12 Books Every Pastor Should Read in 2017

I love to read, so it’s not uncommon for me to finish 3 books each month.

I mostly read nonfiction, with an occasional dip into a fiction novel, but over the years I have collected a mental list of the books I wish every pastor would read. Why not read them in 2017?

I’ve recommended 12 books, 1 per month, some old and some newer, along with a link to amazon to purchase the book. If one of these titles or descriptions get’s your attention buy the book and get started as soon as it gets shipped to you. The more you read the more you will want to read. Readers are leaders.

Here are 12 books every pastor should read in 2017.

1. Sticky Teams: Keeping Your Leadership Team on The Same Page

Larry Osborne alternates writing Christian living and leadership books, and his latest leadership book, Sticky Teams is great! With over 30 years of experience, he shares his wisdom about building great church leadership teams, staff, and elders/deacons, as well as how to avoid potential land mines. Our team went through this book together, and I would recommend the same for you.

2. Don’t Rock The Boat Capsize It: Loving the Church Too Much To Leave It The Way It Is

My dad gave me this book over 10 years ago, and it has remained one of my favorites. Rick Bundschuh shares stories and insights from his experience leading Kauai Christian Fellowship and uses a clever writing style and humor to make his points. This is one of those books you can read at your own pace because each chapter’s wisdom stands on its own. I love Bundschuh’s writing style, and you will too.

3. Deep and Wide: Creating Church Unchurched People Love To Attend

I almost didn’t include this on the list because I just assumed every church leader had read Andy Stanley’s latest book. If you haven’t, what are you waiting on? This is Stanley’s best book by far, the one we’ve all been waiting for him to write. He shares personal stories and his personal ministry philosophy from his time leading Northpoint Community Church. EVERY CHURCH LEADER NEEDS TO READ THIS BOOK!

4. Relaunch: How to Stage an Organizational Comeback

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this book. I love to hear Dr. Mark Rutland speak, so I expected it to be a great read, but it exceeded my expectations. It’s so practical it reads like a manual for how to turn around a struggling church. If you lead a church or ministry that has been stuck or in decline, you need to read this book with as many people in your organization as possible.

5. Up the Middle Church: Playing the Game of Ministry One Yard at A Time

Matt Kellar is brilliant which is one of the reasons he has grown Next Level Church from a startup to over 4,000 attendees each week. This was his first book, a life ministry manifesto of sorts, and it is filled with practical “how to” tips and ideas. Kellar teaches that great churches are built day in and day out through consistency and excellence, and he gives lots of examples from his journey at Next Level. I’ve given out at least 10 copies of this book over the years. It’s a must read, especially for the young church leader, but everyone will enjoy it.


6. Essentialism: The Disciplines Pursuit of Less

This is a business book that has been raved about all year. I picked it up after hearing what seemed like everyone I know recommend it, and they were right, it is great. The thesis of the book is we are all involved in too much, and if we would focus our time and energy on only a few things that output maximum results we would see an exponential growth in our personal and professional life. This book is not for the faint of heart, because it will force you to “pull the plug” on so many areas of life that are not essential.

7. Emyth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What To Do About it

Another business book, this may be the single most effective book I’ve ever read at explaining how to be a “leader” and not a “doer.” If you are like most pastors you run yourself ragged trying to get all the jobs done that need to be accomplished, but what if it was possible to lead the organization without having to do all the tasks of the organization. Spoiler alert: it is possible, and this book shows you how. It’s not the easiest read in the world, but it’s worth the time you will invest. Trust me.

8. Built To Sell: Creating A Business That Can Thrive Without You

Built To Sell is a newer, smaller version of similar material covered in Emyth Revisited. It’s a business book that explains how to remove yourself from all the tasks that have to be accomplished and allow yourself to be the leader of the business/organization. If you are constantly overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done, please read this book. It will be a “lightbulb moment” for you and your church.

9. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful

WGYHWGYT was probably the most important book I read in 2016; it should be required reading for all leaders, especially young leaders. Goldsmith believes, and backs up with data, that leaders have flaws that at some point become a ceiling for their growth and success, but because up until that point their personality type, attitude, and skills have helped them achieve success, they struggle to believe their perceived strength is actually a flaw. This book will force you to look in the mirror and examine your strengths and weaknesses. I highly recommend.

10. Saying It Well: Touching Others with Your Words

This is an older book by Swindoll, but I picked it up this year during a season of trying to reinvent my speaking style. It is simple and straightforward providing tips from one of the all-time great preachers ever to live. If you feel like you have prefect preaching don’t read this book, otherwise, pick up a copy today.

11. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action

You have probably seen a TED talk video clip floating around the internet with a guy drawing 3 circles on a dry erase board; that’s Simon Sinek. He is the guru for helping you understand “why” your organization does what it does. Using data and examples from some of the world’s most successful organizations, this book helps you clarify your personal and churches mission and purpose.

12. The Measure of Our Success: An Impassioned Plea To Pastors

Speaking of “why” we do what we do, I cannot recommend a book more highly to pastors and church leaders than Shawn Lovejoy’s The Measure of Our Success. His message comes straight the heart, and it challenges all church leaders to reexamine their motives and definition of success. You will be convicted and challenged. YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK NOW!

Bonus Book- Toxic Soul: A Pastor’s Guide To Leading Without Losing Heart

Toxic Soul is a book written to encourage discouraged pastors and church leaders. If you’ve ever felt like you weren’t making progress, like you’re under resourced, or struggle to stay positive about what God is doing in your ministry, you need to check out Toxic Soul.

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Jason Isaacs
Jason Isaacs

By Jason Isaacs