LifeWay Pastors’ Featured Resources are recommended by Mark Dance, contributing editor for LifeWay Pastors
Who Moved My Pulpit? Leading Change in the Church by Thom S. Rainer (B&H 2016)
Most of you have read at least one of Dr. Rainer’s other 25 books, so you know that he will shoot straight with you about the challenges of local churches. You won’t be disappointed in these hope-infused ideas which will help you face those challenges head-on.
Based on research from more than 50,000 churches, Dr. Rainer gives you a clear eight-stage roadmap to leading change in your church. It is a short book, but offers no shortcuts to church health. Reading this book is like getting coached up at halftime, especially if you had a tough first half. On behalf of pastors worldwide, I am grateful that we have someone who has committed his life to helping us win.
Planting Missional Churches: Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply by Ed Stetzer and Daniel Im (B&H, 2016)
I wish I had this book when I planted a church 25 years ago! If you are planting a church or thinking about planting, partnering or launching a multi-site campus, this book will be a very useful guide for you. Ed and Daniel are practitioners who write from experience, not theory.
In this second edition of Planting Missional Churches, not only will you find a completely redesigned book with new content in every chapter, but you will also find several new chapters on topics such as church multiplication, residencies, multi-ethnic ministry, multi-site, denominations, networks, and spiritual leadership. Also included is an integration of the research LifeWay recently conducted on church planting (which you can download the State of Church Planting report at newchurches.com/register).
The Pastor’s Family by Brian and Cara Croft (Zondervan, 2013)
I found this book to be extremely practical and personal, which is no surprise because Dr. Croft genuinely loves pastors. Brian and Cara never speak from the vantage point of the other side of the finish line. They run alongside pastors and spouses with words of practical encouragement that make you really believe that you can win both at home and at church.
If I had the authority, I would make every single pastor read this book before starting day one of ministry, marriage, or parenting. Preachers will love how Dr. Croft walks through 1 Timothy 1, Titus 1, Ephesian 5-6, and 1 Peter 3 with us. Brian Croft connects with pastors regularly on practicalshepherding.com.
myWSB (my WORDsearch® Bible)
I only recommend what I like and what I use. I have been using my WordSearch library for years, but have only recently become a regular user of myWSB.com. If you are tired of wasting a bunch of valuable money and memory on a cumbersome library or carrying books from place to place, check this resource out.
This free web app was created to help you read and study the Bible online wherever you go. You can use myWSB to research your Bible studies, seminary homework, sermon creation, or lessons. Once you’ve added a book to your library, not only is it available on myWSB.com, but it will also sync to the WORDsearch® mobile apps. Save your work in either of these places, and you’ll be able to access it no matter what device you happen to be using.
It has been awhile since I read a current book on spiritual disciplines, so I eagerly jumped in on Dr. Nation’s book and was not disappointed. He does a good job of balancing application with exposition. These timeless disciplines deserve to be fleshed out in the world we live in today. I see this as a great resource for mentoring, a Bible Study, or personal growth.
My biggest takeaway was how Philip rooted each discipline in the covenant love of God, thus motivating us beyond the temporary buzz of legalism or the idolatry of egotism. “The greatest discipline is love. All of the other disciplines flow from that love.”
My pulse did not quicken when I saw “Church History” in the title of this book. I approached this as a friend-read with no real intention of recommending or reviewing it. But like Mikey in the old LIFE cereal commercials – “I really liked it!”
Dr. Duesing summarized these seven history-makers in a brief and compelling way. I had either forgotten or never learned most of what I read in this book, so it was a very helpful primer to me. Another reason I enjoyed this book is because Duesing doesn’t try to cover too much in each chapter. He fulfills his promise to summit each person’s contribution to Christianity, without skimming the good parts or skipping over the ugly ones.
These paperback commentaries are very popular among preachers because they are the most practical and affordable commentaries on the market right now. They are expositional, Christ-centered, and written with busy preachers in mind. Each new contribution is a verse by verse exposition of the Bible that points to Jesus Christ. Pastors around the U.S. anticipate each new release because they use it so often in their ministries. Since I am often asked which commentaries are available from this series, you can click here for the latest line-up.
