About the ‘Great Books’ List

Each year for the XP-Seminar, we cull the book world for great books on personal enrichment, management and leadership. There are …

Classics—never forget about the great ones!
Business books—our friends in the business world have lessons to teach us.
Christian books—national thought leaders writing on vital topics.

All are offered at the XP-Seminar Free Book Table.  So that we won’t force you to pay for extra weight in your luggage, we limit each person to two free books, sometimes more!

Enjoy the list. See if there is something here that will help you grow to the next level!

Great Books 2019!

Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World

Andy Stanley

Once upon a time there was a version of our faith that was practically . . . irresistible. But that was then. Today we preach, teach, write, and communicate as if nothing has changed.  As if “The Bible says it,” still settles it.

It’s time to hit pause on much of what we’re doing and consider the faith modeled by our first-century brothers and sisters who had no official Bible, no status, and humanly speaking, little chance of survival.

What did they know that we don’t? What made their faith so compelling, so defensible, so irresistible?

Buckle up … you’re about to find out. More importantly, Andy will invite you to embrace the version of faith that, against all odds, initiated a chain of events resulting in the most significant and extensive cultural transformation the world has ever seen. A version we must embrace if we are to be salt and light in an increasingly savorless and dark world.   ~Amazon

Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.

Brené Brown

Leadership is not about titles, status, and wielding power. A leader is anyone who takes responsibility for recognizing the potential in people and ideas, and has the courage to develop that potential.

When we dare to lead, we don’t pretend to have the right answers; we stay curious and ask the right questions. We don’t see power as finite and hoard it; we know that power becomes infinite when we share it with others. We don’t avoid difficult conversations and situations; we lean into vulnerability when it’s necessary to do good work.

But daring leadership in a culture defined by scarcity, fear, and uncertainty requires skill-building around traits that are deeply and uniquely human. The irony is that we’re choosing not to invest in developing the hearts and minds of leaders at the exact same time as we’re scrambling to figure out what we have to offer that machines and AI can’t do better and faster. What can we do better? Empathy, connection, and courage, to start.

Four-time #1 New York Times bestselling author Brené Brown has spent the past two decades studying the emotions and experiences that give meaning to our lives, and the past seven years working with transformative leaders and teams spanning the globe. She found that leaders in organizations ranging from small entrepreneurial startups and family-owned businesses to nonprofits, civic organizations, and Fortune 50 companies all ask the same question:  How do you cultivate braver, more daring leaders, and how do you embed the value of courage in your culture?  ~Amazon

Didn’t See It Coming

Carey Nieuwhof

An influential pastor, podcaster, and thought leader believes it’s not only possible to predict life’s hardest moments, but also to alter outcomes, overcome challenges, and defeat your fiercest adversaries.

Founding Pastor of one of North America’s most influential churches, Carey Nieuwhof wants to help you avoid and overcome life’s seven hardest and most crippling challenges: cynicism, compromise, disconnectedness, irrelevance, pride, burnout, and emptiness. These are challenges that few of us expect but that we all experience at some point. If you have yet to confront these obstacles, Carey provides clear tools and guidelines for anticipation and avoidance. On the other hand, if you already feel stuck in a painful experience or are wrestling with one of these challenges, he provides the steps you need to find a way out and a way forward into a more powerful and vibrant future.  ~Amazon

How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge: Leveraging Influence When You Lack Authority

Clay Scroggins

Are you letting your lack of authority paralyze you? One of the greatest myths of leadership is that you must be in charge in order to lead. Great leaders don’t buy it. Great leaders lead with or without the authority and learn to unleash their influence wherever they are.

With practical wisdom and humor, Clay Scroggins will help you nurture your vision and cultivate influence, even when you lack authority in your organization. And he will free you to become the great leader you want to be so you can make a difference right where you are. Even when you’re not in charge.  ~Amazon

No Silver Bullets: Five Small Shifts that will Transform Your Ministry

Daniel Im

What if I told you that you were only one step away from unlocking new levels of maturity and growth in your church? The myth of the silver bullet still exists because we desperately want it to. We all prefer quick fixes and bandage solutions to the long, hard, slow work that produces real change. So the moment we learn about a new ministry or strategy and see its effect in another church, we run to implement it in our own. Unfortunately, this impulse is usually met by opposition, skepticism, and ultimately, rejection.

