Helpful Books for Church Leaders

Today I begin teaching an online course for Andover-Newton Theological School called, “Pastoral Uses of Social Media.”  In the course, we’re learning about social media and its ministry uses, but we’re also learning about how social media has been a game-changer as far as being a leader in our culture.

To that end, I’ve assigned four books in the course, each of which has a lot to say about the way that organizations (like churches and ministries) need to organize themselves for the future.  The fact is, you can invest all you want in social media in order to advance the mission of your church, but if you don’t understand how the social web has changed how people relate to one another, then you might as well stick with mailers.

Each of these books has key insights about what’s going on right now, and I highly recommend them all.

The four books are:

What books do you think are essential for church leaders today?

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  • Tony – thanks for posting these resources. This stuff is really helpful!

    When you say “but if you don’t understand how the social web has changed how people relate to one another, then you might as well stick with mailers.” is SO true. This comes up over and over again.

    I get to talk with people all the time (usually people over 40) who think that this stuff is a ‘neet’ gimmick or passing fad. Trying to understand how it is actually changing how people relate to each other AND their expectations for things like the church… well, it is huge.

  • Thanks for this. I am really diving into the world of social media, and I am learning that to reach people we have never reached we must do things we have never done. I am learning that through the use social media we can have levels of influence that we have never had before.

    Now, like Bo alluded to, we must help others to recognize the power and momentum behind social media.

  • Kennon Callahan’s “Small, Strong Congregations”

  • Let me publicly thank Bruce Reyes-Chow for suggesting the Charlene Li book! And Michael Toy for gifting me with his hand-me-down Kindle, which I love! This is the first book I’m reading on it.

  • Ircel Harrison

    I recommend THE STARFISH AND THE SPIDER. Great insights about “leadership” organizations.

  • Ircel Harrison

    Sorry. Should have said “leaderless” organizations.

  • Ryan Braley

    The Autobiography of Malcom X. Great insight into race relations, Islam, Christianity, and religion (in general) in America.

  • Bobby Bell

    Tony, is this class a one-time thing or will you be teaching it in future semesters? It sounds really interesting…

    Ryan, who’s the author of the book you’re talking about?

  • Ryan Braley


    “The Autobiography of Malcom X”, was told to and written down by Alex Haley, the author of Roots.

    As a white Christian man living in the USA, I found the book very thought provoking and challenging. Plus, Malcom’s story is truly extraordinary. Time magazine called it one of the 20 must reads of the century.

  • Tony,
    Thanks for the book suggestions!! I’m in the final stages of accepting my first lead pastor position (after 19 years in youth ministry), so I’m reading everything I can get my hands on regarding church leadership.
    A good book for leaders new to a church or organization is “The First 90 Days” by Michael Watkins – Harvard Business School Press.