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.



  • 11 Innovations in the Local Church: How Today’s Leaders Can Learn, Discern and Move into the Future

    by Elmer Towns, Ed Stetzer and Warren Bird. Publisher: Regal.
    First-hand experiences of the different ministry models

  • 125 Tips for MultiSite Churches

    by Jim Tomberlin
  • Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work (Jossey-Bass Leadership Network Series)

    by Jim Tomberlin. Publisher: Jossey-Bass

  • Breakout Churches: Discover How to Make the Leap

    Churches by Thom Rainer. Publisher: Zondervan.
    Focus is on success stories.

    Click Here to Review


    To provide help to declining churches by examining those churches that reversed their decline and experienced God working in their midst.


    Real life case studies of 13 churches that moved from “stagnancy to growth and from mediocrity to greatness.” It is patterned after the principles of Jim Collins’ book Good to Great.


    This book gives hope and helpful insights to churches that are plateaued or in decline. The examples and stories should encourage and direct others to move ahead with developing their own “break out ministry”. The only caution I would give is that I believe each church is unique. Therefore borrowing “mechanics” or strategies from another ministry may not fit your situation. Do not sidestep your need to connect with God when determining what to do next in your ministry. Just because something worked in many other ministries doesn’t mean it will work the same way in yours.


    Who will benefit?

    Pastors and lay leaders that need encouragement and know how.

    How does it benefit?

    Directs readers to the need for humble leaders that are dependent on the Lord and willing to be good stewards of the resources and opportunities entrusted to them. It provides examples of successful efforts to turn a church around.

    Where does it fit in the Ministry Design process?

    Research and examples of others that successfully faced the challenges faced when leading a declining church. It ministers to the heart not just the head.

    Aha Thought:

    “The breakout churches did not just look for the best qualified people to be a part of the ministry team. They sought people who would be the right fit with their personalities and philosophies of ministry. The “team” concept is vital in these churches. In the athletic world, we sometimes see a team of extraordinary athletes who perform poorly in competition because they don’t work well together. The same thing can happen in the church. Our breakout churches know how critical it is to have highly competent people on their ministry team who work well together.” (p. 101)

  • Churchmorph: How Megatrends Are Reshaping Christian Communities

    by Eddie Gibbs. Publisher: Baker Academic.
    A descriptive study of the changing nature of culture and church in North America.

  • Comeback Churches: How 300 Churches Turned Around and Yours Can Too

    by Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson. Publisher: B&H Publishing Group.
    Research results of churches that actually made it happen.

    Click Here to Review

    To give us the research to inform and the rest of the book to “illustrate and advise-providing…some suggestions” so the readers “can impliement best practices” in their church context. It is a “book of practical advice” from 324 churches and the two authors.


    Chapter 0: Examines what a church should be. This is the goal.
    Chapter 1: the need for making a change and the “degree of change required”. How churches get stuck and how to get unstuck.
    Chapter 2: The number one key factor (as reported by the 325 churches in the research) is leadership. “Leadership and vision are major keys to any type of turnaround in churches”. They define, show the need for, and give the role and character needed by “comeback” leaders.
    Chapter 3: Discusses three key elements required for turnaround churches. “The three “faith factors” are Renewed belief in the gospel, a renewed servant’s attitude and strategic prayer.
    Chapter 4: Deal with worship, music, change and preaching.
    Chapter 5 & 6: Discuss how to develop a comprehensive outreach process.
    Chapter 7: Deals with getting the church family involved in the turnaround.
    Chapter 8: Reveals the power of community and why we must create the right environment along with training the right leaders.
    Chapter 9: Otyher factors contributing to comeback churches are their facilities, marketing, and pastor development through reading other resources (books) then using intentional learning to apply what they learned to lead the church in the turnaround process.
    Chapter 10: The importance of new or renewed pastor.
    Chapter 11: The 10 most common transformations for comeback churches. The top 10 areas of change were: 1. Prayer 2. Children’s ministry 3.Evangelism 4. Youth ministry 5. Leadership 6. Missions 7. Assimilation 8. Worship 9. Sunday school/small groups 10. Organized structure
    Chapter 12: The three top factors that impacted their comeback were Prayer, Evangelism and Preaching. The three biggest challenges in making their comebacks were attitudes, finances and facilities. The authors ask the reader two questions from this chapter: 1. What do you believe to be the top 3 factors that would revitalize your church? And 2. What would you say are the major barriers to your church experiencing a comeback?
    Chapter 13: Summary review of key points in the book.


    This book provides practical and applicable advice to churches that are declining and plateauing. It will stir your thinking and perhaps give you direction and hope for leading your own turnaround.

    Who will benefit?
    Any leader facing the need for a “turnaround” in the ministry they lead.

    How will it benefit?
    The research results and the advice of the two authors will provide you help in leading your ministry to be a “comeback” church.

    Where does it fitin the process?
    It is a research resource and a guide book for developing a strategic plan for turning your ministry around.

  • 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.