What if the solution isn’t a new model or a complicated strategy, but a shift in perspective? What if you could keep your church’s current vision, values, and model, and simply make a few micro-shifts … leading to macro-changes?

This book explores five micro-shifts that have the potential to produce macro-changes in your church. As you read, you will discover how to integrate these micro-shifts into the life of your church, starting with the way you disciple. You will finish by developing a plan to structure, communicate, and evaluate these changes to ensure that they take root and pave the way for lasting change and kingdom impact.   ~Amazon

Hero Maker: Five Essential Practices for Leaders to Multiply Leaders

Dave Ferguson and Warren Bird

Everybody wants to be a hero, but few understand the power of being a hero maker.

In Hero Maker you will learn how to bring real change to your church and community by developing the practical skills to help others reach their leadership potential. Drawing on five powerful practices found in the ministry of Jesus, Hero Maker presents the key steps of apprenticeship that will build up other leaders and provides strategies for how you can activate gifts, help others take ownership, and develop a simple scorecard for measuring your kingdom-building progress.

Besides rich insights from the Gospels, Hero Maker is packed with real-life ministry stories ranging from paid staff to volunteer leaders and from established churches to new church plants. A practical tool accompanies each of the five practices, with several illustrations for how to use it.

Whether you lead ten people or ten thousand, Hero Maker will not only help you maximize your leadership, but in doing so you will also help shift today’s church culture to a model of reproduction and multiplication. Authors Dave Ferguson (a Chicago pastor and church planter) and Warren Bird (an award-winning writer) make a compelling case that God’s power and purpose are best revealed when we train and release others, who in turn do likewise. Become that rare breed of leader who brings change into our world by sacrificially investing in others who become the heroes. By becoming a hero maker, you will join a movement of influencers that are impacting hundreds, thousands and perhaps millions of people around the world.  ~Amazon

Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message so Customers Will Listen

Donald Miller

New York Times bestselling author Donald Miller uses the seven universal elements of powerful stories to teach readers how to dramatically improve how they connect with customers and grow their businesses.

Donald Miller’s StoryBrand process is a proven solution to the struggle business leaders face when talking about their businesses. This revolutionary method for connecting with customers provides readers with the ultimate competitive advantage, revealing the secret for helping their customers understand the compelling benefits of using their products, ideas, or services.

Building a StoryBrand does this by teaching readers the seven universal story points all humans respond to; the real reason customers make purchases; how to simplify a brand message so people understand it; and how to create the most effective messaging for websites, brochures, and social media. Whether you are the marketing director of a multibillion dollar company, the owner of a small business, a politician running for office, or the lead singer of a rock band, Building a StoryBrand will forever transform the way you talk about who you are, what you do, and the unique value you bring to your customers.   ~Amazon

Developing Female Leaders: Navigate the Minefields and Release the Potential of Women in Your Church

Kadi Cole

How to More Effectively Leverage the Leadership Gifts and Abilities of Women in Your Church

What would your church look like in the future if it were to maximize the dormant gifts of the women God has brought there? In Developing Female Leaders, Kadi Cole, twenty-year veteran in leadership and people development, offers a practical strategy to help church and organizational leaders craft cultures that facilitate the development of women as volunteer and staff leaders.

Using interviews and surveys of more than one thousand women in key church and organizational roles, combined with current research, the author has created eight easy-to-implement “best practices” that help accelerate a woman’s organizational contribution.

Thorough appendices and references add even more guidance for setting vision, milestones, and goals. Developing Female Leaders is a one-of-a-kind resource for identifying what is missing today in your church to help it flourish in the future.   ~Amazon

High Impact Teams: Where Healthy Meets High Performance

Lance Witt

No matter how big an organization, we all do ministry with a team, whether paid or volunteer. Anyone who has been part of a great team knows it’s something special. When there is good chemistry, everyone is operating from their sweet spot, the objectives are clear, and kingdom progress is being made, it is incredibly fulfilling and fun.

