Pastors' Forum


Most Influential Books

Other than the Bible, what two or three books have influenced your approach to pastoring and leadership the most? Can you share a sentence or two about how each of these books influenced you? What is the key thought you received from each one?


Pastor Alan Clayton – Conroe, TX
Dr Henry Cloud’s book Integrity has been one of the best books I have read dealing with people. Dr Cloud, who is a believer, brings a great perspective of what kind of character causes someone to be successful. We are reading the book again as a leadership team to facilitate discussion and we consider it a classic for our church.

Bill Hybels has a great deal of grace regarding leadership. His book Courageous Leadership was instrumental in helping me define a better pattern for hiring and his insight into leadership situations is extremely helpful. He also wrote a book called Axiom which is also a great leadership read especially to discuss with staff/ leaders.

Pastor Sam Smucker – Lancaster, PA
Hand Me Another Brick by Charles Swindoll, talks about how to resolve personality conflicts and strained relationships. I have taken my leadership through this book several times. I enjoy the practical advice in this book.

The Way of the Shepherd by Dr. Kevin Leman & William Pentak, is a book about heart issues, character & priorities. This book helps people see that what they do is a calling from God.

The Power of Vision by George Barna. This book helps a person to understand their vision and how to apply God’s vision for your ministry.

Pastor Al Jennings – Fort Wayne, IN
I would have to say that these two books have a made huge impact on my approach to pastoring:

The E-Myth by Michael Gerber
This book helped me to develop a system approach to ministry instead of depending on talented people. Just because you know the technical work of a business, doesn’t mean you understand the business of the technical work.
Key thought: You can’t manage people, but you can manage a system.

Simple Church by Thom S. Rainer and Eric Geiger
This book helped me to reevaluate our Church in terms of cutting out the non-essential things that we were doing and focus on the essential things that God called us to do. It helped me to make the vision plain enough that our congregation could easily describe it to others.

Key thought: Focusing on a few things (rather than on many), helps us to be more effective and won’t wear out our team.

Pastor Dave Williams – Lansing, MI
The Making of a Leader by Ralph Mahoney

This book, published by MAPS, inspired me to honor my leaders, keep from covetousness, and go after God with a clean heart. Mahoney founded World MAP and has been a significant figure in the Charismatic missions scene in the 70’s and 80’s. With Judson Cornwall, he contributed significantly in Australia to the growth of Faith Centre, and he gives many ministry illustrations in this book. Mahoney later wrote Alan Langstaff’s story in his book, Is there a New Wave of Revival Coming?

Spiritual Leadership: Principles of Excellence for Every Believer by J. Oswald Sanders
This book showed me how to be guided by God and genuinely devoted to Christ and to never give up. It warned me about the spiritual and doctrinal deception in much of today’s leadership. Spiritual Leadership encouraged me to aim at becoming the kind of leader that can be used for His glory.

How to Make a Habit of Succeeding (Motivational series) by Mack R. Douglas
This is not a Christian book, per say. I had never heard any teaching about the value of goals, persistence, purpose, vision, organization and time management. This book helped me to organize my ministry and to get the vision on paper. It’s a book, I believe, every Christian leader should read. My copy (from the 1970’s) is ragged and unbound now because I’ve referred to it so often over the years. Mack gives practical and inspirational illustrations for each principle he shares.

Pastor Doug Foutty – Parkersburg, WV
The Authority of the Believer by Kenneth E. Hagin, is definitely one book that has helped me. Just renewing my mind to the fact that authority was given to us in the name of Jesus is comforting. The fact that it was God’s idea to give us the authority and that we need to be a doer of the Word in this area is always the challenge. We can get busy trying to play a chess match with the enemy instead of using our authority. We will lose the chess match because we are trying to reason things out. When we use our faith and use our authority, then and only then, victory is ours.

This isn’t a book, but the DVD by Tony Cooke, A Table For Two, A Table For All, is something that I return to to renew my mind to the ordinance of communion. I have been helped personally and I have helped many other people understand the message that Jesus was trying to get across through remembering the benefits of the blood and body of the Lord.

