve all seen it. We shuffle into rows of seats that grow more comfortable with every new fundraising campaign. We slouch down and settle in for an hour or so, as singers and storytellers and preachers and teachers take their turns filling our ears. And almost without fail, at least one of us nods off while listening to the greatest story ever told.

    The church was not meant to be like this. The church was meant to be on its feet, in the world, making all things new. The church was meant to be sent.

    Kim Hammond and Darren Cronshaw want to help us—all of us—rediscover our sentness.

    Dive into Sentness, and explore the six postures of a church that’s keeping pace with God’s work in the world. Rediscover the gospel that first quickened your pulse and got you up on your feet, ready to go wherever Jesus called you. Get Sentness, and prepare to get sent.”

  • Shaped By God’s Heart: The Passion and Practices of Missional Churches

    by Milfred Minatrea. Publisher: Jossey-Bass.

    Focuses on return to Biblical living.

    Click to see full review


    To define, describe and illustrate by examples what a missional church is and does along with encouraging us to be missional.


    he author advocates for a church that is “reproducing community of authentic disciples, being equipped as missionaries sent by God, to live and proclaim His Kingdom in their world”. He declares that churches should be externally focused instead of internally focused and that success is defined by not by the number of activities a church sponsors but whether those activities “result in the accomplishing God’s mission for His Church”. He urges the reader to discover with him the passions and 9 distinct practices of missional churches./p>


    This is an interesting read with much to encourage the reader. Take time to let the concepts sink into your thought patterns and discern for yourself what you can take away from this book to assist you in leading your church.


    Who will benefit?

    Pastors and those that follow him.

    How will it benefit?

    Realignment with biblical practices in fulfilling the Great Commission.

    Where does it fit in the process?

    Development of your foundational thinking for the purpose of church and the processes for carrying out that purpose.

    Aha Thought:

    Page 103, last paragraph entitled “They check that actions are based upon Purpose and the rest of that paragraph on page 104. “Strategy is allocation of current resources to tomorrow’s purpose. Action is incremental performance in fulfillment of strategy. Performance, what is done moment by moment, will result in fulfillment of strategies and ultimate accomplishment of stated purpose, will evidence that the strategyies were not appropriate to the stated purpose, or will reveal that that stated purpose was not the actual purpose. Anytime performance does not enhance accomplishment of the stated purpose, then the performance is the actual purpose. More than what is stated, what is done reveals purpose. Actions speak louder than words. To accomplish purpose, Missional churches analyze their current practices against the ultimate purpose. They check that actions are based upon purpose.”

  • Starting Small: The Ultimate Small Group Blueprint

    By Ben Reed (Author)

    The author believes  it takes a system to produce disciples, churn out leaders, and compel people to be on mission together through small groups. He guides the reader through the development of that process.

  • The Attractional Church: Growth Through a Refreshing, Relational, and Relevant Church Experience

    by Bill Hornsby. Publisher: Faith Words.

    Focuses on representing Christ in a way that appeals to the unchurched.

  • The Book of Church Growth

    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.

  • The Catch: Mega Growth Strategies for Ministries of Any Size

    by Deborah Anderson-Singleton

    Ideas to help a ministry, regardless of size, reach their community and make disciples

  • The Externally Focused Church

    by Rick Rusaw & Eric Swanson. Publisher: Group.

    Addresses a much needed change in church culture in the 21rst century.

  • The Externally Focused Church

    by Rick Rusaw & Eric Swanson. Publisher: Group.

    Addresses a much needed change in church culture in the 21rst century.

  • The Ministry of the Missional Church: A Community Led by the Spirit

    by Craif Van Gelder. Publisher: Baker Books.

    Focuses on the core DNA of a church and its development.

  • The New Traditional Church

    By Tony Morgan


  • The Purpose-Driven Church: Growth Without Compromising Your Message & Mission

    by Rick Warren Publisher: Zondervan

    It focuses on philosophy and processes of ministry

  • The Strategically Small Church

    by Brandon J. O’Brien. Publisher: Bethany House.

    Finally help for smaller churches that focuses on the strengths of being small.

  • Transitioning the Church: Leading the Established Church to Reach the Unchurched

    By Zack Williams

    “Is the church primarily for the churched or the unchurched? How do church leaders transition an established church to reach the unchurched? Zach describes one of the biggest problems in many established churches: They have lost their drive to reach the unchurched. This book reveals how the problem perpetuates because of church leadership. Too many church leaders are content with an inward focus.

    Zach identifies how leaders can help established churches transition from an inward focus to an outward focus. Transitioning is one of the most important characteristics a church can have because it involves the mission of Jesus, to take those who are hurting and lost and give them life.”

  • You Only Have to Die: Leading Your Congregation to New Life

    by James A. Harnish. Publisher: Abingdon.

    Focuses on rebirthing a church through discovering and developing their mission.