We've all heard people use some sort of pithy quote about reading. "Readers are leaders and leaders are readers." I don't know how truth something like that is, but I do know that reading is important. Aside from the Bible, it is vital that a youth pastor be constantly reading in order to grow intellectually.
Here are the four types of books that I generally read to help me grow as a pastor and leader.
- Leadership Books - I will be honest, this is a new type of book for me. I never read much in the way of leadership before. However, as a youth pastor, you are a leader, a leader of students, parents, volunteers, and members of the church. Your effectiveness in ministry relies on your ability to lead. I am currently reading Developing the Leader Within You by John Maxwell. Other books you might want to check out are The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and How To Win Friends and Influence People.
- Youth Ministry Books - I want to constantly be growing as a youth pastor. To do this, I read a lot of youth ministry-related texts. Some I've read multiple times. I honestly can't tell you the number of times I've read Purpose-Driven Youth Ministry. I also highly recommend The Seven Checkpoints by Andy Stanley, Outbreak by Greg Stier, and Raising the Bar by Alvin Reid.
- General Christian Nonfiction - A lot of Christian leaders write books. Many of them are really good and are worth your time to check out. I read a lot of books in this category, mainly to learn and sometimes to get sermon ideas. Some of the books I've read in this category include The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler, Gospel by J.D. Greear, and Erasing Hell by Francis Chan. This is the category where I do most of my reading because I learn the most in this area.
- General Nonfiction - I don't read a lot out of this category because I tend to bounce from book to book way to easily. However, it is important to learn as much as you can to be an effective leader. Nonfiction is a great way to do that. Some of the most interesting books are nonfiction. Some of my favorites include Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach, and Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner.
Of course, the above list is not comprehensive. There are many other types of books that you should be reading. Commentaries and books to help you understand the Scripture are necessary. I also highly recommend that you take the time to read some fiction, just to give your brain time to relax. I am a huge fan of Michael Connelly, John Grisham, and Vince Flynn.
Of course, being a reader won't make you an effective youth pastor or leader. That being said, it certainly can't hurt. Grab a book and get started.
All of the books referenced have been linked to Amazon.com to make it easier for you to find out more about them. If you have a Kindle or the Kindle app on your iPad, most of these books are available in that format as well.
What books do you enjoy reading? How are these books helping you become a more effective youth pastor or leader?