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Books Focus on Church Leadership
Books Focus on Church Leadership

As congregations head into the challenges of another church year, here are books that can help in areas of leadership and administration. All are available from the UUA Bookstore. Some have been around for several years and others are relatively new.

“These are books that congregational leaders continue to order,” said Bookstore Manager Rose Hanig, “They are among the most useful books we carry on congregational topics.”

  • Encounters at the Counter: What Congregations Can Learn About Hospitality from Business, by Alan Johnson, 2009, $22. Johnson, a United Church of Christ minister, combines his personal stories from working the counter of a bread company with his experiences as a minister and developer of church hospitality programs to share insights about how congregations can be more welcoming.
  • 52 Ways to Ignite Your Congregation: Practical Hospitality, by Randy Hammer, 2009, $14. As it says, this book offers 52 pointers on how congregations can welcome newcomers. It also includes a checklist of items to review before guests arrive.
  • All Are Chosen: Stories of Lay Ministry and Leadership, edited by Margaret L. Beard and Roger W. Comstock, 1998, $12. All Are Chosen is one of the most durable––and still useful––resources for UU lay leaders. It contains 24 essays on youth and young adult ministry, diversity, lay leadership, religious education, and caring for each other. Every church library should have a copy.
  • Behavioral Covenants in Congregations: Handbook for Honoring Differences, by Gilbert Rendle, 1999, $15. Rendle, with the Alban Institute, is a well-known congregational consultant and author. For 11 years this book has remained a staple for congregations wanting to learn how to live creatively together, despite differences of age, race, culture, opinion, and theological and political position.
  • A Door Set Open: Grounding Change in Mission and Hope, by Peter L. Steinke, 2010, $18. Steinke has written several books about congregational health, including Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times: Being Calm and Courageous No Matter What. A Door Set Open is about helping congregations to change. Steinke explores the relationship between the challenges of change and our own responses to new ideas and experiences. The Bookstore blurb about this one says it all: “Inspires leaders to stay the course, unearth secrets, resist sabotage, withstand fury, and overcome doubts. Author's insights, illustrations and provocations will carry leaders through rough times, provide clarity during confusion and uplift them in joyous times.”
  • Governance and Ministry: Rethinking Board Leadership, by Dan Hotchkiss, 2009, $17. Rev. Hotchkiss, a congregational consultant and author at the Alban Institute, offers congregational leaders a “roadmap” for changing the way boards and clergy work together.
  • A Ready Hope: Effective Disaster Ministry for Congregations, by Kathryn M. Haueisen and Carol H. Flores, 2009, $18. The authors, residents of Houston, have personal and professional experience in dealing with the aftermath of tropical storms that have swept through the Gulf Coast region in the past decade. Their book gives an overview of existing disaster response networks, describes the phases of disaster recovery, and explains how congregations can be most helpful. They note, “A variety of organizations bring help when disaster strikes. Faith-based organizations are uniquely equipped to also bring hope to the survivors of the disaster and to the rescue and relief workers who leave home to assist.”
  • Big Ideas for Small Congregations: A Friendly Guide for Leaders, by Jane Dwinnell and Ellen Germann-Melosh, 2007, $20. Small congregations can feel left out in discussions of issues affecting midsize and large congregations. This book, by two writers and congregational consultants who have specialized in work with small congregations, is all about congregations of 150 members or fewer. Topics covered include money, worship, staffing, buildings, religious education, bylaws, and mission.
  • Designing Contemporary Congregations: How to Attract Those Under Fifty, by Laurene Beth Bowers, 2008, $14. The Rev. Bowers, pastor of a Congregational Church in Massachusetts, identifies strategies to develop contemporary worship, including creating worship that moves, by adding nontraditional music, dance, drama, and personal witnessing. There are chapters on worship, social justice, rituals, and evangelism.

About the Author

  • Donald E. Skinner was the founding editor of the InterConnections newsletter for congregational leaders and a senior editor of UU World from 1998 until his retirement in 2014. He is a member of the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church in Lenexa, Kansas.

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