Summer Reading List for Church Leaders: 13 Must-Read Books

You probably set New Year's resolutions, but do you create big summer goals? If you are serious about it, self-improvement shouldn’t be saved for once a year. Re-inspire yourself to improve your church leadership skills by following a summer reading list.

Grant Glas
June 1, 2022
Kids Ministry Leadership

Depending on how avid a reader you are, this list could be anywhere from 3 to 13 books in length. Embrace your vacation and free time you have on your hands this summer to fine-tune your leadership skills so you have more to offer your community come fall.

Here are our top 13 picks:

Karl Vaters – The Grasshopper Myth

The Grasshopper Myth book cover

The grasshopper myth is the negativity of comparison between bigger mega-churches that can make small church leaders feel like grasshoppers in comparison. In this book, Vaters focuses on the unique struggles faced by small churches, including a discussion guide to open up the debate within your ministry.

Thom S. Rainer – The Book of Church Growth

The Book Of Church Growth book cover

While this book has divided Christians because of its focus on numerical growth, many find the simplistic numbers-based angle easy to understand. The Book of Church Growth presents an objective view of the differences between churches that grow and those that don’t. 

Ira North – Balance: A Tried and Tested Formula for Church Growth

IRA North book cover

This book is written by an accomplished church leader who shares his knowledge and expertise with the reader. Though he passed away in 1984, North’s name lives on as the leader whose vision helped Madison Church of Christ grow from 400 to more than 4,000 members. 

Peter Scazzero – The Emotionally Healthy Leader

The Emotional Healthy Leader book cover

Becoming an effective leader is reliant on merging who you are with what you do. Scazzero highlights the importance of having a rich, deep, and fulfilling inner relationship with God in being a powerful leader. Christian leadership is unique, and cultivating an emotionally healthy inner life will transform how you handle stress, build teams, and more.

Warren Bird and William Vanderbloemen – Next: Pastoral Succession That Works

Next: Pastoral Succession That Works book cover

One thing we know for certain is that leadership changes will always happen. It's something we cannot control. What we can control is how smoothly these changes happen when the right planning and processes are in place. This is one of the best books on leadership for pastors who have big changes coming up in their church. 

Frank Damazio – The Making of a Leader

The Making of a Leader book cover

This is one of the most unique books about leadership, as it compares the rise and falls of nations to the success of a church. Both need a strong and inspiring leader to help their people navigate the waters when it gets choppy, and Damazio outlines which characteristics are essential to do this successfully. 

Charles Arn and Gary L. McIntosh – What Every Pastor Should Know

What Every Pastor Should Know book cover

The best books about leadership offer a comprehensive guide to different elements of leading, and that’s what Arn and McIntosh offer here. Read this book for 101 essential rules to follow when leading your church and answers to real-life ministry questions. Stay ahead of the game with these tried and tested tips.

Larry Osborne – Sticky Church

Sticky Church book cover

If you are looking to expand your church, this is one of the best leadership books to guide you through the process. Instead of focusing on opening your front doors, closing your back door might be more effective in keeping your church attendance up. Osbourne explains why small groups make a church more honest and "stickier," keeping people in. 


Lovett Weems – Church Leadership: Vision, Team, Culture, Integrity (Revised Version)

Church Leadership book cover

For Weems, church leadership is like discovering the faithful future into which God is calling the congregation and walking with the congregation into that future. Originally written in 1993, the 2010 revised version adds a modern touch to this essential read, making it more relatable to pastors and Christian leaders today.

Thom S. Rainer – Simple Church

Simple Church book cover

Simple Church is a church leadership book that uses empirical evidence to deduce the central pillars of church governing. Rainer uses a case study of more than 400 American churches to show that less is more with Christian discipleship. Putting clarity, movement, alignment, and focus first is all a successful church needs.

Paul David Tripp – Lead: 12 Gospel Principles for Leadership in the Church

Lead book cover

Written to help save the leadership crisis faced by the church, Tripp argues that there are 12 principles to follow, including grace, limits, balance, character, spiritual warfare, identity, servanthood, restoration, longevity, and more. He believes a weak leadership community is responsible for the increased rate of pastors quitting the church. 


C. Gene Wilkes – Jesus on Leadership

Jesus On Leadership book cover

Learn directly from the best with this book by Wilkes that dives into the methods that Jesus used to lead. The author interweaves their personal experiences with Scripture to highlight seven practical principles to assist today’s leaders in building a healthy team, like having a humble heart and exercising authority. 

Susan Beaumont – How to Lead When You Don't Know Where You're Going

How To Lead book cover

If you are a church leader experiencing feelings of hopelessness, failure, or loss, reading this book is a must. Beaumont directs disoriented leaders into a place of spiritual transformation, helping them stand strong in their leadership. Firm organizational skills and deep communal discernment are some of the elements she uses to keep lost leaders on track.

As a church leader, you have a lot of responsibility on your shoulders. Embrace the role by teaching yourself essential leadership skills this summer.

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