church growth books

The 50 Best Church Growth Books You Need to ReadLast Updated: September 5th, 2020

If you’re looking for the best church growth books to take your church to the next level, you’ve come to the right place!

We’re bringing to you our top 50 picks of the best church growth books out there. 

After reading these church growth books, you’ll know: 1) how to diagnose your church’s health, 2) why your church is declining or dying (if it is), and 3) the changes you need to make in order to turn around the decline — or simply get unstuck, grow, and reach more people. 

And much more.

Most of these books on church growth come straight from pastors, leaders, and church growth consultants. They’ll give you tactics that you can apply today to get measurable results within a week — visible in your next Sunday congregation. Each book discusses an aspect of a church that’s tied directly to its growth — from logistics to high-level ideas like rediscovering vision and reaching out with service and love.

There’s always hope for a church. And these church growth books will help you realize just that for your church. Here goes…

Classics & Overviews

Evaluating the Church Growth Movement: Five Views

Birthed and nurtured over the second half of the 20th century, the Church Growth Movement has dramatically influenced the Western church. Whether you’re a fan or a critic of this movement, you can’t deny its impact. In a first-ever roundtable of the movement’s leading voices, this book examines five main perspectives on the classic Church Growth Movement: Effective Evangelism View (Elmer Towns); Gospel in Our Culture View (Craig Van Gelder); Centrist View (Charles Van Engen); Reformist View (Gailyn Van Rheenan); and Renewal View (Howard Snyder). The book concludes with reflections by three seasoned pastors who have grappled with this movement’s practical implications.

Buy this church growth book on Amazon here.

The Book of Church Growth: History, Theology, and Principles

The Church Growth Movement has divided devout Christians. Many criticize it as being overly pragmatic and often ignoring theology as it emphasizes numerical growth. Even though author Thom Rainer is an advocate, his aim here is to present an objective view of the movement–its history, the theology associated with it, and the principles which seem to separate churches that grow from those that don’t.

Buy this book on Amazon here.

Understanding Church Growth

In this missionary classic first published in 1970, Donald A. McGavran skillfully combines theological convictions, empirical research, sociological principles, and spiritual insights to mold an effective evangelism strategy.

This third edition, revised and edited by C. Peter Wagner, retains the book’s original aim and essence while modernizing the language. 

Buy this book on Amazon here.

Balance: A Tried and Tested Formula for Church Growth

Ira North knew about church growth. Although he died in 1984, North’s name is still synonymous with that of the Madison Church of Christ. His vision helped this church grow from 400 to more than 4,000 members. Growth was a result of North’s application of biblical principles rather than a goal in itself. He famously stated, “God does not require that we be big, or wealthy, or powerful, or super smart. What our Heavenly Father requires is faithfulness.” North’s biblical approach warrants careful examination.

Buy this book on Amazon here.

Getting Started

Lasting Impact

Author Carey Nieuwhof (the lead pastor at the multi-campus Connexus Church, a speaker, and host of The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast), recommends seven tough conversations a local church needs to engage in on its road to thriving. 

Nieuwhof’s premise is that only when churches wrestle with issues around church growth will they succeed. The book shines a light on how the right conversations can change the church’s trajectory. Grappling with straightforward questions like “Why are we not growing faster?” and “Why are young people walking away from church?” will point you toward changes you need to make in order to grow.

Buy this church growth book on Amazon here.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Written by Gary L. Mcintosh (author of over twenty books, president of the Church Growth Network, and a professor of Christian ministry and leadership at Talbot School of Theology), this book is all about understanding the differences and similarities between small, medium, and large churches and how they factor into church growth strategies. 

McIntosh divides small churches into three tiers: small, smaller, and smallest — receiving 35, 75, and 200 Sunday visitors respectively. By examining churches by size, the book looks at ways structure, leadership, and growth (obstacles and strategies) work for each.

In many ways, understanding your church is the first step to set you up for growth. And this book helps you with just that.

Buy this church growth book on Amazon here.

Taking Your Church to the Next Level

Another church growth book by Gary L. McIntosh, this one zooms in on a local church’s life cycle, examining issues like age and size, to show you how your church can advance in congregation size.

