Published: 5 months ago

Danny Recommends: Books To Read With Your Volunteers

Every so often we dip our toes into a series called Danny Recommends:, posts that tip you off to the stuff that I…you know. The recommendations might be products for use in your ministry, resources that will help you develop leaders around you, or just fun stuff that you need. Want. Whatever. You can also see a full list of recommended books and such over at the Reading List. For other posts in the series, check out the link at the bottom.

If Oprah has taught us anything, it’s that there is power in a book club.

People who gather to read and discuss books are a force to be reckoned with. They are challenged by new ideas. They gain insights they wouldn’t normally have. They’re inspired to try new things.

By reading books together, you have the benefit of an author who points out things you may not see and highlights team dynamics that may otherwise be taboo to talk about. A good author is able to pull back the curtain, lift off the muzzle, and get conversation flowing.

It’s the power of a book that raised the question from Michael Morrison, Connections Minister at Cross Community Church in Port Royal, SC. Michael was a part of our 2018 Connections Confab, so he had his share of books dumped on him. He was also able to witness our High-Capacity Volunteer Cohort, a gathering centered around new books and new ideas. Michael asked:

I am going to start getting my ministry team leaders together once a month to discuss a book on discipleship or leadership. I know of one book called People Are the Mission (haha) but I wonder if you could give me any more suggestions.

Can I give suggestions on books? That’s like asking Taylor Swift if she’s got opinions on ex-boyfriends. Yes she does, and yes I can.

But before I get there, here’s something else that Danny recommends: this post is dropping in mid-November, which means you should consider picking up some of these titles as Christmas gifts for your volunteers or staff team. Wrap ’em up nice and challenge them to read those with you in 2019. That way you get to play Oprah at Christmas (“You get a book! And you get a book! Everybody gets a book!”), and nobody ends up with teardrops on their guitar (that’s old school TSwift, baby).

For the sake of some eye candy, here’s a visual catalog where you can just click and order from Amazon. But scroll down to see my take on each of these 17 titles:

Best books to discuss guest services:

  • Be Our Guest (Theodore Kinni) This is my long-standing #1 recommendation when it comes to guest services outside the walls of the church. Nobody does it better than Disney, and the folks at Disney Institute walk you through their process.
  • The Come Back Effect (Jason Young and Jonathan Malm) I was very excited to see this book drop earlier this year, and many of my leaders will be receiving copies to read and discuss in early 2019. (See my Top Ten Quotes post.)
  • First Impressions (Mark Waltz) Mark is the Godfather of Guest Services. This book brought church hospitality back into the circle of discussion, and the impact it’s had on the way we think through things is incalculable. 
  • The Power of Moments (Chip and Dan Heath) The Heath brothers simply don’t write a bad book. But this one is especially fantastic for those of us in the guest services world. Since this book debuted in 2017, I have read through it with no fewer than five groups of people, and I’m about to roll it out to two more groups. (See my Top Ten Quotes post.)

Best books to discuss volunteer culture:

  • Connect (Nelson Searcy) No one does systems better than Searcy, and this book takes readers step-by-step through creating a healthy culture for raising up new volunteers.
  • Disney U (Doug Lipp) If no one does guest services better than Disney, it stands to reason that they’re pretty good at training their cast members on how to deliver a consistently magical experience.
  • Switch (Chip and Dan Heath) Again with the Heath brothers? Yes ma’am. Switch may still hold the record for my most-recommended and most-given away book in terms of changing a broken culture…or even convincing yourself to wake up and go to the gym. 

Best books to develop your volunteers into leaders:

  • Dare to Serve (Cheryl Bachelder) Cheryl was the CEO of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen for a decade. In Dare to Serve she unpacks the changes made during her tenure, and shows how the best leaders take on the posture of servant.
  • Designed to Lead (Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck) The church should churn out the best leaders in our culture. Eric and Kevin have done a masterful job of showing how every believer has been gifted to step up and step out in faith. (See my Top Ten Quotes post.)
  • How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge (Clay Scroggins) Here’s the thing about volunteers…they usually have someone bossing them around. However, that doesn’t mean they’re not leaders. (See my Top Ten Quotes post.)

Best books to shape your team dynamics:

  • Creativity, Inc. (Ed Catmull) Pixar has turned out some of the most delightfully imaginative movies of the last two decades, but they’re not all about spacemen and scream factories. It takes teamwork to pull those masterpieces together. (See my Top Ten Quotes post.)
  • The Decision Maker (Dennis Bakke) Many of us get stuck by not knowing where the buck stops. Bakke’s book resets thinking on releasing decisions to those who need to make them.
  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (Patrick Lencioni) I know of no other book that will get your team talking faster than this one. Lencioni’s parable says the hard stuff that opens doors to better communication.

Best books to grow your team spiritually:

  • A Praying Life (Paul Miller) I have never been a good prayer. But Miller’s part-memoir, part-instruction manual forever changed the way I thought about the time I spend talking to God.
  • The Rest of God (Mark Buchanan) If your volunteers struggle with downtime, Buchanan’s book will help them see how rest is some of the most important work we’ll ever do.
  • Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Donald S. Whitney) I’ve used Spiritual Disciplines in multiple environments to help people see how our lives are shaped and formed by intentional steps.
  • The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb (Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel) Serving can be seductive. Each chapter is a loving rebuke and a gentle reminder to seek the approval of one person…the one who embodied Kingdom power rather than earthly power. (See my Top Ten Quotes post.)

See all posts in the Danny Recommends: series.

Disclaimer: FTC watchdogs will probably want to know that the companies or products listed / linked above did not ask for this endorsement, nor did they provide me with free swag in order to do so. I’m just a really satisfied customer who wants to let you know where you can get some great products. So there. Further, if you order a resource from a link on this page, I may receive a small affiliate commission from Amazon. If that bugs you, feel free to bypass my link and buy from a vendor of your choice. But still: buy it. I only promote items that have benefitted me and that I believe will benefit you.

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