Groucho Marx joked, “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”

Garrison Keillor quipped, “A book is a gift you can open again and again.”

Mark Twain noted, “The man who does not read good books is no better than the man who can’t.”

And Rick Warren said, “Every profession has its tools. You can’t be a doctor without a stethoscope. You can’t be a carpenter without a hammer and a saw. The minister’s tools are his books. We’re in the feeding, leading, and communicating business. Reading helps us do that more effectively.”

Leaders tend to be readers. The best leaders are consistently reading, growing, learning and stretching to be all God wants them to be.

In 2018 I set goals to read a certain number of books—I find if I don’t make it a goal, I don’t make it. “Audible” became one of my new best friends this past year—I highly recommend it! I also decided to subscribe to “Blinkist” and blink through 52 books through that website this past year. I’m not sure I liked it, I may look for a different book summary plan in 2019 But I’m glad I met my reading goals.


1. “Godforsaken: Bad Things Happen. Is there a God who cares? Yes. Here’s proof.”

by Dinesh D'Souza

This is the best explanation for the problem of evil that I’ve ever seen—and it is written from a scientific perspective.

2. “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: What Got You Here Won't Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful” by Marshall Goldsmith

Goldsmith works through twenty possible blind spots that successful people may have—these blind spots may be keeping them from getting to the next level. Ouch.

3. “Spirit-Filled Jesus” by Mark Driscoll

If Jesus needed help, we all do. Spirit-Filled Jesus explores the role of the Holy Spirit in and through the life of Jesus, revealing aspects of His life that have not been examined before and helping you see how this applies to you.

4. “Republicans Buy Sneakers Too” by Clay Travis

This book outlines how politics is ruining sports, and just about everything else.

That’s my list. What’s yours?

Feel free to send me your list of top books of 2018 at We will add your ideas and try to keep the article updated.

Happy Reading!

Here are some of the “Best Books” sent in by contributors:

Jim Jessup, William Jessup University, Rocklin, CA

1. Preaching the Other Way: How to Develop a Teaching Team in Your Church by JD Pearring . There is a reason why I listed Jim’s pick first!

Willie Nolte, Mission Lead for Transformation Ministries, Covina, CA

“The Power of Moments,” by Chip and Dan Heath.

Chris Hall, Lead Pastor, Catalyst Church, Santa Paula, CA

“The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure” by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt

Alan Adler, Transformation Ministries, Covina, CA

“Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World” by Andy Stanley

Ivan Villalta, Pastor, Ttorre de Alabanza, Duarte, CA

1. “The Power of Moments,” by Chip and Dan Heath.

2. “Leading the Other Way: How to Change the Church Planting World” by JD Pearring

3. “The Externally Focused Church” by Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson

David Bennett, Financial Guru and Excel Board Member

“The Kindness Challenge: Thirty Days to Improve Any Relationship by Shaunti Feldhahn

David Saenz, Lead Pastor, Experience Church, Poway, CA

“Don't Miss It: Parent Every Week Like It Counts” by Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy

Tiffany Saenz, Poway, CA

“Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” by Angela Duckworth

Edson Martinez, Ministerios Transformacion, Tijuana, Mexico

“The Last Arrow: Save Nothing for the Next Life” by Erwin Raphael McManus

Jim Lennon, Lead Pastor, Inspire Church, Sun City West, AZ

“Communicating for a Change: Seven Keys to Irresistible Communication” by Andy Stanley

Bryon Scott, Lead Pastor, Engage Church, Lemon Grove, CA

“Flickering Pixels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith” by Shane Hipps

Chan Kwak, Lead Pastor, One Church LA, Los Angeles, CA

“The Master's Plan for the Church” by John F MacArthur

Le Selah, Lead Pastor Rebirth Church, Hollywood, CA

1. “Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus” by C. Christopher Smith and John Pattison

2. “Leading the Other Way: How to Change the Church Planting World” by JD Pearring

3. “The Emotionally Healthy Leader: How Transforming Your Inner Life Will Deeply Transform Your Church, Team, and the World” by Peter Scazzero

Stu Streeter, Lead Pastor, Disciples Church, Folsom, CA

Canoeing The Mountains” by Tod Bolsinger. I loved the historical parallels between the uncharted challenges faced by Lewis & Clark and the unknown obstacles church leaders will face as we navigate our post-Christian culture. As a history nerd and a ministry geek, Tod fed me well with this book.

David Cooke, Lead Pastor Cold Spring Community Church, Placerville, CA

“Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.” By Brené Brown

Geoff Wells, Excel Board Member, Elk Grove, CA

“Godforsaken: Bad Things Happen. Is there a God who cares? Yes. Here’s proof.”

by Dinesh D'Souza

Chris Finchum, Lead Pastor, CityWalk Church, Yuba City, CA

“The Last Arrow: Save Nothing for the Next Life” by Erwin Raphael McManus

John Cassidy, Lead Pastor, Hope Community Church, Citrus Heights, CA

“Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World” by Andy Stanley

Rick Weber, NorCal NAB, Roseville, CA

“The Pursuit of God” by A. W. Tozer

Esther Tress, Pastor, Cold Springs Community Church, Placerville, CA

“Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God” by Dallas Willard

Nick Campagna, Pastor of Next Generation Ministry, Cold Springs Church, Placerville, CA

“Disappearing Church: From Cultural Relevance to Gospel Resilience” by Mark Sayers

Jake MacGregor, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Lodi, CA

“Between Noon and Three: Romance, Law, and the Outrage of Grace” by Robert Farrar Capon

Kent Carlson, VP NAB Churches, Folsom, CA

“The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ” by Fleming Rutledge

Charles Stevens, Lead Pastor, New Life Ministries, Sacramento, CA

“Letters to the Church” by Francis Chan

Banning Liebscher, Lead Pastor, Jesus Culture, Folsom, CA

“Rooted: The Hidden Places Where God Develops You” by Banning Liebscher

I couldn’t read what I wrote down for Banning, so I put his book in, I hear it is excellent!

Eric Von Schoonhoven, Lead Pastor, The Bridge Church, Glendale, AZ

“Deep and Wide” by Andy Stanley

Stephen Füssle Lead Pastor at The Awakening Church Maui, Hawaii

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It Kindle Edition by Chris Voss & Tahl Raz