A Brief but Brilliant Book on Ministry

This autumn is proving a vintage season for books on ministry.  Jason Helopoulos’ book arrived a few weeks ago, and Kent Hughes’ massive tome is about to be published.  Plus the redoubtable Jim Garretson has another gem on a Princetonian due for publication in October.  If it is anything like his work on Samuel Miller, it will be well worth a purchase.


The team at Banner of Truth has added to this crop with a great little book by Allan Harman, Preparing for Ministry.  Harman writes as someone who has been a pastor, a seminary professor, and a principal.  Thus he knows all about ministerial training from all angles.


The book is delightfully simple.   The two opening chapters address conversion and call.  Then subsequent chapters look at pre-theological study, how to choose a seminary or college, what to expect from a theology course, early ministry, and staying fresh.


Perhaps the most perennially valuable parts of the book, however, are the appendices.  Three in particular make the book worth a purchase.  One is a basic guide to sermon preparation which contains a remarkable amount of sound practical advice in just four pages.  Then there are reprints of a chapter, ‘The Minister’s Self-Watch,’ from Spurgeon’s Lectures to My Students, and of Warfield’s The Religious Life of Theological Students.  I have both of these texts in other volumes but it is great to have them in pocket size form – and great to have them cheaply available for giving to students and friends.  (I might add that Spurgeon’s Lectures to My Students is in itself a wonderful volume which should be in every minister’s library.  Regular Sunday afternoon reading in my house.)


Once again, Banner has proved that you do not have to be cool or glamorous or recruit the hippest names to be incredibly helpful for pastors and ministerial students.