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Books & Questions

Small-Group Reading Bundle for Leaders

A helpful roundup of books and questions that can help you spark good, honest, and lively conversations with your small groups.

A curated list of books

With the right books and questions, small groups can be incredibly powerful. They can give us the space to both listen and be heard — two essentials for learning and growing.

As you take stock of the following recommendations, remember when leading a small group to let the group answer the questions. Listen, don’t preach. This gives each individual room to think and talk through the questions posed.

6 Essential Reads for Growing and Leading

1. Small Cloud Rising by Dave Gibbons

I know Dave Gibbons. I love the way he thinks. His book is concise, clear, and compelling. It guides you through understanding what he believes is happening in the church and world today. And, do not miss the tone and texture behind the writing. It is this which makes his work speak to me.


  • Do you agree with David’s assessment and vision for the future?
  • What kind of vision do you have for the future of your own church?

2. Live Large! By Bob Lonac

My book. What can I say? I like it. But more than that, each chapter concludes with three questions. Each would help start a provocative conversation for a small group.

Questions (just a few of my favorites):

  • In the past few months, when have you sensed or responded to God’s presence in ways words can’t describe?
  • How do you see ongoing prayer deepening your relationship with Christ?
  • Suppose you were to discern the very real influence of evil? What would it look like for you to speak out or write down your concern and conviction in a prayer to God?

3. Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders

Spiritual Leadership had its 121st printing in 1976, which is when I got my copy. I still have it. It is marked up and underlined, circled, and highlighted. I would rate this one up at the top for how you connect spiritual life with leadership.


  • How do leaders define their own responsibilities?
  • What qualities and criteria of leadership do you admire most and why?
  • How can you use Oswald’s art of reproducing leaders?

4. Devotional Classics edited by Richard Foster and James Bryan Smith

Devotional Classic is a daily devotional edited by Richard Foster and James Bryan Smith. This book has writings from great thinkers through the ages. It is comprised of six categories. Pick one article from each topic to read together and discuss as a group. I think it will lead to a great depth of discussion. Remember to listen, and let them do the talking.


  • How do you identify a good person to guide and lead you on the road to devotion?
  • As a leader, how do you balance finding the solitude you need to live a spiritual life while also being there for your followers?

5. Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

I read Blue Like Jazz when it came out in 2003. It was the subtitle that grabbed me, “Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality.”

I think a lot of small group discussions get bogged down when people share what they think they are supposed to say, not what they are thinking and experiencing. If you read this book as a group, you would laugh a lot. Transparency and openness are sometimes hard to break through in a small group. The book will help you accomplish being open with each other.


  • What’s one passage that actually made you laugh out loud?
  • Where do we see the Christian faith have relevance in a postmodern culture?

6. Chasing David by Rene Schlaepfer

This book is excellent for small group discussions. There are YouTube videos to guide you. My small group watched the video together and then discussed each chapter. Add water and stir. This is an engaging look at the life of David that is open, honest, and compelling. David blew it. So do we!


  • How are you working to be spiritually alive?
  • In what way can you speak to others from alongside of them and treat them with equality?

What to Read Next...

Why I Love "Blue Like Jazz"

I like authors who are transparent and open with what they are thinking and fearless in telling how they see it. It may make you uncomfortable but certainly will challenge you to grow and learn.

Read More

Live Large!

My first book has arrived, in which I share 7 lasting lessons for navigating life’s twists and turns.

Read More

A Helpful Read by J. Oswald Sanders

There are many books that can help you understand and grow into your authentic leadership self. My favorite all-time book on leadership is Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders. 

Read More
Bob Lonac

About Bob Lonac

Today, friends call me a leader of leaders. But this wasn’t always the case.

During my life of working in faith-based, Christ-centered ministry, relationships have proved to be the common thread. My passion is helping other people grow through one-on-one mentoring and small group training. I love building teams. I love seeing people and organizations succeed. You can read more about my story and what I'm doing now.

I am still learning a lot and it would be fantastic to share this journey with you! If you haven’t yet, sign up for my email newsletter so we can stay connected.