Pastor, What’s On Your Bookshelf?

It’s been said that you’ll know the theological foundation of your pastor by what’s on his bookshelf. The recent Lutheran Witness candidate Q&A had a question that got at this idea.

Voting is coming up: June 22-25, 2019. We encourage a vote for reelecting Rev. Matthew Harrison. If you’re not your congregation’s voter, please encourage whomever that is to vote for President Harrison!

Q: Other than the Bible and the Book of Concord, what book has had the greatest influence on your pastoral ministry? Why? 


Walther’s Law and Gospel. One only becomes the pastor God intends, learning to properly apply Law and Gospel (2 Tim. 2:15), through prayer, meditation on God’s Word and trials (Heb. 13:12–13; 2 Cor. 12:6–7). And it’s the cross and trials that bring it all home. “We have this treasure in jars of clay” (2 Cor. 4:7). “We are beggars. This is true” (Luther).


I love to read and have read so many good books. The Barna Institute’s “The State of Pastors” is a fascinating study on current clergy life and attitudes. The Call by Os Guiness speaks of how God calls us to Himself and to vocation. Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado has made a huge impact on my heart in making me calm and hopeful — the most influential book I received at a conference in St. Louis. I was tired, frustrated and afraid. Jill Briscoe’s book Faith Enough to Finish led me through the ministry of the prophet Jeremiah. He had frustration and disappointment, but the Lord never failed him. He put His Word in Jeremiah’s mouth, put the right people on Jeremiah’s team and put His hope in Jeremiah’s heart. This book had great pieces of Scripture organized in a way that fed my soul at a critical time.


Maybe Evangelism in the Early Church by Michael Green. It takes the reader through the Book of Acts and beyond, focusing on how the Church in the first 200 years after Pentecost did evangelism in a hostile world. “Christians” recognized themselves as “nobodies” and yet “missionaries.” “Neither the strategy nor the tactics of the first Christians were particularly remarkable. What was remarkable was their conviction, their passion and their determination to act as Christ’s embassy to a rebel world, whatever the consequences.” Their Christology and new ecclesiology (no longer synagogue-centered) changed the world.

Great application for today!