Christian Leadership Essentials: A Recommendation

Of the writing of leadership books there is no end. Fortunately, some of them are quite useful for pastors and other Christian leaders, especially when they are uniquely focused on ministry-related leadership. One particularly helpful example is Christian Leadership Essentials: A Handbook for Managing Christian Organizations (B&H Academic), edited by Union University President David Dockery.

Christian Leadership Essentials includes a number of helpful essays that address such topics as vision development and communication, the nuts-and-bolts of management, leadership development, fundraising, and biblical and theological reflections on leadership. While most of the chapters are written from the perspective of Christian higher education leadership, the principles advanced have a wide application, especially in denominational agencies and parachurch ministries. Pastors and other church staff will also find many of the chapters helpful, even if not all are directly applicable to local church ministry.

The book includes the following chapters:

Introduction – David S. Dockery

Chapter 1: A Biblical Model of Leadership – Robert B. Sloan

Chapter 2: Christian Leadership and the Identity and Mission of an Organization – David J. Gyertson

Chapter 3: Leadership, Vision, and Strategic Planning – Bob R. Agee

Chapter 4: Governance and Board Relations – Robert Andringa

Chapter 5: Managing the Organization – R. Judson Carlberg

Chapter 6: Financial Oversight and Budget Planning – Jon Wallace

Chapter 7: Development, Campaigns, and Building Projects – Evans P. Whitaker

Chapter 8: Institutions, Organizations, and Foundation Relations – Alvin O. Austin

Chapter 9: Leadership, Organizations, and External Relations – Carl Zylstra

Chapter 10: Relationships with Multiple and Various Constituencies – James Edwards

Chapter 11: Selecting and Building Leadership Teams – Thom S. Rainer

Chapter 12: From Peer to Manager – Carla Sanderson

Chapter 13: Employee Relations in a Grace-Filled Community – Philip W. Eaton

Chapter 14: Engaging the Culture – Barry H. Corey

Chapter 15: Crisis Management – Kimberly Thornbury

Chapter 16: The Leader as Mentor and Pastor – Randall O’Brien

Chapter 17: Leadership for a Global World – Charles A. Fowler

Chapter 18: Leadership Transitions and the Search Process – Tommy Thomas

Some Closing Thoughts – David S. Dockery

Each of the chapters is well worth your time, but one of the great advantages of Christian Leadership Essentials is that it can be read through in one shot or can be delved into here and there, based upon interests and/or responsibilities. From my context as a younger leader working in a theological seminary, I particularly enjoyed the chapters by Sloan, Rainer, Sanderson, and O’Brien, along with Dockery’s brief introduction and conclusion.

I highly recommend Christian Leadership Essentials for current ministry leaders or those who aspire to such positions. It is the perfect complement to more introductory overviews of Christian leadership such as J. Oswald Sanders’ Spiritual Leadership or John Stott’s Basic Christian Leadership.