A good book is like a conversation that you have with the author. Over the years, I have had many great conversations with great authors.

When I started doing kids ministry the internet was called books. I was 21 years old and didn’t know anyone or anything. I wasn’t able to tweet my questions to the #kidmin hashtag or fire off an email to a legendary kidmin guru. I instead turned to books. While I love social media and blogs, there is something about a book that still holds value. A good book is like a conversation that you have with the author. Over the years I have had many great conversations with great authors. I have had many unknowing mentors that have helped develop, grow, and challenge my leadership.

Choosing the right books was a challenge for me at first because I just picked books up at random. Some were amazing, others were awful. I also felt like I had to “finish what I started,” so I would get bogged down in awful books. (Don’t do that. If a book is awful, give it two or three chapters max then close it and move on. Life is too short: you will never read all the books that you want to, so stop reading books you don’t want to.)

Before I get to my list of 10 books I think every kids pastor should read, here are a few quick thoughts on how to pick a good book every time.

  1. Pick books based on a topic that interests you or you want to learn more about.
  2. Ask your reader friends what books they are loving right now.
  3. Once you find a few authors you love and trust, read everything they write—good authors write good books
  4. A bit nerdy, but look at the appendices in a book you enjoy for the book references that the author used to write that book.

The 10 books every kids pastor should read.

1) Big Truths for Young Hearts- Bruce Ware

Big Truths for Young Hearts by Bruce Ware

Bruce is professor of Christian theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. With Big Truths for Young Hearts, Bruce, encourages and enables parents of children 6-14 years of age to teach through the whole of systematic theology at a level their children can understand. Parents can teach their children the great truths of the faith and shape their world views early, based on
these truths. (Amazon Description)

The book covers ten topics of systematic theology, devoting several brief chapters to each subject. This book was meant to be used as a book for parents to read to their kids, and learn for themselves the deep theological truths of the Christian faith. Bruce does an amazing job of making the complex accessible. This book should be owned by every kids’ pastor and every parent. There will be some things in the book you may not agree with and that’s OK. The reinforcement of the orthodoxy viewpoint of our faith is worth the random denominational bone you may encounter. I love this book; I hope you will as well.

2) Tale of Three Kings – by Gene Edwards

Tale of Three Kings by Gene EdwardsThis best-selling tale is based on the biblical figures of David, Saul, and Absalom. For the many Christians who have experienced pain, loss, and heartache at the hands of other believers, this compelling story offers comfort, healing, and hope. Christian leaders and directors of religious movements throughout the world have recommended this simple, powerful, and beautiful story to their members and staff. You will want to join the thousands who have been profoundly touched by this incomparable story. (Amazon Description)

This is one of those books I read every year. It’s a quick easy read that is an important reminder whether you are a 22 year old seminary student or a 45 year old associate pastor. I first read this in my freshman year in bible college. I had a profound impact on my life then and continues to do so today. The challenge to be a leader who avoids spears and with the humble confidence the gospel allows keeps you from picking up your own spears to throw at others.

3) 1000 Gifts – by Ann VosKamp

1000 Gifts by Ann VoskampJust like you, Ann Voskamp hungers to live her one life well. Forget the bucket lists that have us escaping our everyday lives for exotic experiences. “How,” Ann wondered, “do we find joy in the midst of deadlines, debt, drama, and daily duties? What does the Christ-life really look like when your days are gritty, long—and sometimes even dark? How is God even here?”(Amazon Description)

Ann is such a gifted writer. Her book is saturated with gratitude. Living a life of gratitude is only possible through the lens the Gospel provides. Ann is an amazing storyteller who weaves a marvelous tapestry of grace in her book 1000 Gifts. Which leaves you looking at your life in light of what you have been given rather than the what you don’t have.

4) The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones

Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-JonesThe Jesus Storybook Bible is simply breathtaking. Sally accomplishes something in her children’s book that few other authors achieve. She paints a picture of the whole story of the Gospel from start to finish in a way that moves kids to worship from the age 4 to 94. Sally’s ability to distill biblical truth is unparalleled. Adults need the Jesus Storybook Bible as much as kids do

