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10 Books to Read with Student Leaders

I am often asked what we do to train our team of student leaders. Answer: books. Using a book enables us to cover more topics than we can in a weekly training meeting. Using the right kind of book can motivate and inspire students in ways that I can’t no matter how hard I try! I don’t feel the need to be the fountain of all knowledge for our students. But I want to instill a hunger for them to be readers and lifelong learners. Helping students build the habit of reading now will help them for the rest of their lives! Here are 10 books that I would highly recommend that you take your students leaders through. Don’t feel like you have to read all 10, just pick one and run with it!

1. The Fuel and The Flame: 10 Keys to Igniting Your College Campus For Jesus Christ by Steve Shadrach

This has proven by far to be the most motivational and life changing book for the students in our ministry. It is full of stories and packed with practical and proven ways to help them take steps of faith and make disciples on campus. If your students read one book while they are in college (besides the Bible) make it this one! We actually love it so much that we have integrated the book into our discipleship process. It is required reading for everyone who joins our Core Team of student leaders! The upperclassmen or staff person discipling them slowly walks them through and applies the principles in each chapter. Our ministry would not be what it is today if I didn’t pick up a copy of Fuel and The Flame as a Sophomore in college.

2. Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman

Simple. Biblical. Classic. are three words I would use to describe Master Plan. This short book takes a “no frills” approach and looks directly at the ministry of Jesus the master disciple-maker himself. It is easy to read but it pulls no punches calling people to radical discipleship and urgent spiritual multiplication. Last Fall we walked through it with our student leaders and our staff took turns expanding on and applying what was brought up in each chapter. This book gives a great platform to give further training in areas related to each chapter. The principles in this book will always be relevant to college ministry because they are the very principles Jesus used to make disciples.

3. Lost Art of Disciplemaking by Leroy Eims

This by far the most helpful book on how to disciple a new believer and train them up to the point where they will be a life time disciple maker themselves. It is a short, no fluff and realistic approach to discipling someone one on one. What else would you expect from a guy who was discipled by Dawson Trotman the founder of “The Navigators? When we took our student leadership team through this book the students were so grateful for the ideas and practical applications. The concepts in this book are simple to understand but extremely challenging. You can’t read this book without being motivated to ask God to give you someone to disciple! Isn’t that something you want your student leaders to be focused on?

4. Live Life on Purpose by Claude Hickman

In this fast moving book Claude Hickman lays out the Biblical basis for missions and does an excellent job challenging students to live their lives by the “Northstar” of God’s global purpose for the world. It is a moving summary of God’s heart for the nations written specifically for college students. I consider it to be the cliff notes version of The Perspectives on The World Christian Movement course. This would be a perfect book to read with students to help mobilize them for missions.

5. The Navigator: Lessons From The Life of Dawson Trotman by Robert Foster

I could have included a fairly long list of biographies on this list but this book is uniquely suited for use with your student leadership team. It is short and instead of an exhaustive look at Dawson Trotman’s life, it focuses on the key habits and character qualities that God used to shape the modern discipleship movement. Dawson Trotman has played an incredible role in shaping collegiate ministries all over the world and chances are your collegiate ministry has been influenced by him whether you know it or not. The stories in this book will inspire you and your team to focus on the basics of following Christ and pray desperately asking The Lord to bring spiritual generations through each of your student leaders. In addition to reading this book you may want to listen to Dawson Trotman’s classic sermon “Born To Reproduce” and some of his others including “The Need of The Hour” and “Scripture Memory” found at Discipleship Library. As one of my mentors, John Kelsey would always say, “If this doesn’t get you fired up then your wood is wet!”