The subtitle, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, is a reminder that the qualities that brought a church to its current level of ministry fruitfulness will likely not propel it to the next. It becomes increasingly difficult for a church to continually move forward due to a variety of factors. According to McIntosh, “Long term excellence is always the result of continual improvement over time.”

Church leaders, pastors, and all who care about the church and desire to see it experience biblical growth will benefit from the descriptions of fruitfulness, steps to continual improvement, and strategies to diminish destructive forces that distract a congregation from its mission. 

Buy this church growth book on Amazon here.

It: How Churches and Leaders Can Get It and Keep It

When Craig Groeschel founded LifeChurch.tv, the congregation met in a borrowed two-car garage, with substandard furniture and equipment. Nevertheless, people were drawn there, sensing a powerful, life-changing force Groeschel calls “It.”  What is It, and how can you and your ministry get — and keep — It? Groeschel, one of today’s most innovative church leaders, explains how any believer can obtain It, get It back, and guard It.  He describes seven consistent qualities that are almost always present when It is present in a leader or organization: Vision, Focus, Camaraderie, Innovation; Humility, Outreach, and Abundance. Finally, Groeschel explains how to determine whether or not you have It and what to do if you don’t. There is no simple formula, he says. Ultimately, God gives It and you can only have It if you pursue Him—not It. 

Buy this church growth book at Amazon here

The best church growth books on retaining first-time visitors

Fusion

Authors Nelson Searcy (founder of ChurchLeaderInsights.com and the Renegade Pastors Network and the founding and lead pastor of The Journey Church) and Jennifer Dykes Henson (a best-selling author who worked as the marketing communications manager for In Touch Ministries), offer “a step-by-step, biblically grounded, tested, and proven plan” to turn your first-time guests into engaged and loyal church members. 

Churches should not rely on staff to pursue growth. Instead, the authors suggest that churches should view every visitor as a gift from God, apply biblical hospitality, and welcome them to return. The end game? Newcomers sharing in the Gospel and helping other seekers find God. 

This church growth book offers a complete “system of assimilation” to win those first seven minutes in which visitors decide if they want to come back. Dozens of resources to help in this process are provided. 

Buy this book on Amazon here.

Becoming a Welcoming Church

Another one by Thom Rainer, Becoming a Welcoming Church gives you a strategy for removing reasons visitors don’t return a second time. Churches need to identify the specific causal factors, including a bad church website, a not-so-good church experience, unfriendly church members, and a horrible stand-and-greet time.

Rainier challenges you to assess your church and see if it’s indeed as welcoming as you think. He shows you how to view your church from the perspective of newcomers rather than members, who are often blind to the problems. The book includes a game plan for building a welcoming church, drawing suggestions from data collected by actual church visitors.

Buy this church growth book on Amazon here.

The Come Back Effect

Written by Jason Young (the director of guest experience at Buckhead Church and North Point Ministries that averages about 36,000 people in weekly attendance) and Jonathan Malm (an author and a creative entrepreneur reaching more than 70,000 church readers monthly),  The Come Back Effect shows you how to make your church more hospitable to your guests, increasing the likelihood they’ll return. 

Young and Malm help you think “scene by scene” and experience your church as a newcomer, and then suggest ways to create a “come back” effect that will bring people back in droves. Although written primarily for larger churches, this book and the hospitality principles it presents will also be helpful to smaller churches. 

Buy this church growth book on Amazon here.

 

Unwelcome: 50 Ways Churches Drive Away First-Time Visitors

Another book by Jonathan Malm, Unwelcome will show you the results of hosting (or not failing to host) the people God sends to your church. From the obvious to the not-so-obvious, this book delivers exactly what it promises: 50 first-time visitor turnoffs.

These 50 first-time visitor faux pas are organized into five categories: First Impressions, Worship, Programming, Communication, and The Big Picture. Exploring each category from the perspective of the visitor will help you recalibrate your guest experience.

Buy this church growth book on Amazon here.

Grow Your Church

Written by Tracy Barnowe (a renowned church growth expert and an ordained UCC pastor with over 20 years of experience growing churches), this church growth book will help you identify your biggest church growth barrier and “get 85% of your first-time visitors to return.” 

Barnowe demystifies the behavior of first-time visitors and shows you how you can influence it and engage the majority of your first-time visitors to revisit your church. Grow Your Church! provides a procedure you can use to convert one- or two-time visitors into regulars who keep coming back to your church.

