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In the last few weeks, we have been focusing on beginnings. We have begun a new academic year at Calvin Seminary. One of those days began with faculty processing in their academic regalia for Convocation and ended with some of those same faculty members wearing shorts for a seminary-wide picnic. It has been a good beginning. 

Last month I asked for your help in co-teaching the Leadership in Ministry course at Calvin Seminary. Thank you for the great insights and questions that were provided. You can read additional challenges and encouragements that were received in that format by going to my previous post Leadership in Ministry Course - Your Input Needed.  I will be reading many of your comments in class to help our students know of your interest and wisdom.

There are a number of resources that were referenced, but it might be helpful for you to know some of what our students have read or will be reading.

Here is the book list:

  • Open Secrets: A Spiritual Journey Through a Country Church by Richard Lischer
  • The Leaders’ Journey: Accepting the Call to Personal and Congregational Transformation by Herrington, Creech and Taylor
  • One Size Doesn’t Fit All by Gary McIntosh
  • In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen
  • The Unity Factor: Developing a Healthy Church Leadership Team by Larry Osborne
  • Strengthfinders 2.0 by Tom Rath
  • The Emotionally Healthy Church by Peter Scazzero with Warren Bird
  • Pastor: The Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry by William Willimon

There are many other readings that will be assigned, but these books will help form the conversation. 

The reality is that most seminarians and even presidents are asked – “Do you read all those books?”  A student said that when he is asked that he responds – “Some even twice!”  (He did a good job of evading the question which I appreciated as a former attorney.) 

One of the skill exercises that we are introducing in our class is the skill of “deep skimming.” Over twenty years ago, I sat under the teaching of then Professor Neal Plantinga. As one of the key exercises, he gave us a book list and asked us to dip into the book for one hour only to get what you can out of it and then write a paper on what you know of the book. It was one of those key exercises that can be so helpful in surveying a lot of literature in a short period of time. So what was good for one President is good enough for another. 

We are asking students to pick two books to do such “deep skimming” in the area of leadership. We hope it broadens and deepens their pallet as well as give them a “taste” of other authors.

As we continue the conversation, what book would you recommend that our students dive into as part of their surveying the literature and gaining their bearings for their journey as servant leaders? 

You can add your suggested list and comments below. Thank you for your help!  


As I mentioned in my comment to your first post, our future pastors need to explore what it means for the church to be inclusive with people with disabilities. What does the Bible say about inviting and welcoming these fellow image bearers to worship God with us. An excellent book on this topic is The Lost Mandate, A Christ Command Revealed by Dan'l C Markham. This book talks about the mandate given by Christ in Luke 14 to 'Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.'

Another subject closely related to disability ministry is biomedical ethics. How can the church be a light as people are being challenged daily with beginning and end of life decisions. How are pastors going to respond when people come to them asking for advice on these difficult issues.While we should not expect our pastors to know everything, we should expect them to be acquainted with issues such as bio ethics so they can encourage the church to seek answers with a Biblical perspective. How To Be A Christian In A Brave New World by Joni Eareckson Tada and Nigel Cameron is a very good source of information for bio ethics.

Both of these books are available in Kindle format which can be very helpful to a seminarian's budget.





You've probably already had this recommendation, but Center Church by Timothy Keller is an intriguing and helpful book. Its brought greater clarity to my thinking on a range of issues dealing with the role of the church in the broader community. 


Leading with a Limp - Dan Allender; Spiritual Leadership - Henry & Richard Blackaby; Relational Leadership - Walter Wright; Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership - Ruth Haley Barton; Missional Leader - Roxburgh & Romanuk

The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer is always a good read and another I have found helpful is The Equipping Pastor by R. Paul Stevens and Phil Collins which is a systems approach to congregational leadership. 

To be honest, I found Bill Hybles' book Courageous Leadership to be very helpful and insightful. It gave me a lot to go by for my own perosnal growth in leadership. I know it's a bit more "pop culturery" (as in not Henri Nouwen) but it has some good stuff that can be taken away for leaders.

A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards was very helpful for me in dealing with "alligators" in the congregation. A quick, easy read.

The Pastor by Eugene Peterson; Building a Discipleship Culture by Mike Breen; Christ-Based Leadership by David Stark; Church Unique by Will Mancini; The Making of a Leader by Bobby Clinton; The Eight Concepts of Bowen Theory by Roberta Gilbert and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni.

Hello President Medenblik,

Thank you for passing on the reading list.  'Looks very helpful!  And thank you for inviting our input as pastors in the field.  Three titles that immediately come to mind are: Leading the Congregation, by Norman Shawchuck & Reuben Job; Center Church, by Timothy Keller; and The Pastor, by Eugene Peterson.

May the Lord bless your teaching and leadership ministry!


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