For most of the population, summer reading evokes lazy days at the beach with a good novel or cracking a cozy mystery in the light of a campfire. But we know that the warmer days of summer aren’t always the harbinger of family vacations and looser schedules for pastors and church leaders. There are programs to evaluate, fresh vision to cast and fall ministry launches to plan. While we hope you make time to dip into a favorite book by the pool this summer, we wanted to create a summer reading guide that might equip you better for the season ahead than the latest bestseller. The 10-book summer reading guide was curated by our EFCA East staff from some of the best books we’ve read recently.

Working The Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity by Eugene Peterson

Preaching, teaching and administration – that’s often what the pastor focuses on … and collapses under! Those are the three lines that make up the triangle of a pastor’s ministry. However, Peterson calls us not to focus on the lines, as much as “the angles.” A triangle isn’t about lines, but angles. The three angles he calls the pastor to focus on are prayer, Scripture and spiritual direction. Get the angles right and the lines will always be straight! Great yearly read. – Tony Balsamo, District Superintendent

Spiritual Leadership: Moving People On To God’s Agenda by Henry and Richard Blackaby

Spiritual Leadership throughout the years has been an extremely useful tool to me. I first discovered it as a corporate executive, to help me biblically navigate leadership within the marketplace. Over the years, I have also applied its principals as a leader within the Body of Christ. In both areas of influence, I’ve encouraged those I’ve lead to add this valuable resource to their own treasured toolbox. Today, I would suggest the same for you. – Cedrick Brown, District Superintendent

Embracing the New Samaria: Opening Our Eyes To Our Multiethnic Future by Alejandro Mandes

Mandes is EFCA Executive Director of the All People Initiative. This 2021 release helps us understand how we can fulfill God’s great commission, God’s commandments, and establish great community. With the ultimate goal of unity, this book will help you to consider new ways to do church that accommodates multiethnicity, community development, and theological diversity. It gave me a new vision of how embracing heaven on earth looks like reaching all nations with God’s gospel and love. – Jose Torres, All Nations Ministry Director

Live No Lies: Recognize and Resist The Three Enemies That Sabotage Your Peace by John Mark Comer

This is a challenging book that, in very practical and theologically sound ways, looks at the devil’s strategy in seeking to trip up believers. He sows deceptive ideas (the Devil) that play to disordered desires (the Flesh) that are normalized in a sinful society (the World). (Page 57). I found myself examining my own life as I worked my way through this book. – Jack Kroeze, Pastor Support Director

Family Discipleship: Leading Your Home Through Time, Moments and Milestones by Matt Chandler and Adam Griffin

We have two younger kids and recently woke up to the fact that the discipleship efforts in our own home were taking a backseat to shepherding the congregation my husband leads. Emerging from survival mode can be difficult and we both found Family Discipleship to be practical and inspiring. This isn’t a “do these specific steps and you’ll have discipling your kids covered” type book. Instead, Chandler and Griffin lay out three simple areas families can and should make intentional choices to develop a sustainable rhythm of  discipleship. Family Discipleship has prompted many good conversations and we’ve already seen fruit from a couple things we implemented immediately which was encouraging. This would be an excellent gift for parent/child dedication, if your church does such a thing. – Emily Gardner, Communications Director

The Five Dysfunctions Of A Team by Patrick Lencioni

This book is a little different from most of the leadership books that make their rounds in the church world. It’s written as a parable of sorts. And it is a great tool to read and work through with your team. Our staff team took a chapter a week and had a facilitator help us make applications to our current leadership teams and culture. Listen, the church, in general, can do better when it comes to creating healthy leadership structures with healthy teams. Our leadership cultures should be a light in a dark world not the next headline in Christianity Today. This book will help you navigate some of the biggest and most fruitful challenges you will face: healthy teams and leadership culture. – Josh Ott, Strategy Specialist

Dangerous Calling: Confronting The Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry by Paul David Tripp

Paul Tripp has written the best book I have found on the “dangerous calling” of pastoral ministry. Paul sums up his book best when he says in the introduction, “This book is written to confront the issue of the often unhealthy shape of pastoral culture and to put on the table the temptations that are either unique to or intensified by pastoral ministry.” He goes on to say, “This is a book of warning that calls you to humble self-reflection and change. It is written to make you uncomfortable, and to motivate you toward change.” And that is exactly what this book did to me. This book was not only life-impacting the first time I read it but it has also impacted me every time I’ve picked it up again. – Steve Santos, Pastor Support Associate

When To Walk Away: Finding Freedom From Toxic People by Gary Thomas

This book has been very helpful in identifying who might be a toxic person in my life and the somewhat surprising way Jesus responded to toxic people in His life. Seeing and practicing Jesus’ example has been both instructive and liberating (as the subtitle implies). – John Nesbitt, Operations Director

The Grasshopper Myth: Big Churches, Small Churches, and The Small Thinking That Divides Us by Karl Vaters

The Grasshopper Myth speaks to the challenges of pastoring a small church and the differences between large church and small church thinking. Vaters takes on some of the unbiblical beliefs we’ve held about church growth, church size and God’s will for the last several decades. My favorite quote in Karl’s book is, “Stop being upset about what I’m not and start discovering and enjoying who I am.” – Randy Hunt, Pastor Support Associate

The Local Church: What It Is and Why It Matters For Every Christian by Edward W. Klink III

Klink makes a compelling case for why the church is essential in the lives of every professing Christian. It is a timely book as so many struggle to return to church post-covid or simply understand the nature of God’s plan to build a people for himself rather than simply individual Christians. Klink goes beyond the discussion of “we are better together” and delves into the essence of the Christian faith in Christ, namely the local church. – Paulo Freire, Credentialing Specialist

Have you read any of these or anything good lately? Drop your own recommendations in the comments below!


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Emily Gardner

Emily Gardner

Communications Director at EFCA East
Emily has been the Communications Director here at EFCA East since 2016. She got her start in social media managing the accounts for The Donut Man, an amazing donut shop in Southern California. She lives in upstate NY with her pastor husband and two kiddos. In the summer, you'll most likely find them checking off another high peak in the Adirondacks.
Emily Gardner

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  1. John Kuvakas John Kuvakas on June 1, 2022 at 9:23 am

    Great list! Tripp’s book is a must read. I also hihgly recommend Voddie Baucham’s “Fault Lines” and, along those same lines, Jonathan Leeman’s “How the Nations Rage”.

    • EFCA East EFCA East on June 1, 2022 at 1:06 pm

      Thanks for these additional recommendations John!

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