Top 10 Resources for Pastors & Church Planters

I was recently asked by a pastor friend to recommend my top 10 most influential resources for pastors, church planters, or those aspiring to high-level ministry leadership.

He wasn’t looking for explicitly theological resources as much as tools that explore ministry design, pastoral leadership, and developing a disciple-making ministry. While a number of these resources flow out of rich theological reflection, they aren’t the kind of tools most pastors would get from seminary. Thus, I’m making the (somewhat dangerous) assumption that a pastor is grounded in the gospel, the Scriptures, and a robust theological understanding.

So, with that caveat, here’s what I would recommend (in no particular order):

The Trellis and the Vine - Kindle edition by Marshall, Colin, Payne, Tony.  Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @ Trellis and The Vine (Collin Marshall & Tony Payne) – Beautiful vision for equipping and multiplying ministry through making disciples and training people. Chapters 2-3 are on a short list of must-read resources for all our new staff.

Move: What 1, 000 Churches Reveal about Spiritual Growth: Hawkins, Greg L.,  Parkinson, Cally, Bill Hybels: 9780310529941: Books

Move: What 1,000 Churches Reveal About Spiritual Growth (Greg Hawkins & Cally Parkinson) – I’ve never talked to another pastor who read this book, but it’s one of the best I’ve read in the last few years. It explores how people actually grow in their faith. You can read my lessons from it here.

Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism (Tim Keller) – Keller has greatly influenced my approach to preaching, even though his context and personality are so different from mine. Tons to be learned here.

The Heart of a Servant Leader: Letters from Jack Miller: C. John Miller,  Barbara Miller Juliani: 9780875527154: Books

The Heart of a Servant Leader: Letters from Jack Miller (C. John Miller) – Collection of letters from a mature, wise, prayerful pastor. So much is modeled through these letters, especially about prayer, family, love for non-Christians, courage to confront tough issues, and how the gospel actually changes you.

Leadership Axioms: Powerful Leadership Proverbs: Hybels, Bill, Henry Cloud,  PhD: 0025986495961: Books

Leadership Axioms: Powerful Leadership Proverbs (Bill Hybels) – Short, practical, wise nuggets from one of the sharpest leaders in modern church history (despite his recent downfall). Each chapter is only a few pages, which makes it easy to read and easy to remember. I guess that’s the point of an axiom, eh?

Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City -  Kindle edition by Keller, Timothy. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @ Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City (Tim Keller) – One of the highlights of this past year was working through this book with a cohort of pastors from across the country, guided by the staff of Redeemer City to City. It’s most of Keller’s thinking on gospel, culture, theological vision, and evangelism all in one place. The Advantage, Enhanced Edition: Why Organizational Health  Trumps Everything Else In Business (J-B Lencioni Series) eBook: Lencioni,  Patrick M.: Kindle StoreThe Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything in Business (Patrick Lencioni) – Most of Lencioni’s books are short fables designed to teach crucial lessons in organizational life. The Advantage is his non-fiction magnum opus, an all-in-one book on the importance of organizational culture.

Breathing Room • Part 4┃"Choosing to Cheat" - YouTube

Choosing to Cheat sermon by Andy Stanley) – This a game changer for prioritizing family and keeping things in perspective. In fact, when I heard Stanley present this content at a leadership conference, he said it was “the most important leadership decision he ever made.” What was it? Choosing not to cheat his family in the name of ministry.

What's Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done:  Perman, Matt, John Piper: 9780310533986: Books

What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done (Matt Perman) – I’ve read many books on productivity and time management. This one contains all the best-of thinking found in those other books, yet comes from a gospel-centered perspective. Here’s my review of it. Innovating Discipleship: Four Paths to Real Discipleship  Results (Church Unique Intentional Leader Series) (Volume 1)  (9781491039670): Mancini, Will: Books

Innovating Discipleship: Four Paths to Real Discipleship Results (Will Mancini) – I read everything I can by Will Mancini and love the way he thinks. This is a little known read-in-one-sitting book that helps leaders identify their approach and strategy for disciple-making. I desperately wish I had read it before planting a church.

BONUS #1: Logos Bible Software. I honestly can’t imagine sermon prep without it. It’s saved me hours and hours and has allowed me to go further into studying for sermons than I could ever do without it.

BONUS #2: The Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast – every episode is interesting, helpful, and chock-full of thought-provoking ideas (See other podcasts I recommend here).

What would you add?

Published by Luke Simmons

I was born and raised in Denver, CO and lived there through high school. Then I moved to Champaign, IL where I attended the University of Illinois and played on the Fighting Illini baseball team. I was married in December, 2001 to Molly, who I met at the U of I. In June of 2002, we moved to Phoenix and have been here ever since.

2 thoughts on “Top 10 Resources for Pastors & Church Planters

  1. Luke, I am not a pastor yet I recently read a book that I just can’t stop thinking about. It is written to pastors and others in leadership. Both subject matter and delivery are amazing.
    Sensing Jesus – by Zach Eswine

    1. Barbara, I’ve read that book. It’s excellent. Thanks for sharing. “Jonathan Edwards farted.” Ha!

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