We, here at ServeHQ, are big fans of helping your people grow and develop their skills, knowledge, and wisdom. While we believe in the power of video to help people learn, there is just too much valuable teaching between the covers of great books to leave reading out of the training equation.
Reading together, rather than just encouraging your church staff to read something helpful, has a ton of benefits, both for the leader and for the team.
By far, the most popular method for helping your church leaders grow is to read a book together. That’s pretty reasonable, too. The amount of wisdom packed between the binder of a good book can be vast!
Why Reading Together with Your Church Staff Works So Well
Reading together lets people do the learning on their own time instead of forcing learning to happen in groups. When people read at home, they show up to meetings prepared for discussion or putting what they learned to action.
Also, as a leader, you can “defer” hard teachings to a book author at times when it would be difficult for you to teach the same thing to your team. For example, coaching your team to set “Big Hairy Audacious Goals” might cause eye-rolls, but reading about BHAGS from Jim Collins’ experience is a different story.
Finally, reading together syncs your team around a single topic. Everyone’s mind will be dwelling on the subject of the current book. That means better collaboration and getting more from the book’s content because it’s part of everyone’s consciousness.
What Books to Read Together with Your Church Staff
Choosing the right book for your team can be tough. There are several factors to consider:
- Who is on your team and what are they struggling with?
- What is your team’s culture and what authors will fit?
- What do you believe, both ecclesiological and theological, and what books align with or challenge those beliefs?
- What books are fresh and address current cultural issues?
- Where do you want to go and what books are poised to take you there?
- How much time can your team commit to reading?
I did some Google searches for you. There are almost as many lists of leadership books as there are actual books.
So, instead of creating one more list of books, I decided it would be better to share a couple of the best ones with you. First, from our blog, we published 58 Practical Examples of Church Leadership Development Curriculum and included a couple dozen books. Those books are broken down into growth stage for each leader.
For a smaller, more focused list, I love the Church Fuel list at 7 of the Best Leadership Books to Read with Your Staff because it’s concise and the books are truly the best out there.
The Next Challenge: Keeping Track of Who’s Reading
Doling out book reading assignments in a staff meeting is good, but it’s not very helpful without accountability to know that your team is actually doing the reading.
Staff meeting discussions are poor measures of who is and isn’t reading. It’s easy for a staff person to remain under the radar during a staff meeting conversation if they haven’t read the book.
My preferred method for keeping track of who’s reading the assigned books is to use a TrainedUp course in my account. With the course, I can know who’s reading and test their comprehension of each chapter. I’ll show you how.
Using TrainedUp to Track Reading Assignments for Church Staff
Inside TrainedUp, you can create any number of courses. Reading assignments are perfect for TrainedUp courses. Here’s how I have mine setup.
When I assign a book for my staff or team to read, I also create a course for that book in TrainedUp. I add the book title as the title of the course, upload the book cover image for the course image, and add a brief description of the book. I always add a link to buy the exact book on Amazon to make sure we all have the same version.
Here’s how it looks once it’s set up.
The course only takes a couple minutes to set up, but once that’s done I start adding modules.
Each module is a chapter or section of the book. Each book will be a little different since some books have very small chapters inside of larger sections.
For each module, I give it a title matching its corresponding chapter and then I add 2-3 questions that are relevant to that chapter. This makes it easy for my team to keep track of what they’re reading and gives me the ability to verify that they did, indeed, read the chapter.
Now that you have your course set up, it’s time to invite your team. The easiest way to get your team started is by sharing the course link with them directly by email.
Right below the course image, you should see a button that says Copy Course Link. Clicking that will copy the course link to your clipboard so you can paste it into an email body.
Your team will click the link and be able to login and start answering your questions.
I’ve used this method with a lot of success. It takes a little getting used to in the beginning while your team adjusts to the accountability. However, once they realize how seriously you take group reading assignments, they’ll get the hang of it.
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