When you apply these principles, Barnowe says, you should be able to see results within a week. 

Buy this church growth book on Amazon here.

Sticky Church (Leadership Network Innovation Series)

Written by Larry Osborne (a nationally recognized coach for pastors and a teaching pastor at North Coast Church — one of America’s most influential churches — who helped oversee the church’s growth from 120 to a whopping 12,000+ in weekend attendance), this book shows you how to solve the problem of the “back door” of your church and make it “stickier” and “healthier.” 

Osborne explains that the back door needs attention because “If the back door of a church is left wide open, it doesn’t matter how many people are coaxed to come in the front door—or the side door, for that matter.” 

To help you close the back door of your church, Osborne suggests following the small group ministry model:  connecting with newcomers and encouraging them to commit to their small groups (and, in turn, your church). 

Buy this church growth book here.

Preaching Killer Sermons

Written by Lane Sebring (a pastor, speaker, and the person behind the website PreachingDonkey.com), this Preaching Killer Sermons helps you prepare and deliver messages that engage your attendees and motivate them to return to your church each Sunday.

Sebring first walks you through the anatomy of a boring sermon and discusses how you can be bad at the art of preaching. And then he details steps you need to take to deliver a winning sermon. 

From helping you find the time it takes to prepare for a good sermon delivery to finding a rhythm when preaching to being totally present from the opening prayer to ending on a high, this young minister coaches you into being a great communicator — one who delivers life-changing messages that inspire your congregation to revisit every week.

Buy this church growth book on Amazon here.

The best church growth books on getting to the next level, revitalizing, and making a comeback

Comeback Churches

Author Ed Stetzer (Dean of the School of Mission, Ministry, and Leadership at Wheaton College, prolific author and speaker) has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, and trained pastors and church planters on six continents. Stetzer, with co-author, Pastor Mike Dodson, reports on formerly declining congregations across ten different denominations. This exceptionally researched book tells data-backed stories of 300 churches that reversed their decline and emerged stronger.

Comeback Churches will help you measure the pulse of your church by monitoring its “health metrics” (stats like baptismal ratios and attendance figures), comparing them to benchmarks, then using information gleaned from actual churches to chart a revitalization course. 

Buy this church growth book on Amazon here.

Autopsy of a Deceased Church

Another top church growth book from author Thom Rainer, Autopsy of a Deceased Church presents

ten themes that characterized 14 failing churches.

Rainier analyzes why churches die and also explains exactly what you need to do to keep yours alive. 

If your church seems to show nascent signs of sickness and you diagnose it to be “a little sick, a lot sick, or about to die,” use Rainer’s advice to work towards recovering.

Buy this church growth book on Amazon here.

Anatomy of a Revived Church

A sequel to Autopsy of a Deceased Church, Autopsy of a Revived Church is another useful church growth book from author Thom Rainer. It presents seven themes that Rainer’s research found in hundreds of churches that avoided death and lived.  

This church growth book explores the anatomy of churches that revitalized themselves by choosing to change rather than die. Rainer also introduces you to the vital changes you’ll need to make if you happen to be leading a dying church.

Buy this church growth book on Amazon here.

The Unstuck Church: Equipping Churches to Experience Sustained Health

Written by Tony Morgan (a top church leader and the chief strategic officer of The Unstuck Group – a church growth consultancy), this church growth book will help you build (and sustain) a healthy church.

This church growth book walks you through the seven phases of a local church’s life cycle:  1) Launch, 2) Momentum, 3) Strategic Growth, 4) Sustained Health, 5) Maintenance, 6) Preservations, and 7) Life Support High-level. Morgan then provides practical steps to  “unstick” your church and keep growing.

Buy this church growth book on Amazon here.

Re:Vision: The Key to Transforming Your Church

Authors Aubrey Malphurs (church leadership expert, and senior professor of leadership and pastoral ministry at Dallas Theological Seminary) and Gordon E. Penfold (a veteran pastor with over 35 years of experience), revisit the role of a pastor in revitalizing a church. 

Malphurs and Penfold demystify the idea of turnaround pastors who change the trajectory of their churches, leading them away from decline and toward success. 

