Below are the books that we have found most helpful for congregations who wish to have a thriving ministry. Use the links to go directly to any of the four categories. Members of the Congregational Life Centre may borrow any of these from our library on request.

Church Development Books directly dealing with congregational development and dynamics.

Organizational Behaviour Books dealing with behaviour and dynamics of organizations in general.

Small Group Ministry Some resources for congregations launching a ministry through small groups.

Spirituality Resources that restore the spirit.

Church Development

Arn, Charles, How to Start a New Service,
Your Church can Reach New People
Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1997.

Bandy, Thomas G., Kicking Habits,
Welcome Relief for Addicted Churches
Toronto: United Church Publishing House, 1997.
A prescription for congregational renewal. CD Ba

Barnsley, Catherine, Carol Stevenson Seller, How Will We Team?
Toronto: The United Church of Canada, 2003.

Callahan, Kennon L., Twelve Keys to an Effective Church,
San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1983.
This is a classic, outlining the six relational and six facility factors which are key to the health and growth of a congregation. CD Ca

Chandler, Russell, Feeding the Flock,
Restaurants and Churches You Would Stand in Line For
Alban Institute, 1998. Standing in line at a restaurant, Chandler began to wonder what a church you were willing to stand in line for would be like.

Dudley, Carl S., Sally A. Johnson, Energizing the Congregation,
Images that shape your church's ministry
Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993.

Easum, William M., Thomas G. Bandy, Growing Spiritual Redwoods,
Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1997.
A how-to book on developing spiritual "giants." CD Ea

Gaede, Beth Ann Editor, Size Transitions in Congregations,
The Alban Institute, 2001.

Hamilton, Adam, Selling Swimsuits in the Arctic,
Seven Simple Keys to Growing Churches
Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2005.
The seven steps in "selling" what a congregation has to offer. Believe in the product? Need? Getting the right product? Getting the product right? Embodying the product. Selling the product. Persistence. CD Ha

Hunter III, George G., The Contageous Congregation,
Frontiers in Evangelism and Church Growth
Nashville: Abingdon, 1979.

Madsen, Joyce, Clair Woodbury, Prisms,
Edmonton: Congregational Life Centre, 2004.

Madsen, Joyce, Clair Woodbury, Prisms Workbook,
Edmonton: Congregational Life Centre, 2004.

Mann, Alice, Can Our Church Live,
Redeveloping Congregations in Decline
Washington: Alban Institute, 1999.
Growth requires change, and change means conflict. CD Ma

Mann, Alice, The In-Between Church,
Navigating Size Transitions in Congregations
Alban Institute, 1998.

McGavran, Donald, George G. Hunter III, Church Growth Strategies that Work,
Nashville: Abingdon, 1980.

Mead, Loren B., More than Numbers,
The way churches grow
Washington: The Alban Institute, 1993.
Four kinds of growth are outlined; numerical, maturational, organizational and incarnational. CD Me

Mead, Loren B., The Once and Future Church,
Washington: The Alban Institute, 1991.
This book started a movement and is a must read today. The church has just entered the post Christendom era, and that has resulted in profound change. CD Me

Olsen, Charles M., Transforming Church Boards into Communities of Spiritual Leaders,
Washington: The Alban Institute, 1995.
His "story weaving" process alone is worth the price of this book. CD Ol

Oswald, Roy M., Speed B. Leas, The Inviting Church,
A study of new member assimilation
Washington: The Alban Institute, 1987.
Research gives Oswald and Leas deep insight into what attracts, and what repels, prospective congregation members. CD Os

Posterski, Donald C., Gary Nelson, Future Faith Churches,
Reconnecting with the Power of the Gospel for the Gospel for the 21st Century
Winfield: Wood Lake Books, 1997.

Posterski, Donald C., Irwin Barker, Where's a Good Church?
Canadians respond from the pulpit, podium and pew
Winfield: Wood Lake Books, 1993.
A well-documented survey that covers a wide spectrum of denominations gives the findings reported in this book great credibility. CD Po

Saarinen, Martin F., The Life Cycle of a Congregation,
Alban Institute, 1986.

Saunders, Clark, Clair Woodbury, Ministry as an Art,
Toronto: United Church Publishing House, 1996.
Short sharp chapters urge lay and clergy alike to take every aspect of ministry seriously enough to make it an art which speaks to the emotions and the soul as well as the intellect. CD Sa

Smith, Donald P., How to Attract and Keep Active Church Members,
Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1992.
Solidly based on extensive research, this book is a gold mine of ideas for keeping your congregation vital. CD Sm

Waltz, Mark L., First Impressions,
Creatiing Wow Experiences in Your Church
Loveland, CO: Group Publishing, 2005.
A treasury of hints how to give newcomers a Wow experience within their first ten minutes of attending your church. Review: CLC Newsletter Aug. 2005 Vol 11 No. 5. Welcoming. Integrating. Marketing. Hospitality. CD Wa

Woodbury, Clair, 100 Ways to Be the Church,
Winfield: Wood Lake Books, 1991.
Four cultural life styles, five decision-making preferences and five faith stances add up to 100 ways to be the church. An instrument is included to help you determine your congregation's location. CD Wo

Woodbury, Clair, Joyce Madsen, Wings Like Eagles,
How to be a Thriving Congregation in the 21st Century
Edmonton AB: Congregational Life Centre, 2000.

Woodbury, Clair, Joyce Madsen, Wings Like Eagles Leader's Guide,
Edmonton: Congregational Life Centre, 2001.