On the flip side, we’re painfully aware what happens when there is dysfunction in the team—stress, tension, politics, and posturing. It’s not much fun for anyone, and we end up squandering our divine assignment.

Lance Witt, founder of Replenish ministries and a former executive and teaching pastor at Saddleback Church, knows what it takes to keep teams functioning at the highest level of impact. He shows leaders how to build next-level teams that are spiritually, emotionally, and relationally healthy and productive and high-performing. Short, to-the-point chapters make the book easy to digest and the perfect resource for your team to read through together.  ~Amazon

God Over Good

Luke Norsworthy

It’s hard to say that God is good when God isn’t always what we expect good to be. A good father wouldn’t make it so difficult to get to know him, would he? And if God is all-powerful, wouldn’t he ensure that we never suffered? Either our understanding of God is incorrect, or our definition of good is inadequate.

In a world that is messy and a church that is imperfect, it’s easy to let our faith be lost. But that doesn’t mean we have to lose God. It means we must consider the fact that perhaps our idealized expectations are just plain wrong. With transparency about his own struggles with cynicism and doubt, pastor Luke Norsworthy helps frustrated Christians and skeptics trade their confinement of God in an anemic definition of good for confidence in the God who is present in everything, including our suffering.   ~Amazon

Empowering Leadership: How a Leadership Development Center Builds Better Leaders Faster

Michael Fletcher

A major problem in the local church today is lack of leadership. Simply put, we have more needs than we have leaders to meet those needs. So, how do we train better leaders faster?

The truth is, very few churches really have a well-thought-out leadership development plan. Growth requires continually adding healthy new leaders, who carry the church culture forward and embody its core values. Everyone knows it, but how do we achieve it?

In Empowering Leadership author and leadership consultant Michael Fletcher says leaders like this can’t simply be bought, nor can they be hired from someone else’s leadership assembly line. Developing leaders at every level, to create an environment that attracts potential leaders, and to build better leaders faster, an organization needs more than a pipeline. It needs a culture that develops leaders organically.

Finding the right kind of leaders to guide your church on a path of continual growth comes out of keeping the right focus, and that focus is not just on the leaders. In fact, as Fletcher says,

It isn’t about the leader. It never was about the leader. It will never be about the leader. It will always and only be about Jesus and his people.

It’s about the people. True leadership development includes the often messy, but necessary, interaction of life upon life. So hiring pastors and key staff roles from within the church is the very best policy—people who “breathe” the culture of the church and who have helped create the culture you want to maintain.

If your church or organization needs a good leadership development structure, then you’re holding the right book. Empowering Leadership details Michael’s greatest insights on how to build better leaders faster by creating a leadership development culture in your church or organization—naturally, organically, continually. Empower your church or organization through great leadership.  ~Amazon

Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church

Rich Birch

Are you ready to see your church impact more people than you have ever before?

Are you tired of church leadership books that are long on theory but short on practical help?

Have you wanted to reach more people in your community but you weren’t sure where to start?

Are you worried that your church isn’t reaching its full potential?

“Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church” is full of helpful insights to help your church reach more people starting today!

Bestselling author, Rich Birch, has pulled together his own hard-fought experience leading within one of the fastest growing churches in the country as well as over 200 interviews with church leaders from prevailing churches.   ~Amazon

The Unstuck Church: Equipping Churches to Experience Sustained Health

Tony Morgan

Think about your church for a moment. Is it growing? Is it diminishing? Is it somewhere in between? Acclaimed church leader, blogger, and founder and chief strategic officer of The Unstuck Group, Tony Morgan has identified the seven stages of a church’s lifecycle that range from the hopeful and optimistic days of launch, to the stagnating last stages of life support.

Regardless of the stage in which you find your church, it carries with it the world’s greatest mission—to “go and make disciples of all the nations …” With eternity at stake the Church should be doing most everything within its power to see lives changed forever. The Church should strive for the pinnacle of the lifecycle, where they are continually making new disciples and experiencing what Morgan refers to as “sustained health.”