Pastor Walker Schurz – Lusaka, Zambia
Good to Great by Jim Collins

An empirical assessment about how companies make the change from good to great and sustain the new path over 20+ years and through leadership transition. Many of its findings have biblical parallels and the wisdom in this book has helped us make some fruitful ministry decisions.

Love, Acceptance and Forgiveness by Jerry Cook and Stanley C. Baldwin
This Foursquare pastor was accused of being a “garbage collector” by another local pastor after their church reached out to so many broken and troubled people. The book gives great theology and personal stories about why local churches should reach wounded and hurting people and help restore them to wholeness.

Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership by Gary McIntosh & Samuel Rima
The authors show through history and biblical examples how that many times what drives a leader to success is not a godly, Holy Spirit inspired vision, but a personal dysfunction or insecurity. While the success seems real, the legacy is not. It has been a good tool for me with the assistance of others and the Holy Spirit to identify personal dysfunctions in my leadership.

Courageous Leadership by Bill Hybels
If you will only read one book from this list, read this one. It truly helps define the role of senior pastor and also his personal development. The author’s passion for a healthy, life-giving local church is contagious and inspiring.

He Gave Gifts Unto Men by Kenneth Hagin
The section on the biblical duties of a pastor is so refreshing. It showed me from God’s Word what He expects from shepherds and to be content in this wonderful role and calling. The book also gives great clarity on how the ministry gift of the pastor should relate to other callings.

Pastor Stan Saunders – Chillicothe, MO
Here are some books that have influenced my pastoral philosophy that I have read in the past few years.

ReJesus: A Wild Messiah for a Missional Church by Michael Frost & Alan Hirsch, attempts to recalibrate the mission of the church around the person and work of Jesus. It is about ‘reJesusing’ the church.

The Next Christians-How a New Generation is Restoring the Faith by Gabe Lyons, exposes a movement of Christians from all expressions who desire to be a force for restoration even as they proclaim the Gospel. They want to label “Christian” to mean something good, intelligent, authentic, and beautiful.

Starving Jesus-Off the Pew, Into the World by Craig Gross & J. R. Mahon, asks the questions, “Why is Sunday the only time we see Christians?” “Why are we stuck in the pews?” “Are you born again lazy?” Ask someone today if he or she likes Jesus, and the answer is usually yes. But ask if that person likes the church, and chances are you will get a far less favorable response.

In They Like Jesus But Not the Church-Insights From Emerging Generations, Dan Kimball helps pastors and church leaders understand how people outside the church think about church and what they wish church was like.

Pastor Brad Allen – San Mateo, CA
Great question, Bro. Cooke! Here are my 5 most influential books.

The Believer’s Authority by Kenneth E. Hagin
My wife and I make sure that we read this book at least once every year.

How To Write Your Own Ticket With God by Kenneth E. Hagin
This is THE book to read and re-read when you need encouragement.

Nine O’Clock In The Morning by Dennis J. Bennett and John Sherrill
This is the book that helped me when I was an Episcopalian and became Spirit-filled. It changed my life. Might not be the book for everyone, but it said the right things at the right time to me.

Ignite by Nelson Searcy
Pastor Searcy is the former associate pastor from Saddleback Church who started The Journey Church in New York City in 2002. By 2009 he had 1200 members. He lays out a very workable plan for church growth.

Getting A Grip On The Basics by Beth Jones
We try to have every new member of the church go through this book. We’re also using it in small chunks in our youth group.

Pastor Phil Edwards – Ennice, NC
The books where I learned the most are books by Kenneth E. Hagin, E.W. Kenyon, Dr. James Richards, Richard Booker, and Pastor Creflo Dollar.

Pastor Timothy Kutz – Bartlesville, OK
I read Sheep, Goats And Wolves by Mark Barclay, when I was a young pastor and dealing with people problems in my church. The book gave me a good perspective on the three different types of people that you will have in any church and how to deal with them.

