16 Books Every Church Leader Should Read On Their Next Sabbatical


Every church leader I know is a voracious reader. In fact, every leader of every kind is always hungry to gain more knowledge and wisdom about leadership, team building, vision casting, personal development, and strategic thinking.

Every day at my job here at Vanderbloemen, I am surrounded by teammates who have years and years of experience leading on church staffs (our team has a combined 190+ years of experience working on church staffs all over the country!) and on a daily basis, our team gets to interact with church leaders in every part of the nation.

I asked these leaders what their top, must-read books were – what books they think every church leader needs to read if they have not already. Here are 16 books every church leader should read on their next sabbatical. 

1. Culture Wins: The Roadmap to an Irresistible Workplace by William Vanderbloemen

After winning several "best place to work" awards, William reverse-engineered our culture at Vanderbloemen and wrote this practical and inspiring guide to help leaders build an irresistible workplace.

2. The Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership by Steve B. Sample 

By the former President of the University of Southern California, The Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership offers unique ideas that go against the current of typical leadership thought.

3. The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller 

This groundbreaking study of Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son will give you renewed insight into God’s grace.

4. Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek

In Leaders Eat Last, leadership guru Simon Sinek writes about how leaders can strengthen and motivate their team by making them feel safe and valued.

5. What Got You Here Won't Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter

Written by one of the most sought-after leadership coaches, this book is one of the most popular leadership development books for executives and contains significant application for church leaders as well.

6. Renovation of the Heart by Dallas Willard

An unflinching look at sin and true spiritual transformation, this book is a practical guide to being an intentional disciple of Jesus.

7. QBQ! The Question behind the Question by John G. Miller

Too many people seek to blame their problems on circumstances or others. This book dives into personal responsibility and ownership in both your work and your personal life.

8. Autopsy of a Deceased Church by Dr. Thom Rainer

Dr. Rainer describes twelve aspects of dying churches and how you can keep yours from following the same path.

9. Teams That Thrive by Ryan T. Hartwig and Warren Bird 

What do the most effective church leadership teams do that make them thrive? Read Bird and Hartwig’s five disciplines that can make your team thrive.

10. Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster

So many church leaders have forgotten the spiritual disciplines of fasting, meditation, and solitude. Rediscover these traditions of the Christian faith that can lead to a deeper spiritual life and renewed joy.

11. Emotionally Healthy Church by Peter Scazzero with Warren Bird

Scazzero shares from his personal experience six principles that help leaders usher their church into deeper spiritual maturity and emotional health.

12. Integrity by Dr. Henry Cloud

With his expertise in clinical psychologist, Dr. Cloud discusses what constitutes integrity and how it is paramount to a leader’s success.

13. Leadership above the Line by Dr. Sarah Sumner

Dr. Sumner introduces a leadership tool called The People Model, which leaders can apply to every area of their life to increase their self-awareness, character, and relationship-strengths.

14. The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni 

This book, all about the importance of organizational health, is a compilation of all Lencioni’s principles from his best-selling “Fables” books: The Five Dysfunctions of a TeamDeath by MeetingThe Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive, etc.

15. Fairness Is Overrated by Tim Stevens

Tim Stevens, former Executive Pastor of Granger Community Church and now Team Leader of Vanderbloemen Search Group's Executive Search Consultant Team, shares 52 leadership principles that will revolutionize your workplace.

16. Next: Pastoral Succession That Works by William Vanderbloemen and Warren Bird

Every pastor is an interim pastor. Next shares numerous case studies and practical takeaways from real life pastoral succession stories to help pastors set themselves and their church up for a lasting legacy.

What books would you add to this list?

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