  • Effective Evangelistic Churches

    By Thom Rainer

    Part research project, part detective story, this book presents results from the most comprehensive study of successful churches in history. These 586 churches across America all excel in winning new souls for Christ, and have a remarkable range of things in common. Some stereotypes are shattered, some results are astonishing, and everything is written in a readable, non-technical style.– Includes churches with at least one baptism per 19 members annually– Churches range from 60 to 6,000 in membership; more than 2/3 claim 100-499 members– Reveals the seven evangelism tools most important to successful churches– Discusses popular misconceptions about church location, size, event evangelism and more

  • 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.

  • God’s Unwelcome Recovery: Why the New Establishment Wants to Proclaim the Death of Faith in the UK

    By Sean Oliver-Dee

    “Sean Oliver-Dee is a Fellow of the Oxford Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture, Regents Park College, University of Oxford and the interreligious advisor for the diocese of Peterborough. He is also associate researcher for the Anglican representative to the European Union. He is a regular consultant for government on identity issues and has written several papers for NGOs and think tanks.”

    The author’s purpose in writing this book has been to accomplish two things. His first purpose is to correct the “mistaken impression” that the church in the UK is in decline and second is to reveal the underlying agenda that he believes is driving the lack of reporting on the growth of the church. He believes the negative reporting about the church has now penetrated the thinking of the congregations themselves and thus the need to address this issue head on. He wants to counteract the lopsided image portrayed in the media. He believes we should re-evaluate our thinking about the place of the church in Great Britain and he writes to support his arguments.

    The author seeks to make his case by presenting evidence to support the argument that the church is growing and that it is not headed toward decline and death.  He shows the value of the church to their country and each community along with dismantling the misconceptions common among his countrymen.

    While the book was written about the churches in the UK  and the struggles they are facing I believe it can be of help to others, in particular to those of us living the U.S. Are we not somewhat headed in the same direction?

    I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kregel for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

  • Great Evangelical Recession, The: 6 Factors That Will Crash the American Church…and How to Prepare

    by John S. Dickerson (Author)

    John Dickerson identifies six factors that are radically eroding the American church and offers biblical solutions to prepare evangelicals for spiritual success, even in the face of alarming trends.

  • Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow

    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.

  • Make or Break Your Church in 365 Days: A Daily Guide to Leading Effective Change

    By Paul D. Borden (Author)

  • 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.”

  • Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World

    By Michael Hyatt

    Step by step guide for developing your social media communication

  • Podcasting Church

    By Paul Clifford


  • Quitting Church: Why the Faithful Are Fleeing and What to Do About It

    by Julia Duin. Publisher: Baker Books.
    What to do about the shrinking church in North America.

  • Reaching People Under 40 While Keeping People Over 60: Being Church for All Generations

    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)”

  • Renovate or Die: 10 Ways to Focus Your Church on Mission

    By Bob Farr and Kay Kotan

    Bob Farr asserts that to change the world, we must first change the Church. As Adam Hamilton says in the Foreword, “Read [this book] carefully with other leaders in your church…You’ll soon discover both a desire to renovate your church and the tools to effectively lead your church forward.”  If we want to join Robert Schnase and claim radical hospitality, passionate worship, intentional faith development, risk-taking mission and service, and extravagant generosity, we must also engage pastors and motivate churches. We must renovate and overhaul our churches and not merely redecorate and tinker with our church structure.

    With straight forward language and practical tips, this book will inspire and help you organize your church for new life on the mission field. Learn how to grow your church and discover the commitments that denominational leaders must make to guarantee the fruitfulness of local congregations.

  • Right Questions for Church Leaders, Volume 2

    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.

  • Right Questions for Church Leaders, Volume 3

    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 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.

  • 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.”

  • Shift: Helping Congregations Back Into the Game of Effective Ministry

    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.

  • Strengths Finder 2.0

    By Tom Rath. Publisher: Gallup Press.
    This book is a helpful strength assessment tool.

  • The American Church in Crisis

    by David T. Olson. Publisher: Zondervan.
    Provides frightening results and analysis of the declinging condition of the North American church.

  • 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 CHURCH: Why Bother?: The Nature, Purpose, & Functions of the Local Church

    By Jeffrey D. Johnson and Richard P. Belcher


    “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.

  • The Convergent Church: Missional Worshipers in an Emerging Culture

    by Mark Liederbach & Alvin L. Reid. Publisher: Kregel.
    A discussion of the collision of church cultures.

  • The Externally Focused Church

    by Rick Rusaw & Eric Swanson. Publisher: Group.

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

  • The High Definition Leader: Building Multiethnic Churches in a Multiethnic World

    By Derwin L. Gray

    The United States is know as the “Great Melting Pot,” yet a survey of our churches on Sunday Morning would reveal a noticeably different portrait of our ethnic make-up. Every facet of American culture is multi-ethnic. Yet, the Church is not. The church is segregated. Drawing from scripture, Derwin shows how the modern church is suffering from being homogenous and how we are not fulfilling our calling as effectively as we should be.