Organizational Behaviour

Bender, Peter Urs, Leadership From Within,
Toronto: The Achievement Group, 2002.
Leadership. Passion. Vision. OB Be

Blanchard, Ken, Sheldon Bowles, Raving Fans,
A revolutionary approach to customer service
New York: William Morrow & Company, 1993.
The authors are in the business of renewing the marketplace. They have three pieces of advice that can apply equally to renewing a church. Humorous with a male fairy godmother Charlie. Easy to read. OB Bl

Block, Peter, Stewardship,
Choosing Service Over Self-Interest
San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 1993.
This is a secular book that goes a little too far sometimes but has helpful insights that apply to a church situation. Management. Leadership. Partnership. Risk. OB Bl

Bridges, William, Managing Transitions,
Making the most of change
Reading: Addison-Wesley Publishing, 1991.
The is the classic work, along with his earlier Transitions, as far as managing change is concerned.

Bridges, William, The Character of Organizations,
Using Jungian Type in Organizatonal Development
New York: HarperCollins, 1992.
Using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicators and MBTI characteristics applied to organizations. (Ask about the Centre's version of the instrument for churches.) OB Br

Carver, John, Boards the Make a Difference,
A New Design for Leadership in Non-profit and Public Organizations
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1990.
A new vision for governing boards. Policy as a leadership tool. Creating strong boards. OB Ca

Collins, Jim, Good to Great,
Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don't
New York: HarperCollins, 2001.
Leadership & passion. OB Co

Conger, Jay A., & Associates, Spirit at Work,
Discovering the Spirituality in Leadership
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1994.
Leadership and spirituality. Leading from within. The integrity and spirituality of Vaclav Havel. OB Co

Covey, Stephen R., The 8th Habit,
From Effectiveness to Greatness
New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004.
The 8th habit, to find your voice and inspire others to find theirs, is a core principle for any church that strives to be truly effective in this information age. OB Co

Covey, Stephen R., The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,
Powerful lessons in personal change
New York: Simon & Schuster, 1990.
Be proactive. Begin with the end in mind. Put first things first. Think win/win. Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Synergize. Sharpen the saw. Covey brings a deep sense of principle to his advice. OB Co

Drucker, Peter F., Managing the Non-profit Organization,
New York: Harper Business, 1990.
Out of print for a while, but now available, this is a great book by a leading business consultant who is also an ardent churchman. OB Dr

Johnson, Spencer, Who Moved My Cheese?
An a-mazing way to deal with change in your work and in your life.
New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2002.

Katzenbach, Jon R., Douglas K. Smith, The Wisdom of Teams,
Creating the High Performance Organization
New York: HarperBusiness, 2003.
A supurb documentation of the value of working in teams, along with a description of effective team dynamics. OB Ka

Senge, Peter, The Dance of Change,
The Challenges to Sustaining Momentum in Learning Organizations
New York: Doubleday, 1999.
Senge identifies four challenges when initiating change, three while sustaining transformation, and three that emerge when it comes to redesigning and rethinking a change process.

Small Group Ministry

Baldwin, Christina, Calling the Circle,
The first and future culture
Mill Spring NC: Swan-Raven & Co., 1994.
Circles are here to stay and were always here. An excellent resource for small group ministry. SGM Ba

Donahue, Bill, Willow Creek Small Groups Team, Leading Life-changing Small Groups,
Grand Rapids Michigan: Zondervan, 2002.
A workbook format containing much practical advice on small group leadership, conducting meetings, starting small groups in your church, etc. Highly recommended. SGM Do

Hill, Robert L., The Complete Guide to Small Group Ministry,
Saving the world ten at a time.
Boston: Skinner House Books, 2003.
The Unitarian guide book to small group ministry SGM Hi

Kirkpatrick, Thomas G., Small Groups in the Church,
A handbook for creating community
Washington: Alban Institute, 1995.
This is a practical book on small groups - how to form groups, train leaders, and support an ongoing small group ministry. SGM Ki

Martin, Anne, Rooted in the Divine,
Nurturing Our Faith through Small Group Ministry
Toronto: United Church of Canada, 2004.
A small but comprehensive coverage of small group ministry. $10.95 CDN. SGM Ma

Martin, Anne, Exploring Faith Questions,
Journeys of Spirituality and Discovery
Toronto: United Church Publishing House, 2004.
Topics for thirteen small group sessions. Useful for any church with a small group ministry SGM Ma


Ackerman, John, Spiritual Awakening,
A guide to spiritual life in congregations
Washington: The Alban Institute, 1995.
This is an excellent guide to spirituality and uses the Meyers-Briggs categories to explore types of prayer and meditation. SP Ak

Bender, Sue, Everyday Sacred,
A Woman's Journey Home
New York: Harper Collins, 1995.

Moore, Thomas, Care of the Soul,
A guide for cultivating depth and sacredness in everyday life
New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1992.
Moore's years in the monastery and experience as a therapist combine to free the concept of soul from years of denominational bondage and open the door for true spiritual growth. SP Mo

Palmer, Parker J., Let Your Life Speak,
Listening for the Voice of Vocation
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 20000.
"Vocation … comes from a voice 'in here' calling me to be the person I was born to be." "Vocation is "the place where your deep gladness meets the world's deep need." (16) SP Pa

Richardson, Jan, In Wisdom's Path,
Discovering the Sacred in every Season
Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press, 2000.

Up to Top

Congregational Life Home Page