Rick Renner’s Sparkling Gems From the Greek is a must-have for all pastor’s libraries. It is not a book on leadership but gives fresh insight to so many parts of the New Testament. It is a good devotional for anyone and gives those teaching the Word a plethora of meditation material.

The Art of Pacesetting Leadership is a great book by Dave Williams. It breaks leadership into bite sizes and is a complete manual on leadership in terms that are easy to understand and easy to impart.

Pastor Thom Fields – Kennewick, WA
One of the greatest impacts on my life as a leader came from John Maxwell’s book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. In this comprehensive listing of leadership laws, Maxwell brings to the forefront of our minds principles that seem to find a way of slipping off into the back, unnoticed and easily forgotten (at least by me). Remembering these principles, and attempting to practice them to the point that they become habitual, has empowered me to move my leadership ability from one who is a performer of tasks to one who is a ‘developer of people.’ I must say, I have to go back and rehearse those laws frequently, but this book has been a great blessing to me as a pastor.

Another great book that has impacted our ministry in a tremendous manner is, oddly enough, authored by Tony Cooke. His book, In Search of Timothy, has revolutionized our entire ministry team at The Garden. In no way, shape, or form am I attempting to patronize Pastor Cooke, but the tools offered between the covers of this book are of insane value to me. Not only has this information equipped my team to better serve me as their pastor, it has empowered me to develop and lead at a much greater level. Our team found our core values through studying this book together. We are now committed to agreeing with each other, loving one another, and becoming deep spirited friends.

Pastor Marvin Yoder – Mattoon, IL
Several books that have influenced my approach to pastoring and leadership, other than the Bible are as follows:

Understanding the Anointing by Bro. Kenneth Hagin (Faith Library)
This book goes into detail on the different callings and anointings that God has placed within the Body of Christ, especially the five-fold ministry. Bro. Hagin identifies some of the characteristics of these anointings so that a person can understand the call of God on their own life. This book helped me to understand myself better, and helped me to gain confidence in who God called me to be, and not compare myself with everyone else.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All by Gary L. McIntosh (Revell, division of Baker Book House Co.)
This book is written as a dialogue between a small church pastor and a large church pastor, and identifies the differences in congregations of various sizes. It reveals that not all church needs, structures, and orientations are the same, and therefore the pastor may have to adjust his approach to the existing dynamics in his congregation. This book helped me to understand existing church congregation dynamics, and that it is okay if my church is different than those that my fellow pastors have.

Ministry Momentum by Wayne Schmidt (Wesleyan Publishing House)
This book gives practical lessons from the book of Joshua, showing how Joshua got spiritual momentum, kept it, and used it effectively to get the Israelites into the Promised Land. Every minister should know the value of spiritual momentum, when they have it, and when they don’t. This book helped me to understand how to keep the congregation moving in the right direction and fulfill the vision that God has given to us as a church.

Fusion by Nelson Searcy (Regal, from Gospel Light )
This book identifies the challenges and process of assimilating first-time visitors into your congregation, and helping them become vital, productive members. Assimilating people into your congregation is not just a sovereign act of God or a one-time effort on the part of the church, but a process of identifying and helping visitors take steps to feel at home and that becoming a part of the church is valuable to them. This book helped me to understand the fears and challenges that visitors may have when they dare to come to our church, and how to overcome those fears and help them have a pleasant and fruitful experience at our church.

I keep these books within reach, as well as several others, and periodically go back to glean the truths in these books and freshen my perspective so that I stay on track for fruitful ministry. God bless!

Rev. Tony Cooke – Broken Arrow, OK
Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald is an absolute classic on Christian leadership. It goes to the very core of leadership: the heart of the leader.

John Maxwell’s book, The Twenty-One Irrefutable Laws of Leadership is also outstanding and communicates vital insights that are essential for successful leadership.

Finally, I echo Pastor Dave Williams’ endorsement of Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders. It is another classic that communicates the core values of godly leadership.