Study tools for the theological student

Taking the step to further your theological education is a big decision. ChristianWeek asked seminary leaders across Canada: "Other than the Bible, what book would you most recommend for someone considering church leadership?"

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For those venturing into church leadership, I would highly recommend A Work of Heart: Understanding How God Shapes Spiritual Leaders by Reggie McNeal.

McNeal emphasizes that the primary shaping of spiritual leaders occurs at the heart level as leaders respond to God's work in their lives. As leaders partner with God in this heart work, they are better able to engage the hearts of others as they live out God's call on their lives. McNeal highlights key principles of this work of heart as seen in the lives of Moses, David, Paul and Jesus.

Randy Wollf, chair of Master of Divinity program

ACTS Seminaries, Langley, BC

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Because I teach evangelism and mission, I would recommend Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults by Christian Smith with Patricia Snell. It is essential reading for people who are considering church leadership. It is easy for church leaders today to be somewhat insulated from the changes taking place in our culture. This book provides an academically rigorous basis for understanding the spiritual lives of contemporary young adults. Such understanding can help us to communicate biblical truth effectively in our changing society.

Steve McMullin, associate professor of Evangelism and Mission

Acadia Divinity College, Wolfville, NS

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I have recommended and used Leadership on the Line, by Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky. It challenges some of the longstanding assumptions about how leadership is best pursued.

One example: rather than solving the problem for the people, good leadership views the "people with the problem as also the people with the solution." These two writers also popularized the phrase, "viewing the situation from the balcony." Lest we dismiss this resource as merely "from the world," the best chapter is the last one where a secular writer spends time before the cross of Christ. But you have to read the entire book to get to this sacred ending.

Daryl Busby, dean of Canadian Baptist Seminary and director of Doctor of Ministry program, ACTS Seminaries, Langley, BC

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Leadership in the current era has to articulate God's mission, but we often misrepresent it to those in church leadership. We have historically given them superficial answers about the mission of the Church. Leaders must think outside the box but at the same time must focus sharply on the precise reason we have for the mission of God through our churches. Simon Sinek's 2009 book Start with Why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action forces us to look clearly at the core of the message we have to carry. It's a secular text that indeed pushes us beyond our ingrown biases.

Brian F Stelck, president

Carey Theological College, Vancouver, BC

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