In The Unstuck Church, Morgan unpacks each phase of the church lifecycle, and offers specific and strategic next steps the church leader can take to find its way to sustained health … and finally become unstuck. The Unstuck Church is a call for an honest assessment of where your church sits on the lifecycle, and a challenge to move beyond it.   ~Amazon

Culture Wins: The Roadmap to an Irresistible Workplace

William Vanderbloemen

The roadmap to making your company a great place to work in today’s job-hopping culture starts right here.

What could your company accomplish if it could attract and retain employees who buy into your organization’s mission 100%?

Culture Wins is a practical yet challenging modern guidebook for organizations that want to own the future. Its firsthand insights into building a contagious culture will drive sustainable growth and innovation for any organization. You will build a healthy workplace, increase revenue, and change the world with the lessons you’ll learn. Stop losing employees, grow your team, and build a contagious company culture that outlasts the competition.

There are books on general team building, there are books on workplace best practices, and there are books on leadership—but there is not a book that shows forward-thinking leaders how to integrate it into today’s new job-hopping culture. William Vanderbloemen uses his company’s proven experience in staffing and organizational consulting to provide a global perspective of effective, thriving cultures—and how to create them.   ~Amazon

And More …

Crisis Leadership: Personal Accounts From Leaders Who Found Their Way and Thrived

Scott Barfoot and David Fletcher–Editors

Crisis Leadership takes a fresh and compelling look inside the hearts, minds and personal stories of nine remarkable leaders who battle challenging crises in the frontlines of life and ministry. This short read is packed full of vital wisdom, hope and encouragement to help you be even more effective in your place of leadership.

Rich Birch Unreasonable Churches: 10 Churches Who Zagged When Others Zigged and Saw More Impact Because of It

Rich Birch

In an era when 94% of churches are losing ground against the growth of the communities they serve, there is a new breed of churches who buck the trend.

Unreasonable Churches tells to stories of 10 churches who stopped copying the models of other churches and tried something new. You’ll be inspired to consider how your church could see great impact by blazing new trails!

Everyone’s a Genius: Unleashing Creativity for the Sake of the World

Alan Briggs

Church consultant and author, Alan Briggs, guides the church leader on a profound yet simple methodology on identifying the unique God-given abilities of their parishioners, and empowering them to their best use.

With every church member comes a unique set of skills and abilities. The church leader is charged with the weighty task of uncovering and validating all of them.

While some have easily identifiable skillsets, author and leadership consultant, Alan Briggs, believes that bringing out the abilities of the overlooked–those with a unique skill-set that aren’t as easily identifiable–remains a key component that will determine the church’s impact in this generation.

While well-intentioned, spiritual-gift-inventories have largely focused on how your spiritual gifts can be assimilated into the serving needs inside the local church, but Everyone’s a Genius reframes how God-given genius can help us join God’s mission to restore all things. This is a simple, yet inspiring, look into how we can more effectively challenge those in the church pews to leverage abilities for the sake of impacting the world for Jesus.

Anatomy of an Affair: How Affairs, Attractions, and Addictions Develop, and How to Guard Your Marriage Against Them

Dave Carder

When it comes to adultery, never say, “It won’t happen to me.”

Just when you think your marriage is safe from adultery is when you may be the most vulnerable.

With eye-opening stories, clinical insights, and up-to-date data, Dave Carder reveals what adulterers learned the hard way—and what they want the rest of us to know to save us the pain.

Dave Carder, counselor and author of the bestselling Torn Asunder (100,000 in print), is a sought-after expert on issues of adultery. Here he helps you make your marriage adultery-proof by showing you:

How attractions can lead to affairs Ways you may be vulnerable to affairs The common ingredients of adultery How to restore intimacy to your marriage How to make wise, protective decisions
Marriage is too sacred to be taken casually. Affairs are a very real threat, and they can destroy lives and families. For this reason, Anatomy of an Affair should be on every church leader’s and marriage counselor’s required reading list, and in the home of every married couple.

The Other Side of Leadership: Understanding the Forgotten, Lesser-Known Side of Leading a Ministry

Rob Curry

Get ready to embark on an expedition with a fresh approach to leadership. You will discover contributing factors that may be slowing, stopping, or even reversing progress in your church, ministry, or organization.

