Resources congregations and their leaders

Resources for Congregational Leaders

Recommended resources for congregational leaders

Over the years I’ve done a number of workshops and usually hand out bibliographies offering suggested books. Here are a few of those resources from those lists. I hope you find them useful in your ministry.


Generation to Generation Family Process in Church and Synagogue – Edwin H. Friedman

Someone once tried to borrow this book from me and I wouldn’t let them have it. Over the years I’ve referred to it and quoted it again and again. It’s a real standard for those seeking to understand how emotional process affects congregational life.

Our Community: Dealing with Conflict in Our Congregation – Susan M. Lang

So, it’s my book and of course I’m going to recommend it! It’s written from my belief that conflict in not a dirty word but can even be a very creative and powerful force when handled well. It compares unhealthy and healthy communications and conflict.  It will give you additional leadership tools for your congregational toolbox.

The Little Book of Conflict Transformation – John Paul Lederach

Don’t let the size of this book fool you. It’s a structured look at conflict transformation as opposed to conflict resolution or management. I’ve suggested this in workshops I’ve led and later heard from participants how much they liked it, too.

Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times: Being Calm and Courageous No Matter What by Peter Steinke

Anything I’ve ever read by Pete Steinke has been a helpful resource. This one is another systems approach look at the effects of anxiety and self-differentiation in leadership.

Congregational Resources

How to Mind Map® the ultimate thinking tool that will change your life – Tony Buzan

I’m a big fan of mind mapping to bring out creative thoughts and for ministry planning. About 85% of us are visual learners so this is a tool many can get excited about utilizing. Try it and you might be hooked!

Discovering Your Church’s Future Through Dynamic Dialogue – Dave Fleming

This short book gives methods and direction for engaging your congregation in dynamic, creative conversations.

“Moving From Leadership 1.0 to 2.0, –  Susan M. Lang,  Congregations,  (Volume 40, Issues 3 & 4, 2013), Alban Institute.

This article invites congregational leaders to consider a different leadership style for the 21st century.

The Spiritual Leader’s Guide to Self-Care – Rochelle Melander

I’ve got firsthand experience utilizing this book with my ELCA Board of Pensions A Journey of Renewal coaching clients and have seen the transformation that can occur in leaders by utilizing even a few of its exercises. Consider giving this to new congregational leaders to support them in their ministry.

Growing Together: Spiritual Exercises for Church Committees – Rochelle Melander and Harold Eppley

If you’re looking for opening devotions with substance for small groups this book is a must-have. It contains fifty devotions utilizing the small group process.

Failing Forward: How to Make the Most of Your Mistakes – John C. Maxwell,   also abridged in audiobook format

Maxwell reframes “failure” to show how it can teach us valuable life lessons. He says the difference between people who achieve and those who are average is their perception of failure. You can learn and grow through any experience in life.

 If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get out of the Boat. By John Ortberg  also in abridged in audiobook format

I had the audio version of this on my iPod and it was fun to listen to. It addresses the struggle between faith and fear and is an excellent book to prompt discussion among church leaders. Or, get the audio version and listen to it as part of your opening devotions or study together.

The Power of Asset Mapping: How Your Congregation Can Act on Its Gifts – Luther Snow

I’m always amazed by the fact that many congregations have a deficit-thinking mindset. This book is a great introduction to asset-based thinking.

Becoming a Blessed Church: Forming a Church of Spiritual Purpose, Presence, and Power– N. Graham Standish

I read this book in 2007 and it inspired me to focus an issue of The RevWriter Resource on nurturing spiritual leaders. In my view and in Standish’s, every leader is a spiritual leader and needs to tend to his or her relationship with God first. Leaders also need to make sure that corporately their leadership is one that discerns God’s presence and purpose in their midst. The book also offers a variety of tools including four principles of discernment. I’d suggest reading it together as a leadership team.


Net Work: A Practical Guide to Creating and Sustaining Networks at Work and in the World—Patti Anklam

When people ask me what books I’d suggest reading on social networks this one is definitely on the top of my list. I have been involved in weaving and nurturing a variety of networks and have found the tools in this book to be extremely useful.  No matter where you are in network development this book has questions to guide your reflection and help build those important relationships.

Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives – Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler

The stories in this book clearly show that you’re more influenced by your networks than you think. Read it to learn more about their Three Degrees of Influence Rule, which I’ve quoted on numerous occasions with groups with whom I’ve worked. This is definitely a very readable book on social networks.

Network Weaver Handbook: A Guide to Transformational Networks by June Holley