Friday Fives: The Top Five Underrated Books

This edition of Friday Fives is the third in a series on “The Underrated.” To get caught up on the background, see the first post in the series and the second. Since is dedicated to providing helps and support for church lay leaders, pastors, ministers, Sunday School teachers and small group leaders, this Friday Fives brings you the top five books for leaders. Of course underrated implies that they are helpful/important/worth your time without getting the kind of accolades of a “Purpose Driven Life” or “Crazy Love.”

I haven’t included any version of the Bible, of course, which is both the most important book ever written AND acknowledged as such by even the most sour on religion.

On to this list. (Click on the link for more information or to purchase your copy.)



5. The Francis A. Schaeffer Trilogy

I know I know, you hate philosophy. Hated it in college and hate it now.

The problem with that approach is that understanding something of the connection between philosophy and theology can be surprisingly helpful in preaching the unadulterated Word to an adulterated world. In fact, a gap in understanding how thought works can represent a gap in the relevance of a particular message. And if there is one philosophy book that can truly challenge you to think while teaching you important ideas at the same time, it’s this one, which combines the three Schaeffer classics. I’m not saying you’ll always agree with Schaeffer, yet I can’t help thinking he’s a kind of 20th century Apostle Paul of thought. Thus, it makes the list.



4. Leading in a Culture of Change

Perhaps the most important under-the-radar leadership book. In fact, I’m often asked – “If I only wanted to read one leadership book…” – and it’s very common for me to recommend Michael Fullan’s. It’s short, accessible and gets to the heart of the matter on leadership by centering on values – even morals – and change, which is really at the heart of all leadership.

If you care about leading effectively, it’s a great resource, and very underrated.



3. Night of the Living Dead Christian

By Matt Mikalatos, this one’s underrated on two levels. It’s funnier than you’ll expect and more thought-provoking. No, it’s not the book I would write, but it’s creative, teaches effective story telling (I always pay attention to how a writer is building the narrative.) and carries a message believers need to hear. I actually found it better than his more famous book, Imaginary Jesus.



2. Chicken Soup for the Soul

Number 2 without apology.

Surprised? There are about a hundred versions of this book by now – it was first published in 1993 – and in fact it’s become its own conglomerate. Yet it is such a valuable resource for stories, hundreds and hundreds of stories if you collect a few of the books. And, as I’ve written many many times, other than his faithfulness to Scripture, a preacher’s stories can be his most valuable tool. I had a person remind me of a story I told from the pulpit 20 years ago and the impact it had on his understanding of Scripture. That was a Chicken Soup story.



1. Death by Meeting

Yep. Number 1.

Have you ever stopped to think how much time you spend in meetings? If you tracked them specifically I’m guessing you would even surprise yourself. This book is number one on the list because: 1) The efficiency of most meetings is underwhelming. 2) The amount of time we spend in meetings is largely unproductive. 3) This book’s potential to help solve that problem is underrated.

I have probably adopted more helpful practices from this book than any other not-necessarily-Christian work. Trust me.