6. The Finishers: Completing The Mission of Christ in Your Generation by Roger Hershey and Jason Weimer

This may be a less known book for those who are not involved with Cru but this book is such a good mobilization tool! It is written specifically to college students by one of the most fruitful and respected campus directors in the world. Roger has been on staff with Cru for over 40 years, lead several of the largest and strongest sending Cru ministries in the world and has people he has discipled serving The Lord all over the world. He is a frequent speaker at Cru conferences and has honed his content to challenge students to leverage their lives to fulfill the great commission in this generation. I caught myself saying “Yes! Yes! Yes!” over and over throughout the book. It is also fairly comprehensive. The book hits on theology, a strong vision for missions, evangelism, discipleship, prayer, stewardship, decision making, calling and eternal perspective. It is so much of what I wish a student would get from a book. It is perfect for taking your whole leadership team through.

7. Life with Attitude by Harold Bullock

Harold is the Pastor of Hope Church in Fort Worth who God has used in incredible ways to train leaders and multiply churches. Over 100 churches and ministries have been planted all over the world from people going out from Hope. The “Heart Attitudes” described in the book are part of the “secret sauce” for creating a community that God uses to change lives. This short book is an easy to read and devotional style. The habits and attitudes described in this book are essential for every follower of Christ that wants to be a vital part of the body of Christ. They are also foundational for building a healthy team culture and unity.

8. Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney

Spiritual disciplines for the Christian life is a comprehensive and practical guide to the most important habits every follower of Jesus should develop. From Bible intake to fasting the book covers a number of spiritual disciplines with plenty of specific advice for getting started. What I love about the book is that Donald is careful to provide the “Why” behind the spiritual disciplines he encourages us to use. He also provides solid biblical basis for each habit. The book is written from a gospel centered perspective and does a great job motivating diligence in these disciplines without falling into the ditch of legalism. I also love the fact that he includes some less common disciplines like evangelism and learning. Plus JI Packer wrote the foreword so you know it’s legit.

9. Personal Disciplemaking by Christopher Adsit

I included several books on disciple-making in this list because as college ministry leaders we have “one job.” Our primary role is to multiply disciples by raising up and equipping students to make disciples on campus! Our student leaders will see the most growth and deeper experience with God as they pour their lives into other students. I would describe this book as a comprehensive handbook for helping a new believer take their first steps in following Christ. It’s almost two books in one. In the first half, it gives an excellent “why” and “how” that takes someone through how to start a discipleship relationship with someone and walks them through the process all the way to helping your disciple start to share Christ and disciple others. The second half of the book goes into detail on how to help someone with 12 key training objectives that are foundational for every follower of Christ. The tips and ideas in this section are solid gold! Our Core Team read the first 8 chapters together one semester and encouraged them to read the second section on their own and use with those they are discipling. An excellent addition to a student leaders disciple making tool belt.

10. Radical by David Platt

This book had a huge spike in popularity a few years ago and as a result, quite a few people have criticized it. At times young people have misapplied the principles in the book and ended up acting extreme or judgmental toward other believers who may not be as “radical” as them. I think most of the beef that people have with the book is not from the book itself but with young immature believers taking it further or in a different way than Platt intended. That being said, for our ministry God has used this book more than any other book to produce action and life change for students. We actually have taken students through Radical twice during our summer training programs and each time we were very glad that we did. At times students did need a little bit of guidance on how to channel the raw passion that oozes from each page. I would much rather redirect a student that is too fired up for Christ’s mission than one who is indifferent. It is much easier to steer a moving car than one that is standing still. This excellent book has a powerful description of the gospel, a courageous look at our stewardship of time, money and calling as well as an urgent biblical perspective on missions. Platt communicates many of the classic principles that John Piper communicates in books like “Don’t Waste Your Life” and “Let The Nations Be Glad” but in an easier to read and more emotional fashion. If you are looking for something to light a fire in your students to do whatever it takes to see the mission of Christ advance then Radical would be a great option!

Praise God for giving His people so many solid resources! What books did we miss? What are some of your top ones? Jump over to our Facebook group to discuss and recommend.

PS: Do you want even MORE? Here are the Honorable Mentions. I would highly recommend reading these books and considering taking your students leaders through them. We have used many of these in our ministry as well.

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