Books on bookshelves
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When I’m talking with potential leaders, I’m usually investigating how much knowledge they have and how they learn. One great question is “What are you reading right now, and what books have impacted you the most?”

I love the responses to this question and thought I’d answer it myself here. Here is my list of books that have impacted me the most as a family ministry leader. Please add your own impactful books in the comments section.

Think Orange by Reggie Joiner

Honestly, it’s a bit much because it’s the manifesto on all things family ministry. Lots of things to disagree with and agree with all in the same book. There is also the Orange Leader Handbook, which is much more digestible to go through with a team of leaders.

Lead Small by Reggie Joiner and Tom Shefchunas

This is a fantastic book written for leaders that lead kids/students in small groups. I’m real excited about what could come from this little book, because it is stuffed to the brim with ideas for the small-group leader. I’ve always got this book available to give away. I take it to lunch when I’m meeting with small-group leaders and have even highlighted sections in advance for people!

Dreaming of More for the Next Generation by Michelle Anthony

I recommend this book to anyone working with kids and students. It’s a great thesis on the “how” of leading kids/students. I love the thoughts on how to teach the Holy Spirit to kids.

Revolutionary Parenting by George Barna

A slightly controversial book on what research says about adult Christ-following kids. It’s great if you want to connect parents to what matters. I’ve given this away to parents for years.

Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley

I really believe that as you talk to churches, you are going to find more and more that have been through this book. At least in the interviews I’ve done in the past month, this has proven true.

Next Generation Leader by Andy Stanley

Intentional apprenticing is vital to how we do ministry at Athens Church. This book is a great guide to take a young person through, or anyone in whom you see potential leadership.

StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath

This little book is the easiest way to discover what makes you the leader you are, and when used on an entire team, it will give you a glimpse into how to lead those around you as well as how to follow your own leader well. I’ve got a stack of these in my office at all times to give to leaders I’m talking to.

Sticky Faith by Kara Powell

This book takes a look at the attempt of churches and parents to develop deep, profound, sticky faith in their children. I’m not sure it has all the answers, but it’s impactful nonetheless.

Jonathan Cliff is director of family ministries at Athens Church in Athens, Ga. He is a huge advocate for the family and believes the family is God’s primary way of reaching the world. Cliff has been named one of the Top 20 kids’ ministry leaders to watch by Children’s Ministry Magazine and serves on the board of directors for the International Children’s Ministry Network.

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