Reading. Most of us have every intention to read more, but few of us actually read much.
But reading is one of the easiest and best ways to grow ourselves. And as leaders, we have a responsibility to grow ourselves in order to lead well.
Statistics show that reading by leaders is in decline. In fact, the lack of reading on the leadership level has declined to the point that some might consider it a crisis. Michael Hyatt, in his article called 5 Ways Reading Makes You a Better Leader, says “A readership crisis is really a leadership crisis”. And it really is. If you are a leader who doesn’t read, don’t count on leading well for very long. In fact, Hyatt says that reading helps you lead better in these 5 ways:
- Reading makes us better thinkers
- Reading improves our people skills
- Reading helps us master communication
- Reading helps us relax
- Reading keeps us young
I’m pretty sure all of these will help you lead your ministry better!
With that in mind, I encourage you to read! I know it can be a challenge, but when we make it a priority and make it a habit, it is amazing how much reading you can get done. In fact, here’s a tip I was given early on that really helped me make reading a regular practice. Ready? Here is it: commit to reading just one chapter a day.
Can you read one chapter per day? Virtually everyone can. And guess how many books you will read each year if you do this… about TWENTY FIVE books! Since less than half of all people read more than 4 books per year (see recent research here), reading 25 books would probably put you in the top 1% of readers. More importantly, it would go a long way toward equipping you to lead your ministry better.
10 Great Books Every Children’s Ministry Leader Should Read
These are in no particular order. I encourage you to choose what sequence to read them based on your most immediate need.
1. Developing the Leader Within You (2.0) by John Maxwell
I began ministry under the leadership of John Maxwell, right about the time the original version of this book came out. In the 25 years since, I have leaned on what I learned from John more than any other source. This is the updated version of John’s classic and, in my opinion, is a must read for anyone leading anywhere.
What you will learn: foundational leadership principles which every ministry leader ought to master.
2. Amplified Leadership by Dan Reiland
Full disclosure: Dan is a good friend of mine and has been a mentor for 25 years. He’s also recognized as one of the best Executive Pastors in the country and one of the best ministry coaches – in fact, he is known as the “pastor’s coach”! He knows leadership and he knows ministry. And he has packaged that knowledge into what I would consider the best ministry leadership book available.
What you will learn: 5 practices to establish leadership, influence people and impact others.
3. Don’t Quit by Gina McClain and Jessica Bealer
Recently published, this book addresses some of the key issues which take down ministry leaders and cause them to walk away from their calling. Instead, we want to be leaders who “don’t quit”. But in order to survive and thrive in ministry long-term, we’ve got to have an intentional strategy to do it. This book provides that strategy.
What you will learn: strategies for dealing with specific, key issues with which virtually all ministry leaders struggle.
* Bonus recommendation: The Myth of Balance by Frank Bealer (Jessica’s husband)
4. How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge by Clay Scroggins
One of the greatest myths of leadership is that you must be in charge in order to lead. This can be especially true for Children’s Ministry Leaders. But it’s just not true, and great leaders don’t buy it. Great leaders lead with or without the authority and learn to unleash their influence wherever they are.
What you will learn: how to nurture your vision and cultivate influence, even when you lack authority in your organization.
5. Children’s Ministry on Purpose by Steve Adams
In this terrific book by Steve Adams, Children’s Pastor at Saddleback Church, you will learn how to ask and answer five simple but powerful questions:
- Why are we on this journey?
- Where are you and where are you going?
- Who are we trying to reach?
- How will we move our children towards spiritual health?
- What are the essential elements necessary for the journey?
Questions we all need to answer as Children’s Ministry Leaders.
What you will learn: A proven process to follow to lead Children’s Ministry on purpose.
6. 7 Family Ministry Essentials by Michelle Anthony and Megan Marshman
You’ve heard me say it over and over again: “Children’s Ministry is Family Ministry and Family Ministry is Children’s Ministry”. Michelle and Megan offer a simple framework which will allow you to offer “family ministry” whether your ministry is called Family Ministry, or not.
What you will learn: Practical steps, inspirational stories, and biblical foundation you need as you lead those in your ministry.
7. A Practical Guide to Culture by John Stonestreet & Brett Kunkle
If you are leading in the church today, you need to understand culture. Culture is, perhaps, changing faster than it ever has in history. Certainly, our kids are facing cultural challenges and questions that most of us, as leaders, never have. If that’s the case, how do we lead them well? How do we guide them? This book answers those kind of questions.
What you will learn: how to equip kids to rise above the culture.
8. Designed to Lead by Eric Geiger & Kevin Peck
Developing leaders in the church and, specifically, in your ministry, is the best and only way to really maximize it’s potential. But the church as a whole, and most children’s ministries, do not do a good job of developing leaders. Designed to Lead offers a framework for based on the conviction to develop leaders, developing a culture of leadership development, and providing constructs for practical development of leaders.
What you will learn: a framework for the most important element of your ministry leadership – developing leaders.
9. The Emotionally Healthy Leader by Peter Scazzaro
Going beyond simply offering a quick fix or new technique, The Emotionally Healthy Leader gets to the core, beneath-the-surface issues of uniquely Christian leadership. This book is more than a book you will read; it is a resource you will come back to over and over again.
What you will learn: how to develop a deep, inner life with Christ, examining its profound implications on virtually everything to do with your ministry leadership.
10. Sustainable Children’s Ministry by Mark DeVries & Annette Safstrom
A brand new book (literally just published this week!) which focuses on helping the Children’s Ministry Leader go from last-minute scrambling (we’ve all been there!) to long-term solutions (not all of us have found that sweet spot). This book offers practical, foundational advice for creating ministry designed to last for the long-term.
What you will learn: how to recruit volunteers, partner with parents, navigate politics, and care for your own soul instead of frantically scrambling to do it all yourself.
What book would you add as a “must-read” for Children’s Ministry Leaders?
(please share in the comments below)