    The High-Definition Leader is a call for churches and their leaders to grow out of ignorance, class-ism, racism, and greed into a flourishing and vibrant community of believers united in their devotion to serving God and sharing His love with the world.

  • The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated

    By James Emery White

    “The single fastest-growing religious group of our time is those who check the box next to the word none on national surveys.

    In America, this is 20 percent of the population.

    And most churches are doing virtually nothing to reach them.

    In this hard-hitting examination of our churches’ current evangelism methods, which often result only in transfer growth–Christians moving from one church to another–rather than in reaching the nones, James Emery White calls us to discover the mission field right outside our doors. The pastor of a megachurch that is currently experiencing 70 percent of its growth from the unchurched, White knows how to reach this growing demographic, and here he shares his ministry strategies with concerned pastors and church leaders, answering questions like

    · Exactly who are the unaffiliated?
    · What caused this seismic shift in our culture?
    · How can our churches reach these people?

    If you long to see growth in your church that is the result of lost people entering into the family of God, this book is where you should start.

    “In an era of increasing complexity and religious apathy, James Emery White has written a book that is helpful, informative, challenging, and timely. Those who care about communicating the gospel in this complex culture and think the church must regroup and re-engage should read The Rise of the Nones.”–Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research”

  • The Shape of Faith to Come: Spiritual Formation and Future of Discipleship

    Brad J. Waggoner. Publisher: B & H Publishing Group.
    Focuses on what is broken and how to fix it.

  • They Like Jesus but Not the Church: Insights from Emerging Generations

    By Dan Kimball (Author)



  • Transformational Church

    by Ed Stetzer and Thom S. Rainer. Publisher: B & H Publishing Group.
    Research and analysis that uncovers the components of churches that are seeing lives changed in their congregations and communities.

  • Transforming Church: Bringing Out the Good to Get to Great

    by Kevin Ford. Publisher: SaltRiver (Tyndale House)
    Focus is on growth and development.

    Click Here to Review


    To confront ministry leaders with the need for spiritual transformation in their congregation and community by asking a series of questions.


    The book is about “churches that have the courage to embrace change and to confront adaptive issues in order to become transforming churches”. “These courageous churches are continually transforming how they lead, operate, and minister” in order to be faithfully effective for Christ. The author suggests five key areas our churches can improve in order “to fulfill its mission of changing lives”.

    The five key indicators of church health are

    • Are members at your church experiencing authentic life change?

    • Does your church have a clear sense of mission and a compelling vision for the future?

    • Does your church embrace change to fulfill its mission more effectively?

    • Are your leaders successfully mentoring and mobilizing your members for ministry?

    • Is your church effective in transforming your local community, town or city?


    Let me cut to the chase, go get the book and study it. You don’t have to agree with everything in a book or an author’s body of work to gain great insight and assistance in fulfilling God’s calling on your life. I believe this book will help you.


    Who will benefit from this book?

    Ministry leaders

    How will they benefit from this book?

    Self analysis

    Where does this book fit in the process of ministry design?

    The front end of your ministry design. It is just one of the many approaches you can use to design your ministry.

    Aha Thought:

    “Every church needs transformation. Those that don’t change die. Don’t get me wrong. I am not advocating change for the sake of change. The wrong kind of change can be toxic. Healthy change, however, is required for growth, maturity, and adaptation. Like any organization, churches can become stagnant, complacent, irrelevant, or ineffective without transformational change to keep them focused on their mission. But without clear understanding of the nature of change, the chances of growing a healthy church are diminished.” (p. xv)

  • 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.”

  • Turn Around Strategies for the Small Church

    by Ron Crandall. Publisher: Abingdon Press.
    Finally help for small churches in planning their future.

  • Uncovered

    By Rod Tucker

    “Greg was homeless. As he walked through the park one day, he was surrounded by people. Good people. Caring people. Christian people. People doing ministry. But people totally oblivious to Greg. No one saw him, talked to him, noticed him, or tried to minister to him. The Christians were preoccupied—working hard on the ministry they were putting together—a ministry intended to provide help and healing to the most vulnerable in their city, a ministry designed to reach . . . the homeless! How do Christians, benefactors of the overwhelming grace of an immeasurably generous God, fail so miserably at showing and distributing—of all things—grace? In voice and style evocative of Donald Miller and Scot McKnight, yet with a message all his own, Rod Tucker explores how we Christians have become masters of self-deceptive and fake moral living. Just like Adam and Eve, we don’t want anyone to know we are spiritually naked. But covering up around God denies us the freedom of his grace. Until we can be honest with ourselves, honest with God, and honest with others, daily grace will continue to elude us, either as gift received or as gift given. We remain trapped in our Botox spirituality until we come to grips with exactly who we are.”

  • What’s Your God Language?: Connecting with God through Your Unique Spiritual Temperament (Nine Spiritual Temperaments–How Knowing Yours Can Help You)

    By Myra Perrine (Author)