The Other Side of Leadership takes you beyond the standard concepts to lesser-understood approaches to enhance effectiveness and avoid pitfalls.

You will learn about the three aspects of the Other Side of Leadership that will equip you with:

Strategies for highly effective thinking, both individually and corporately, to gain and handle truth accurately and holistically.

Skills to understand and connect with people to unite leaders and followers toward a common cause.

A course of action to successfully follow through on plans with maturity and tenacity.

Disruption: Repurposing the Church to Redeem the Community

Mark DeYmaz

Current church planting, growth, and development strategies cannot be sustained.
We need to work smarter in our rapidly changing world.
We must become disruptive.

And yet we typically hesitate to embrace change. We like our traditions. We prefer our familiar patterns and comfortable ruts.

Still, America has dramatically changed. And make no mistake, such change is affecting the church, and more change is coming. So the way we understand things must also change. We must disrupt the status quo, create new patterns, embrace new models, and promote new forms to advance the gospel in our increasingly diverse and cynical society.

In Disruption, thought-leading author and pastor Mark DeYmaz presents a proven, practical guide to help you rethink your approach to church. Whether your congregation is currently growing, plateauing, or declining, if you are a church planter or pastor, or a denominational or network leader, this book is for you. Mark will help you understand why we need to challenge conventional wisdom, learn what new practices to establish and how current metrics are not the primary measure of a church’s influence.

The Mythical Leader: The Seven Myths of Leadership

Ron Edmondson

In The Mythical Leader, Edmondson exposes some of the most common misunderstandings of leadership, shares stories from his own experiences, and will help church leaders develop healthier patterns to improve their individual leadership.
While most people may have a preliminary understanding of many of these myths, they often are not lived out with a great degree of depth in the life of the church leader. Don’t fall prey to these myths! If gone untreated they can be the very thing that prevents a good leader from leading well.

People Patterns: Discovering Giftedness in the Sunlight and Shadow of Relationship

David Fletcher

There are Five People Patterns of how we talk to ourselves and relate to others. We all have Sunlight and Shadow in our lives. Artists and great authors have painted pictures with oils and words to show the light and dark in human relationships. Rembrandt van Rijn, the great Dutch artist, often painted using a strong light source, creating deep shadows on his subject. Some of the uniqueness that is you is easy to see. Another part of you is much harder to understand.

To see our Sunlight and Shadows, we can use the Five People Patterns: Mentor—coach and develop others; Administrator—set rules for successful living; Catalyst—spur others on to new levels of success; Relational—bring harmony and compassion to others; Overseer—keep people on track and organized. As sunlight falls on you, others can easily see who you are. In deep shadows, it is far harder for others to see you. In the same way, we reflect our personality to others in the Sunlight Pattern. In the sunlight we show our strengths for all to see. Our Shadow contains our weaknesses and limitations, things that are awkward or harder for us to do. In the bright sunlight we see our strengths and in the shadows we see our limitations. Sunlight and Shadow form the People Pattern.

Be Mean About the Vision: Preserving and Protecting What Matters

Shawn Lovejoy

Almost every organization has a vision. Few ever accomplish it. Even after short-term success in it, fewer stay true to it over time. Be Mean: Relentlessly Protecting the Vision is about regaining or sustaining the trajectory of the vision over time. It’s about staying true to the vision. Lovejoy explains that this requires understanding the importance of vision, developing a vision we’re willing to die for, and keeping the vision from being compromised or even hijacked.

Though many books have been written on the subject of developing mission or vision statements, there have been few written on how to sustain or protect the vision over time. Shawn has dealt with hundreds of leaders in ministry and has seen countless struggle with keeping everyone on board with the mission and how to align the rest of the organization with the vision. Shawn Lovejoy walks the church leader through the experiences that have taught him to Be Mean, and shows us a strategy of Relentlessly Protecting the Vision.

