Top Ten Books

Too many books. Not enough time.

I am always asked what my “top ten” books would be for the Christian educator. And I discover this list is always growing. And it depends on what area of ministry. And how new (or experienced) the educator is. There are new books in this field coming out all of the time, but there are classics that I come back to time and again.

I assume that every educator already has the following:

  1. Holy Bible
  2. Book of Worship or Prayer from your denomination
  3. Concordance
  4. Bible dictionary
  5. The Oxford Companion to the Bible

Top Ten Books for the Christian Educator

  1. Bass, Dorothy C., editor. Practicing Our Faith: A Way of Life for a Searching People, 2nd edition (Jossey-Bass, 2010).
  2. Foster, Charles R. Educating Congregations: The Future of Christian Education (Abingdon Press, 1994)
  3. Fowler, James W. Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning (HarperSan Francisco, 1981, updated 1995)
  4. Groome, Thomas H. Sharing Faith: A Comprehensive Approach to Religious Education & Pastoral Ministry (Harper San Francisco, revised, 1998)
  5. Harris, Maria. Fashion Me a People: Curriculum in the Church (Westminster John Knox Press, 1989)
  6. Palmer, Parker J. The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life (Jossey-Bass, 1998) Anything by Parker Palmer is helpful to the Christian educator and helps keep one focused on their calling to this ministry.
  7. Roehlkepartain, Eugene C. The Teaching Church: Moving Christian Education to Center Stage (Search Institute / Abingdon, 1993)
  8. Tye, Karen B. Basics of Christian Education (Chalice Press, 2000)
  9. Webb-Mitchell, Brett. Christly Gestures: Learning to Be Members of the Body of Christ (Eerdmans, 2003)
  10. Westerhoff, John H., III. Will Our Children Have Faith? 3rd revised edition (Morehouse Publishing, 2012)

Top Ten for Episcopal Educators

  1. Borsch, Fredrick. Introducing the Lessons of the Church Year (Morehouse Publishing, 2009)
  2. Called to Teach and Learn: A Catechetical Guide for the Episcopal Church and Discovering Called to Teach and Learn (workbook) (DFMS, 1994)
  3. The Episcopal Handbook (Morehouse Publishing, 2008)
  4. Grenz, Linda. Transforming Disciples (Church Publishing, 2008)
  5. Griffiths, James E. The Anglican Vision (Cowley, 1997)
  6. Pearson, Sharon Ely. The Episcopal Christian Educator’s Handbook (Morehouse Publishing, 2014)
  7. Pearson, Sharon Ely and Robyn Szoke, editors. The Prayer Book Guide to Christian Education, 3rd edition (Morehouse Publishing, 2009)
  8. Pearson, Sharon Ely. Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Theologies of Confirmation for the 21st Century (Morehouse Publishing, 2014)
  9. Tammany, Klara. Living Water: Baptism as a Way of Life (Church Publishing, 2002)
  10. Webber, Christopher L. Welcome to the Episcopal Church: An Introduction to Its History, Faith, and Worship (Morehouse Publishing, 1999)

Top Ten for Children’s Ministries

  1. Berryman, Jerome. Teaching Godly Play: How to Mentor the Spiritual Development of Children, revised (Church Publishing, 2009)
  2. Caldwell, Elizabeth F. Making a Home for Faith: Nurturing the Spiritual Life of Your Children, revised (Pilgrim Press, 2007)
  3. Csinos, David M. and Ivy Beckwith. Children’s Ministries in the Way of Jesus (InterVarsity Press, 2013)
  4. Hay, David and Rebecca Nye. The Spirit of the Child (Harper Collins, 1998)
  5. May, Scottie, Beth Posterski, Catherine Stonehouse and Linda Cannell. Children Matter: Celebrating Their Place in the Church, Family and Community (Wm. Eerdmans, 2005)
  6. Mercer, Joyce Ann. Welcoming Children: A Practical Theology of Childhood (Chalice Press, 2005)
  7. Miller-McLemore, Bonnie. In the Midst of Chaos: Caring for Children as Spiritual Practice (Jossey-Bass, 2007)
  8. Miller-McLemore, Bonnie. Let the Children Come: Reimagining Childhood from a Christian Perspective (John Wiley & Sons, 2003)
  9. Pritchard, Gretchen Wolff. Offering the Gospel to Children (Cowley Publications, 1992)
  10. Stonehouse, Catherine. Joining Children on the Spiritual Journey: Nurturing a Life of Faith (Baker Books, 1998)