Shining light on the significance of pastoral vision in the growth (or decline) of a church, ReVision is a great read for every pastor, since most churches need some kind of renewal all the time. This is also an especially inspiring read for young pastors who desire to become visionary. 

Buy this church growth book on Amazon here.

How to Break Growth Barriers 

Written by Carl F. George (former president of the American Society for Church Growth and one of North America’s top church growth consultants) and Warren Bird, this church growth book shows you how to lead your congregation into “the paradigms necessary for potentially limitless growth.” 

Deftly blending the science and spirit of church growth, How to Break Growth Barriers can lead you from your current situation to attracting your first 200, 400, 600, 800 (and more) attendees, smashing all the growth barriers that get in the way. 

Packed with principles and processes to help a church grow, this book challenges the traditional role of a pastor and proposes that it should change from being a “primary caregiver” to a “coach” — one who actively develops more lay leaders.

Buy this church growth book on Amazon here.

Scrappy Church: God’s Not Done Yet

Another church growth book by Thom Rainer, Scrappy Church is all about “you” vs. all the other churches (the megachurches, the new and very-well funded church in your area, “that” church trying to break into your visitors and others). It sets you up for a “scrappy church revolution” and helps you develop the right attitude for growth and making a comeback.

Specially written for struggling and small churches, this isn’t your typical church growth book. Instead, it’s an entreaty full of conversations, interviews, and comments from churches that took the scrappy approach and improved their health.  

This church growth book shows how you can — even without the best location, facilities, and financial assistance — revitalize your church, and how churches that make a comeback are scrappy and do what’s necessary to turn things around.

Buy this church growth book on Amazon here.

Move: What 1,000 Churches Reveal About Spiritual Growth

One of the church’s primary responsibilities is to foster genuine spiritual growth in people’s lives. Today’s pastors bring tremendous effort and passion to this task, but they are often disappointed by people who sit in the pews for years, knowing about Jesus but never really knowing him. The crux of spiritual growth is not how busy people are with spiritual activities but how engaged they are with Christ. Using the results of the multi-denominational REVEAL survey, authors Hawkins and Parkinson demonstrate how to assess a person’s level of intimacy with Christ and identify the spiritual catalysts that move them from one level to the next. The local church is uniquely equipped to foster spiritual growth and challenge people to pursue a life of full devotion to Christ. 

Buy this church growth book on Amazon here.

The best church growth books focusing on the logistics

 

What Every Pastor Should Know

Another one by Gary L Mcintosh and Charles Arn (professor of Christian ministry at Wesley Seminary, Indiana Wesleyan University, and president of Church Growth, Inc.), this church growth book empowers the pastors and leaders of a church with 101 “sacred” laws that help them answer the most pressing questions around logistics. These are ones they wrestle with all the time like “How much staff does the church need?” or “How do seating and parking impact worship attendance?” 

McIntosh and Arn go beyond logistics to help pastors and leaders provide good “church experiences” — something that determines whether or not a visitor will return the following Sunday. 

Packed with rules about evangelism, outreach, visitors, worship, engagement, small groups, education, care, volunteerism, program, staff, facilities, finances, and revitalization, this is an indispensable reference book for any church that wants to build an evergreen infrastructure that inspires generation after generation.

Buy this church growth book on Amazon here.

Simple Church: Returning to God’s Process for Making Disciples

Another classic from Thom Rainer, this church growth book builds upon its research that found the healthiest churches “have a simple process for making disciples.” Co-authored by Eric Geiger (executive pastor of the multicultural church, Christ Fellowship), Simple Church shows you how you can bring simplicity to spirituality by working on clarity, movement, alignment, and focus — and by designing a simpler discipleship process. 

Primarily written to church leaders who are in a position to influence a church’s structure, this book deconstructs the idea of a simple church and forces you to consider what you need in terms of your church structure while letting go of anything that adds unnecessary overhead.

This book will help you beat ministry schizophrenia and free up time from “management” so you can focus on building an environment conducive to spiritual growth.  

Buy this church growth book on Amazon here.

Future Church: 7 Laws of Church Growth

Church growth models have often been long on promises and short on disciple-making. As we watch church attendance shrink, our desire to reach the lost is infected with a need for self-validation by growing our numbers at any cost. If we believe that God wants his church to grow, where do we go from here? What is the future of the church?