Defining the Executive Pastor Role (Spanish edition)

Phil Taylor

What is an Executive Pastor? Are you wired to be an XP? How is an XP different than an Associate Pastor? Should XP’s have a degree in pastoral ministry, business, or both? Does your church need an XP? What should a church look for in seeking to fill this often overlooked, undervalued, yet critical position? These and other questions are the focus of this short work on defining the Executive Pastor Role. Written with a brevity designed to allow you to read or skim quickly, you’ll still find enough depth to provide meaningful direction and insight. Current and future XP’s should read this book for definition. Potential XP’s should read this book to clarify their calling. And church leaders considering hiring an XP should read this book before beginning their search.

Passing the Leadership Baton: A Winning Transition Plan for Your Ministry

Tom Mullins

Successfully handing off the leadership baton to the next leader is essential to give our organization the best opportunity to thrive after our time of service. A smooth handoff requires meticulous planning and forethought. Yet most leaders put off even thinking about leadership transition until they are faced with a situation where they have no choice but to make a change. The results of not planning ahead can be devastating for both you and your beloved organization. Passing the Leadership Baton will help you manage the emotional transition yourself while fully supporting the next leader. Creating a seamless succession can be a challenge, but done successfully, it may very well be one of the greatest rewards you’ll experience as a leader.

Lessons from the Church Boardroom: 40 Insights for Exceptional Governance

Dan Busby and John Pearson

Lessons From the Church Boardroom will feel like it’s describing many of your own church board meetings. Disarming yet authoritative, enjoyable yet challenging, it quickly pinpoints an issue and then offers a better way to handle it. The bite-size chapters are certain to help anyone walk away with practical ideas that you can start using at your next board meeting.

Dan Busby and John Pearson deeply love the church and share a passion for Christ-honoring ministry at the board level. They’ve served on boards good and bad, they’ve heard tales from others, and they’ve immersed themselves in the literature of what makes boards work well. Their lessons are both tested for theory and tried by first-hand experience.

In Lessons From the Church Boardroom, we refer to the church governing board or simply the board. We are acutely aware that some churches have multiple boards, and that boards vary from church to church in both function and title. We honor these differences. We believe the 40 lessons that we share will have meaning across denominational lines and within various governance structures. We are prayerful that this book will serve as a catalyst for your church board to catch the vision for exceptional governance. We are hopeful that you’ll help foster a ripple effect of enriching boardroom experiences that honor God. Like many, we believe that as the board goes, so goes the church.   ~Amazon

Nonprofit Financial Oversight: The Concise and Complete Guide for Boards and Finance Committees

Michael E. Batts

Finally! Nonprofit financial oversight is simplified. If you are looking for a way to quickly and efficiently equip your nonprofit board or finance committee members to oversee the financial affairs of your nonprofit organization, look no further. With more than 30 years of hands-on experience serving hundreds of nonprofit organizations, Mike Batts brings his concise and clear communication style to this important topic. Each chapter of this book is an easy read, and the book is loaded with information provided in a plain-language format. The Appendices provide a wealth of useful resources.

You don’t need to be a financial expert to oversee the financial affairs of a nonprofit organization, but you do need to know what to look for and how to evaluate the information you receive. Nonprofit Financial Oversight: The Concise and Complete Guide for Boards and Finance Committees helps you do just that—simply and efficiently.

The Church Event Planning Toolkit: A Step-by-Step Guide to Planning Successful, not Stressful, Church Events

Deborah Ike

Christmas specials, marriage retreats, community outreaches, ladies’ brunches, and more … most churches host several special events each year. Whether you expect 50 people or 5,000, planning an event requires a different process than planning Sunday services.

Too often, church staff and volunteers face last-minute changes, constant meetings, unclear expectations, and late nights the week before the event. If that sounds familiar, this toolkit is for you.

Based on her experience helping churches and as a professional project manager, Deborah Ike shares her approach to making the planning process simple, regardless of the size or type of event. Whatever event you’re planning next, this toolkit will help you create a successful and much less stressful experience for everyone involved. Included with the toolkit are several downloadable templates, including the following: Event Planning Questionnaire; Event Planning High-level Timeline; Event Planning Team Member Job Descriptions; Event Volunteer Job Descriptions, and more …