13 Business/Leadership Books Church Leaders Should Consider

I am frequently asked about what business/leadership books I think are helpful for church leaders to read. I think there are two polar opposites that need to be avoided when believers who lead ministries consider adding “leadership and business books” to their reading diet.

On one extreme, there are people who consider it unspiritual and ludicrous for a church leader to read a leadership book written from a perspective that is not distinctly Christian. After all, what does leading an organization have to do with the sacred body of Christ? Or as Tertullian asked, “What does Athens have to do with Jerusalem?” On the other end of the spectrum are those who read every leadership book possible, insisting that because “all truth is God’s truth,” there are important lessons for the people of God.

While I understand both views, I think it is wise to avoid the extremes. We must heed the caution not to compare the bride of Christ to another organization, but there are some helpful insights to be learned from the secular world. As Jesus said, “sometimes the sons of this age are more astute than the sons of light.” At the same time, we must read with a discerning mind knowing that we are often reading from a view of “the sons of this age.”

With that said, here are thirteen books I think can be helpful to church leaders. I have placed an overarching need the book addresses in parentheses next to the title.

1. Leading Change by John P. Kotter (Change management)
Kotter outlines a process for leading change. It is actually pretty fascinating to see how Kotter’s process lines up with Nehemiah’s leadership.

2. E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber (Reproducing processes)
If a church is considering multiple campuses or other models of reproduction, this book can be helpful.

3. Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz (Self-leadership)
This book focuses on energy management, something ministry leaders could use more of.

4. Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud (Changing personnel)
Though not the entire focus of the book, this is a helpful read for the difficult time of releasing staff or key leaders.

5. Four Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling (Execution)
A very helpful framework for choosing a direction and executing toward that goal.

6. The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande (Systems)
Research-based reasoning to have simple checklists for your key systems (think guest assimilation, new member follow-up, etc.).

7. Leadership Pipeline by Ram Charan, Stephen Drotter, and James Noel (Leadership development)
Helpful insight on developing a leadership pathway/pipeline

8. Your First 90 Days by Michael D. Watkins (Starting a new role)
If moving into a new role, this book helps you evaluate the context you are moving into and approach your leadership accordingly.

9Leadership and the One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard (Staff leadership)
Helpful view of situational leadership, leading each person differently on your team based on his/her level of development for each aspect of his/her role.

10. The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch (Programming focus)
A reminder to eliminate the non-essential so the essential can be better resourced.

11. Talent Is Overrated by Geoffrey Colvin (Leadership development)
A compelling read about how deliberate practice develops people.

12/13. Good to Great & Great by Choice by Jim Collins (Leadership)
These Jim Collins books are filled with great insights on overall leadership.

Are there any others you would say should be considered? What are some of your favorite leadership books?