Drawing from his 20 years and 15,000 hours of consulting, author Will Mancini shares with pastors and ministry leaders the single most important insight he has learned about church growth. With stories based on the disciple-making methods found in Scripture, Future Church exposes the church’s greatest challenge today and offers seven transforming laws of real church growth so that we can faithfully and joyfully fulfill Jesus’s Great Commission.

Buy this church growth book at Amazon here.

The best church growth books on going all out

 

Unreasonable Churches

Another highly-rated church growth book from Rich Birch, Unreasonable Churches tells the stories of ten churches that challenged the status quo and used unconventional methods for fundraising, connecting, discipleship, outreach, and more, resulting in growth. 

This church growth book takes you on the journey of the churches that took unfamiliar routes — from a dwindling 192-year-old church that donated its assets to a young church plant but still impacted a generation, to one that chooses to stay on throughout the week (instead of just Sundays). Birch shows you how you, too, could choose to be unreasonable and break your church’s growth barriers.

Buy this church growth book on Amazon here.

Breakout Churches

Written by Thom Rainer (a best selling author, church growth consultant, and CEO of Church Answers — a church growth community), this church growth book helps you discover “how to make the leap” and transition from mediocrity to unprecedented growth.

Rainier shows you how to grow your church, drawing on data from a landmark study of thousands of churches. Focusing on the growth stories of thirteen churches that achieved breakout success, the book examines data-based growth practices.

This church growth handbook shines light on the pastor as the hero who works relentlessly to take their static or declining congregation and guide it toward becoming a thriving community.

Buy this church growth book on Amazon here.

The best church growth books with a focus on digital

The Digital Cathedral

Written by Keith Anderson (pastor of Upper Dublin Lutheran Church, an ordained Lutheran minister, a speaker, and an expert at using social media and digital channels for growing a church), this church growth book helps you “imagine a model for ministry in a digitally integrated world.”

Filled with suggestions for a 21st-century ministry, this church growth book shares a vision of a church where ministries proactively use the digital environment to reach more people and leverage the “God on tap” culture. 

While this book on church growth is all about using digital channels, it’s in no way an endorsement for a solely online church that tweets, goes live on Facebook, and posts on Instagram. Instead, it’s about how the “sacred space” looks now… and how to perceive it with fresh eyes and move into a new season when the faithful seek fellowship and connection online as well as in person.

Buy this church growth book on Amazon here.

Church Growth Flywheel

Written by Rich Birch (a bestselling author with over 20 years in church leadership roles), this church growth book gives you five actionable and repeatable growth systems that you can instantly use to grow your church and build momentum. 

Birch provides strategic growth systems — Big Days are a Big Deal, Leveraging Series Roll-Out Rhythms, Social Media & Content, Community Engagement, and Internal Communication —  and shows how to leverage those special “Sundays” at your church. He also gives advice on using episodic delivery styles, building engagement with social media and content, fostering community engagement, and encouraging regular attendees to invite their friends. 

Buy this church growth book on Amazon here.

Rebooting.Church: The Future of Church – “Digital Church” – Starts Here 

Using layman’s language and clear examples to illustrate complex concepts, author Walter Franklin Davis wrote Rebooting.Church (rebooting-dot-church) to help churches find, attract and retain new members by offering engaging, interactive content and activities, both online and offline. The key to success for church leaders in growing their churches is to “Think Outside of the Church” when it comes to the changes necessary to transform their churches to meet the needs and desires of a 21st-Century digital world.

Buy this church growth book at Amazon here.

Targeting Specific Audiences

Deep and Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend 

Nearly 2,000 years ago, Jesus started a movement that has grown like wildfire throughout history. Author and pastor Andy Stanley draws from Scripture and over 25 years of pastoral experience to bring to life the irresistible nature of this movement known as the Church. According to Stanley, “…the church is the local expression of the presence of Jesus…and since people who were nothing like Jesus liked Jesus, they should like us as well. There should be nothing about us that causes them to gather at the periphery and stare.”  Based on Stanley’s experience as lead pastor of the Northpoint Church, Deep & Wide reflects careful internal research on the church’s effectiveness.

