Martin Luther said that he did not approve someone for ministry who did not know and appreciate music. (I'll get around to that quotation more accurately and specifically later.) To which I would add: I can't imagine an effective pastoral minister who is not an avid reader. While I will use the image of the bookshelf here, I am less concerned that someone hold and read a physical printed artifact than that they read--deeply and widely.
I'm thinking about that as I prepare to teach, for the first time, a seminary course, "Christian Worship and Pastoral Practice." I was invited to teach the course by the retiring professor who also gave me his notes, syllabus, and online resources. (Pro tip: when teaching an existing course for the first time, find and use the best syllabus and materials that someone else has developed. Then, after you've gone through the course once, make it your own.) The reading list and other recommendations were appropriate to the breadth of the course, and represent some of the best authors and practitioners.
Naturally, though, I had some ideas of my own. So it was an interesting and fun challenge to make this part of the syllabus mine, without reinventing the whole list. (For those who may want to peruse it, see the note at the end of this post.) One significant change I made was to limit the required text to a single item, Constance Cherry's The Worship Architect. There is a LOT of other required reading, but students will choose a single title from each of five categories; the idea is that students reading in the same theme, from different authors, will have richer classroom discussions.
In addition to the five categories, the syllabus lists titles that I will reference in class, and other resources under the headings of "worship" and "pastoral ministry." I hope that students will find this list useful as they consider how to stock their own ministry bookshelves. I hope students will read broadly and deeply in this class, and continue to do so in ministry, reading beyond what they find in Twitter, blogs, podcasts, and YouTube. All of which they (and I) will continue to benefit from.
Along that line, I have just been introduced to a reading challenge for 2022**. I won't commit to all of the categories in this year, but it's a great constellation of areas in which an evangelical pastor ought to be reading. I do fault it for a paucity of fiction, and the complete absence of poetry--though some of the listed categories can accommodate those genres. And despite that criticism, I will keep this checklist in my "q.v." folder.
I have written on the "bookshelf" before. You can find those at THIS query.
AND FOR THOSE WHO DARE, if you'd like to see the reading portion of my syllabus for "Christian Worship and Pastoral Practice" leave your name and email in Comments. Your comment and email will not be published.
** upon reading more deeply in the group/site from which this commendable list comes, I want to distance myself from some of the more conservative elements of the organization. I am rightly challenged to rigorous reading, but do not embrace some (many?) of the views expressed throughout the website.