My late friend Leonard Ravenhill introduced me to the writings of his friend A.W. Tozer 35 years ago. He also encouraged me to read E.M. Bounds’ works on prayer. These giants are no longer alive, but their passion for prayer still brings me back to square one spiritually.
Last year I re-read this Tozer classic with a young church planter I am mentoring. Over lunch, we talked about some of the insights we gleaned from the book, which was very rewarding since I had not read it in 30 years. I suggest you add some classics like this to your rotation at least 20% of the time. Many of them are open sourced and free.
This little book is written by a well respected pastor/evangelist whose heart beats furiously for the lost. There is a helpful section in the back for pastors, but any Christian would find this book refreshingly readable. I would recommend your ministry staff read this first, then make it available to members in conjunction with a sermon series and/or church-wide evangelism training.
Since Cory Wilson has already written a thorough review, I simply want to add that this book provides much needed clarity to the political chaos we are experiencing in this election year. Pastors need to know how to graciously converse about politics and principles, instead of awkwardly avoiding them or worse—stampeding through them. This book will help you apply Christian principles to your life and ministry.
Since most readers of LifeWay Pastors are men, you might be wondering why I am reviewing a book written by someone whose audience is primarily women. Because Moore powerfully writes about the most important subject in the Bible—loving God. Jesus made it clear in the Great Commandment that there is nothing more important for us to do in our lives or ministries. Beth fans our spiritual flames with her trademark southern charm and keen biblical insight. I would suggest you read it with your spouse, like I did.
Jesus makes it clear that He wants His Church to pray together. This compilation of devotionals comes from two dozen evangelical leaders like Floyd, Hayford, McDowell, Gaines, Batterson, etc. The book is one small evidence of several powerful prayer movements which are crossing denominational lines in the U.S. and beyond. Use this link to order this book from the Great Commandment Network.
What do pastors and church leaders do now that same-sex marriage is culturally cool? Pastors need tools to help navigate their churches through the cultural chaos, and that is what this brand new book is. Pastors must be prepared to answer these difficult questions about ministering both to couples in same-sex marriages and all the people impacted by those unions.
Jeff Iorg, a seminary president and experienced pastor, has assembled some of the leading voices on a range of topics from children’s ministry to preaching to legal issues in the new marriage culture. Readers will be equipped, perhaps for the first time, with practical answers to some of these complex questions.
Jesus established a disciplship model for us by forming and leading the first discipleship group and it worked. The men who emerged from that group took the Gospel to the world and, ultimately, laid down their lives for Christ.
In Growing Up, my new pastor Robby Gallaty presents a practical, easy-to-implement system for growing in one’s faith. This guide offers a manual for making disciples who make disciples by addressing the what, why, where, and how of discipleship.
Most pastors aspire to lead churches that look like the communities they are in. Pastor Derwin Gray has succeeded where many have failed or, worse, failed to try. This is not an angry rant at monochromatic congregations, rather it is a positive and practical playbook for pastors and leaders who want to build multiethnic churches in a multiethnic world.
I met Derwin this summer for the first time and immediately knew that he lived out the bridge building. Fueled by a Gospel-centric love for the beautifully diverse body of Christ, Gray speaks with a fresh voice about both racial reconciliation and interracial ministry. His ideas are grounded in theology and tested on the front lines of ecclesiology.
The question isn’t whether pastors and leaders struggle with sexual integrity, but how we struggle. Satan hates pastors and sexual temptation is perhaps Satan’s favorite “scheme.” I recently heard Michael Todd Wilson speak at a conference which made me want to learn more from his book. This book, like the man, is full of grace and truth. You will be blessed by his personal transparency, biblical clarity, and hopeful encouragement. If you are looking for the typical platitudes and short-cuts, read another book. If you are looking to finally turn the corner on moral and spiritual integrity – read it with a trusted friend who also wants to stay on the path to sexual integrity.
The Kendrick Brothers’ latest film War Room is the inspiration behind this fantastic book on prayer. You will come out of the theater with a fresh motivation to pray like a warrior, but then what? The book is as practical as the movie is inspirational. The Kendricks lay out scriptural prayer strategies that are within the reach of every Christian.
Steve Graves has a proven track record as a Christian executive coach to some of the nation’s top business executives and ministry leaders. Why would a pastor want to read a book from someone in the business world? Because your leaders want you to connect with them about their lives and careers in the culture they live in between Sundays. Graves has become one of my favorite Christian authors and you will enjoy this new book as much as I have. Flourishing is a breath of fresh air for the busy pastor.
This book could not have come out at a better time for pastors, who have been constantly called on to the front lines of America’s culture war. Dr. Moore navigates us through these turbulent waters by connecting our modern challenges with biblical solutions. This book is a rally cry for the church to advance the kingdom both inside and outside of the church. I am grateful for this gospel centric approach to cultural and social engagement.
I will be honest with you, my boss made me read this book. Although Dr. Rainer didn’t write it, he has exponentially expanded the reach of his ministry by connecting well with his audience – mostly ministry leaders. Your audience may be church members, but are you leveraging your influence with all of the tools at your disposal? Hyatt’s best seller will show you how to connect your unique message and voice with those whom God has called you to serve.
It is evident in his books and blogs that Dr. Rainer loves pastors and churches. You will love this brief nuts and bolts, action-biased book. Dr. Rainer’s practical consultation and personal words of encouragement will challenge both you and your members to become more outwardly focused and inwardly committed. I suggest that you and your staff read it first, then pass it on to your members as a manifesto of what is expected of them in your church.
Church revitalization is hard work. Bill Henard is the kind of equipper who understands this from personal experience and desires to do more than analyze church challenges. This revitalization book achieves a rare balance of biblical scholarship and practical application. Bill reaches back into Scripture to dig deep into the timeless truths about revitalization. But he won’t abandon you there to dig without some usable tools that any pastor can use, first for himself, then for his church.
To be honest, I like the engaging way Barnabas writes. I like how he shoots straight, first with himself, then with the reader. He often asks questions openly that others are afraid to ask without whispering. Barnabas will get into your heart while he gets into your face. Go there with him. It is worth the trip for all of us who struggle with doubt and are not sure what to do about it.
This book will mess you up, preacher! Since God spoke in “various ways” through the prophets, does He speak the same exact way through every text and preacher? If your expository preaching has become boring to you and others, perhaps it is because you have reduced it to a predictable formula. Dr. Smith reminds us of the variety of genres that God intentionally put into His Word, then shows us how to faithfully match the shape of your sermon with the shape of the text.
Exalting Jesus in Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi by Micah Fries, Stephen Rummage, and Robby Gallaty (B&H, 2015)
Word is out and spreading about this new commentary series which is written for preachers, by preachers. Many commentaries seem to be written by academics to academics, which is not very helpful to the pastor who has an oral exam every Sunday morning! I have used these commentaries as sermon aids since they started coming out in 2013 and love them. My favorite so far is this newest one, which includes one of my favorite books – Haggai, written by a friend who epitomizes Haggai’s encouraging message – Micah Fries.
This book was recommended to me by my mentor, which in turn I am reading with several young pastors I am mentoring. Here is a sample: “Hope for sex-and-money sanity is found only in one place: at the foot of the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. Sanity in these two important areas will never be found in trying harder and doing better, because what you need most to defend yourself against doesn’t live outside of you but inside of you.”
I recently recommended this resource to a young new pastor because of its practical, turn-key approach to pastoral ministry.
I am reading this as a devotional supplement. Ronnie is a natural cheerleader for pastors. His voice of encouragement comes through clearly in this new little book.
This is by design “a conversation between a mentor (Dever) and mentee (Gilbert).” This is not your typical philosophy of preaching book, as it aspires to encourage as much as instruct.
God has used this interesting book to help many pastors understand their mental health, including me. Wayne’s journey is both riveting and hopeful at the same time.