Buy this church growth book at Amazon here

Growing Young: 6 Essential Strategies to Help Young People Discover and Love Your Church 

Author Kara Powell (Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary) observes that churches are both shrinking and aging as more young people disengage. Based on groundbreaking research with over 250 of the nation’s leading congregations, Powell provides a strategy any church can use to involve and retain young people. It profiles innovative churches engaging 15- to 29-year-olds that are growing–spiritually, emotionally, missionally, and numerically. Growing Young shows ministry leaders how to position their churches to reach younger generations in a way that breathes life into the whole church.

Buy this church growth book at Amazon here

Why Men Hate Going to Church

David Murrow, a television producer and writer, noticed a disturbing trend: churches are losing their men and boys. So he started doing some research, which led to his first book, Why Men Hate Going to Church, in which he identifies the barriers to male participation and explains why it’s so hard to motivate the men who do go to church. Murrow points to four categories of church elements that clash with the temperament of most unchurched men: Church makes men feel uncomfortable because it emphasizes feminine values. Church forces men to do things that they find uncomfortable. Men assume that church will require them to give up masculine traits. And church does not present a compelling model of leadership. Murrow then examines several rapidly-expanding congregations that are growing – by winning the hearts of men and boys.

Buy this church growth book at Amazon here

Organic Church: Growing Faith Where Life Happens

Neil Cole, a key catalyst in the organic church movement, is the founder and executive director of Church Multiplication Associates and CMAResources, which has helped launch hundreds of churches in thirty-five states and thirty nations. In Organic Church, Cole describes the organic church model, recounting his experience, outlining principles for church planters, and supporting these principles with Scripture. Cole provides five principles for starting churches that reproduce. He bases them on Matthew 10 and Luke 10: the practice of prayer; pockets of people (finding a receptive Oikos [“household”], which Cole defines loosely as a basic social unit); the power of presence (“showing up”); a person of peace (finding someone who can reach an entire Oikos); and a people of purpose (people who have had the gospel injected into their community rather than people who have been drawn out of their community).

Buy this church growth book at Amazon here

8 Innovations to Leading Millennials: How Millennials Can Grow Your Church and Change the World

By 2030, Millennials will represent 75% of the global workforce. Will they represent 75% of your church? Born in 1982, Windle sits on the boundary between Generation X and the Millennials. “While I don’t completely fit in either generation,” he says, “my age gives me a unique insight into both.” True Millennials and Generation Z have only ever known a digital world. Their worldview starts at a very different place than all other generations. The world has fundamentally changed. Millennials, he says, are educated. Cause-driven. Mission focused. Deep thinkers. His 80-page guide provides solutions to leading them in eight areas, including the use of technology and social media, relational leadership style, collaborative organization structure, dynamic program and events, depth in spiritual discipleship, facilities that represent your culture, leadership in finances, and emphasis on social rather than political engagement. 

Buy this church growth book at Amazon here

Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World

James Emery White, the author of The Rise of the Nones, offers an introduction to Generation Z, those born between 1993 and 2012. Making up more than 25 percent of the U.S. population, this is the first truly post-Christian generation; they’re expected to challenge every church to rethink its role in a rapidly changing culture. White explains who this generation is, how it came to be, and the impact it is likely to have on the nation and the faith. He argues that today’s Christian leaders would do well to embrace the countercultural model of the early to reach members of Generation Z with the gospel. 

Buy this church growth book at Amazon here

The best church growth books on holding firmly to orthodoxy

Disappearing Church: From Cultural Relevance to Gospel Resilience

How do we love and serve our culture as it shifts to a post-Christian worldview – and remains a creative minority that steadfastly abides in the truth of the cross? Mark Sayers, the senior leader of Red Church in Melbourne, Australia, weaves together art, history, and theology to explain how real growth happens when the church embraces its countercultural witness, not when it blends in. As Jesus said long ago, “If the salt loses its saltiness, it is no longer good for anything…”

Ultimately, Sayers’s confidence is in King Jesus. For all its sociology and cultural insights, Disappearing Church is a Christocentric book. The Jesus who was killed outside the city is the Jesus we follow. We don’t expect we’ll get to be cultural winners, only that we’ll endure suffering now and enjoy glory later.

Buy this church growth book at Amazon here. 

Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City 

Founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, Tim Keller is chairman and co-founder of Redeemer City to City, which starts new churches in New York and other global cities. In Center Church, Timothy Keller offers challenging insights and provocative questions based on over twenty years of ministry in New York City. He outlines a theological vision for ministry, applying classic doctrines to our time and place. He frames this discussion around three categories: gospel-centric, city-centric, and movement. Keller defines and explains the gospel and reminds us that it is non-negotiable. He also challenges readers to responsibly interact with the culture, embrace good things within it, and steadfastly apply the gospel to it.

Buy this church growth book at Amazon here

Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples 

Author, pastor, and speaker Francis Chan recently moved to Hong Kong, where he lives and works in Sham Shui Po, the poorest area in Hong Kong. Chan believes that Jesus has invited all of us to be a part of His plan. He has designed all of His people to know His joy as we share His love, spread His Word, and multiply His life among all of the peoples of the earth. We were made to make disciples. 

Chan’s book Multiply, released in 2012, equips readers to carry out Jesus’s ministry. This purpose, Chan argues, is worth investing our lives to seeing accomplished. It’s worth it for billions of people who do not yet know the mercy and majesty of God in Christ. We were made to be disciples who make disciples until the day we see the face of the One we follow. Multiply challenges readers to do what Jesus did: make disciples who make disciples who make disciples …. Until the world knows the truth of Jesus Christ.

Buy this church growth book at Amazon here

Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit

Pastor, speaker, and author Francis Chan says the true source of the church’s power is the Holy Spirit. But, he contends, we’ve ignored the Spirit for far too long, and the results are disastrous. Chan invites readers to understand, embrace, and follow the Holy Spirit’s direction in our lives. We pray in the name of the Father, the Son, and … the Holy Spirit – all three, but how often do we focus on only the first two? 

As Jesus ascended into heaven, He promised to send the Holy Spirit, the Helper, so that we could be true and living witnesses for Christ. Unfortunately, today’s church has admired the gift but neglected to open it. Chan offers practical ways to throw off lukewarm Christianity and embrace full-on, passionate love for God.   

Buy this church growth book at Amazon here.  

The Five-Star Church: Serving God and His People with Excellence

Could the same principles that create a five star hotel be applied to the church and its hospitality? That is the basic structure of the fictional conversation between a pastor and staff and the general manager of a five star hotel, as mapped out in the book The Five Star Church: Serving God and His People with Excellence, by Stan Toler (1950-2017) and Alan Nelson. Utilizing that framework, Toler and Nelson make points of connection of quality, customer service, and exceeding expectation to help a church grow by attracting and connecting first time church visitors with the local church.

Buy this church growth book at Amazon here

The Unbelievable Gospel: Say Something Worth Believing

Speaking of evangelism in The Unbelievable Gospel, Jonathan Dodson says, “Evangelism has become a byword . . . fallen to the wayside in Christian vocabulary.” Dodson, pastor of City Life Church in Austin, Texas, explains why people find the gospel so unbelievable. He expands on gaining a fresh vision of the gospel, handling the gospel in its different forms, and speaking the gospel in cultural key. Dodson, who believes “good evangelism isn’t an all-or-nothing endeavor,” believes that for many today, a presentation of the gospel – that Jesus lived and died and rose for our sins – can come across as abstract and impersonal. Dodson provides an extensive assessment of various evangelism strategies commonly employed today. Whether it’s the Impersonal, Preachy, Intolerant, or Uninformed type of witness to which we’ve all become accustomed, Dodson carefully analyzes how each fails to fruitfully engage the contemporary landscape with the gospel.

Buy this church growth book at Amazon here

Pharisectomy: How to Joyfully Remove Your Inner Pharisee and Other Religiously Transmitted Diseases

Do you have a religiously transmitted disease?  Have you ever wondered how new believers, freshly forgiven, can be so critical – about everything from worship styles to the basics of how to “do church?” In Pharisectomy, unconventional church planter and author Peter Haas encourages anyone who’s ever felt cynical about the church as we know it. Through a series of autopsies, author Peter Haas offers profound biblical insights to point us to our deepest need: a Pharisectomy.

Buy this church growth book at Amazon here

The best church growth books on (biblical) revitalization

Biblical Church Revitalization

Written by Brian Croft (founder of Practical Shepherding and the senior pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky), this church growth book offers the author’s frontline experience revitalizing his church using methods grounded in the gospel. 