5) The Fabulous Reinvention of Sunday School by Aaron Reynolds

Imagine a roomful of kids on Sunday absolutely enraptured by dynamic Bible teaching. Here and there a mouth hangs open as the kids engage the story of Boaz and Ruth with the kind of enthusiasm usually reserved for their new Xbox 360. Fabulous Reinvention Sunday School Aaron ReynoldsIsn’t that what you want as a Sunday school teacher? You long to reach your kids on Sunday in a way that actually makes a difference in their lives on Monday. But how? A new book of crafts and activities? Nope. Fifty new conversation starters for kids and leaders? Nuh uh. One more booklet of reproducible coloring sheets? Don’t even. How about a book jam-packed with techniques and creative methods that lead to truly transformational teaching … the kind that leaves kids living life differently on Monday as a result of their time with you on Sunday. (Amazon Description)

When people ask me for a kids’ ministry book that gives them practical resources, I invariably tell them to get this book. Aaron clearly articulates the need for transformational teaching in every kids’ environment. He then backs up his claims with tried and tested examples you can put into use the next Sunday you are teaching kids.

6) Leadership and Self-deception by The Arbinger Institute

Leadership and Self-Deception by the Arbinger InstituteThrough a story everyone can relate to about a man facing challenges on the job and in his family, the authors expose the fascinating ways that we can blind ourselves to our true motivations and unwittingly sabotage the effectiveness of our own efforts to achieve success and increase happiness. (Amazon Description)ds

I don’t care where you lead, you struggle with self-deception. This book is very easy to read yet is extremely convicting. Leadership is more about emotional intelligence than actual intelligence and this book will help you lead smarter. This book is a must read for kids’ pastor, senior pastors, CEO’s and stay at home moms. The principles are timeless and apply in any context.

7) Volunteers that Stick by Jim Wideman

Volunteers that Stick by Jim WidemanJim Wideman has become a very good friend of mine, but he is not on this list because he is my friend. He is on this list because this is one of the best books on volunteer management period. In kids’ ministry you deal with more volunteers than most ministries in the church, so if you can’t lead volunteers, you can’t lead kids’ ministry. It’s that simple. The principles in this book reference kids’ ministry but apply across the board to any ministry.

8) Think Orange by Reggie Joiner

Think Orange Reggie JoynerReggie Joiner has done more to advance the conversation around family ministry than any person in children’s or youth ministry that I know. In his book “Think Orange” he builds the case for churches to look at how they minister to the next generation differently. Rather than competing with mom and dad, what would it look like to work alongside mom and dad and to leverage each other’s influence to multiply our impact? If you work in kids’ or youth ministry, this book is a must-own.

9) What’s Best Next by Matt Perman

Do Work That Matters Productivity isn’t just about getting more things done. It’s about getting the right things done—the things that count, make a difference, and move the world forward.

Whats Best Next Matt PermanIn our current era of massive overload, this is harder than ever before. So how do you get more of the right things done without confusing mere activity for actual productivity?

When we take God’s purposes into account, a revolutionary insight emerges. Surprisingly, we see that the way to be productive is to put others first—to make the welfare of other people our motive and criteria in determining what to do (what’s best next). As both the Scriptures and the best business thinkers show, generosity is the key to unlocking our productivity. It is also the key to finding meaning and fulfillment in our work. (Amazon Description)

This is one of the latest books I’ve read on this list, but I included it because no matter what size church you are in, you need to read this book. How we use our time is important. We need to have a strategy that helps us to leverage the time we have to glorify God in all things. I love how Matt connects productivity to the gospel in such practical and theological ways. This book will help you not only get more work done, but also understand why getting more done matters in the first place. Pick this book up and do what matters most much sooner than you would by just trying to get stuff done.

10) The Eric Trap – Jim Wideman and others

Eric Trap by Jim WidemanAlright: shameless plug. I was one of the others that helped to write The Eric Trap. It was as fun to write as it is to read. The Eric Trap is a leadership fable the follows the life of Eric Newman and the 5 leadership challenges that he has to get right. What’s amazing about this book is every person who has read this book thinks we wrote it about them. It’s such a helpful resource because you get practical insight from actual ministry leaders as well as find yourself identifying with Eric and the challenges he faces.

This one’s a freebie8-qualities-of-a-great-Sunday-school-teacher

Interested in picking up one more book? This guide’s on us! Greg Baird’s “8 Qualities of a Great Sunday School Teacher” is available for free download today. Plug in your email and we’ll send it to you. (You’ll also get tips and updates from Disciplr by email.)

Sam Luce

Author Sam Luce

Sam Luce has been a pastor at Redeemer Church in Utica NY for the past 17 years—14 of those years serving as children’s pastor. Currently he serves as the Utica Campus Pastor and the Global family pastor. Sam writes about things he is passionate about: the power of the gospel, becoming a better leader, ministering to kids, technology, humorous anything, and being the best dad and husband he can be.

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