Top Ten for Youth Ministry

  1.  Caldwell, Elizabeth F. Leaving Home with Faith: Nurturing the Spiritual Life of Our Youth (Pilgrim Press, 2003)
  2. Dean, Kenda Creasy. Practing Passion: Youth and the Quest for a Passionate Church (Zondervan, 2006)
  3. Dean, Kenda Creasy. Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church. (Oxford, 2010) 
  4. Dean, Kenda Creasy, Chap Clark and Dave Rahn. Starting Right: Thinking Theologically About Youth Ministry (Youth Specialties, 2001)
  5. Devries, Mark. Sustainable Youth Ministry: Why Most Youth Ministry Doesn’t Last and What Your Church Can Do About it (Intervarsity Press, 2008)
  6. Heischman, Daniel R. Good Influence: Teaching the Wisdom of Adulthood (Morehouse, 2009)
  7. Hughes, Amanda Millay. Lost and Found: Adolescence, Parenting and the Formation of Faith (Cowley, 2002)
  8. Jones, Tony. Soul Shaper (Youth Specialities, 2003).
  9. Lyons, Patricia. The Soul of Adolescence: In Their Own Words (Morehouse Publishing, 2010)
  10. Smith, Christian. Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers (Oxford University Press, 2005)

Top Books for Young Adult Ministries

  1. Hayes, Mike. Googling God: The Religious Landscape of People in their 20s and 30s (Paulist Press, 2007)
  2. Hendrickson, Robert. Yearning: Authentic Transformation, Young Adults, and the Church (Morehouse, 2013)
  3. Merritt, Carol Howard. Tribal Church: Ministering to the Missing Generation (Alban Institute, 2007)
  4. Smith, Christian. Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults (Oxford University Press, 2009)
  5. Wuthnow, Robert. After the Baby Boomers: How Twenty-and Thirty-Somethings Are Shaping the Future of American Religion (Princeton University Press, 2007)

Top Books for Adult Ministries

  1. Foster, Charles R. Educating Congregations: The Future of Christian Education (Abingdon Press, 1994)
  2. Fowler, James W. Becoming Adult, Becoming Christian: Adult Development and the Christian Faith (Jossey Bass, 2000)
  3. Loder, James E. The Logic of the Spirit: Human Development in Theological Perspective (Jossey-Bass, 1998)
  4. Lytle, Julie Anne. Faith Formation 4.0: Introducing an Ecology of Faith in a Digital Age (Morehouse, 2013)
  5. Prentiss, Demi and J. Fletcher Lowe. Radical Sending: Go to Love and Serve (Church Publishing, 2016)
  6. Stokes, Kenneth. Faith is a Verb: Dynamics of Adult Faith Development (Twenty-Third Publications, 1998)

7 thoughts on “Top Ten Books

      1. for Family ministry…
        #1 – Intergenerational Christian Formation: Bringing the whole church together in ministry, community and worship, Allen & Ross, 2012 (I teach university course on FM and last year moved from the standard text: Family Ministry: A Comprehensive Guide, Garland 2012) to Allen & Ross and worked VERY well for my students.
        #2 – A Theology for Family Ministry, Anthony & Anthony, ed. 2011.
        #3 – Family Ministry Field Guide: How your church can equip parents to make disciples, Jones, 2011. (Not for university use; however, a practical tool for churches.)


    1. Seamless Faith: Simple Practices for Daily Family Life by Traci Smith and Sabbath in the Suburbs: A Family’s Experiment with Holy Time by MaryAnn McKibben Dana


  1. Hey Sharon – thanks for your planning calendar – it’s great resource – are you planning on doing another one for next year?


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