Croft offers a revitalization approach that’s both biblical and practical. He explains how God revitalizes a dying church and how a pastor can prepare for and persevere through the revitalization process.

Buy this church growth book on Amazon here.

Revitalize

Written by Andrew M. Davis (pastor of First Baptist Church of Durham, speaker, author, professor, and chairman of the governance committee of the Gospel Coalition), this church growth book offers “biblical keys” to bring your church to life again. 

In Revitalize, Davis tells the story of the revitalization of First Baptist Church of Durham. He outlines fourteen essential lessons for pastors, leaders, and members of churches in need of revitalization. 

Providing biblical lessons on shoring up the deteriorating health of a church, Revitalize offers both spiritual support and practical advice.

Buy this church growth book on Amazon here.

The Gospel-Driven Church

Written by Jared C. Wilson (a pastor and the director of the Pastoral Training Center at Liberty Baptist Church in Kansas City), this book encourages you to concentrate on gospel-centered growth.

Wilson shows you how to reframe your local church’s growth strategy using biblical means rather than the tactics promoted by pragmatism and consumerism. He doesn’t just recommend gospel-centered growth, but gets into the “how.” Wilson debunks the attractional church and the operating system that powers it. And then he explains how to transition away from that model and pursue biblical growth instead. 

Buy this church growth book on Amazon here.

The Purpose Driven Church: Every Church is Big in God’s Eyes 

When Saddleback’s Pastor Rick Warren wrote The Purpose Driven Church in 1995, he knew that in order for a church to be healthy, it needed to focus on God’s purposes, not a pastor’s own idea of ministry. Today, after more than two decades, Purpose Driven principles are still bringing focus and direction to a whole new generation of pastors and church leaders around the world.  Every church, Warren says, is driven by something; tradition, finances, programs, personalities, events, seekers, and even buildings can be the controlling force in a church. But in order for a church to be healthy, it must be built around the five New Testament purposes given to the church by Jesus. Healthy, consistent growth is the result of balancing the five biblical purposes of the church—Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship, Ministry, and Mission, derived from the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37–40) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19–20).

Buy this church growth book at Amazon here

Fresh Wind Fresh Fire: What Happens When God’s Spirit Invades the Hearts of His People

Jim Cymbala, pastor of The Brooklyn Tabernacle, has discovered that God moves in life-changing ways when we set aside our own agendas, take him at his word, and listen for his voice. He began pastoring the Brooklyn Tabernacle with a handful of members meeting in one of America’s toughest neighborhoods. The small group began to pray and hundreds of people were transformed by the love of Christ. Today more than ten thousand people attend weekly services. Central to the growth and outreach of The Brooklyn Tabernacle has been a strong emphasis on prayer, through the Tuesday Night Prayer Meeting and the Prayer Band, which is devoted to interceding for needs from around the world. Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire shows what the Holy Spirit can do when believers get serious about prayer and the gospel.

Buy this church growth book at Amazon here

So that just about wraps up our best church growth books roundup. But we have one final listing for you. Drumroll, please… If you could read only one church growth book, especially if you’re pastoring a small church, make it this one.

The best (and only) church growth book you might ever need…

The Grasshopper Myth

Written by Karl Vaters (a “small church” pastor for 30 years), this inspiring and refreshingly honest church growth book speaks directly to the small churches that make up the majority everywhere, since 80% of U.S. churches have 200 or fewer attending. 

Celebrating small churches, this church growth book tells you that your Sunday attendance isn’t a measure of how successful your church is. It uses the grasshopper analogy to explain how small churches feel about themselves and offers a release from the constant pressure many pastors feel the growth movement pushes upon small and mid-size churches. 

Unlike all the other church growth books on this list, this one delivers a new perspective on the concept — one from the pastor of a small church that stayed small.. Says the author: “I’m a Small Church pastor. And I am not a failure. It’s taken me almost thirty years in pastoral ministry to write those last two sentences...” 

Buy this church growth book on Amazon here.


So there you have them! Fifty of the best church growth books to build a healthy and thriving church and grow both spiritually and numerically. 

Have you read any of these? And did your favorite make it to this list? Do share in the comments!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *