1. The Cure of Souls by John Watson (Ian Maclaren)
This Scottish preacher wrote under the pen name John Watson and published several volumes of his sermons. He could be a little sloppy doctrinally, but his viewpoint on preaching was spot on. I can just hear his Scottish brogue as I read. This was the 1896 Yale Lecture.
“Cure” sounds like thick Scottish for “Care” ( I read it is actually Latin) and so he writes about the ministry. He begins with forming sermons and he gives good guidance. He explains how when we preach about everything, we really preach about nothing. He says these casual sermons come either from slackness or laziness.
Chapters 4 and 5 drag, but be sure to read on as chapters 6 through 9 are exceptionally good. You will smile as he tells about church members who are dissatisfied with everything. He calls them “mutineers” and says “…a ship may weather many storms from without, but mutiny among the crew is destruction.” His solution? Every church should refuse them and they could all get together and make their own church! Since no one would want to pastor them, a pastor who has wrecked two churches “by bad temper and overbearing conduct” could be sought for them. See why these old books can still be so valuable because so much of the ministry never changes!
When he speaks of being a prophet versus being an organizer, he sounds like he writes today. He respects and shows the value of small works too. Many ministry books today write that off as failure in these success-mad days we live in.
Whether it is call for confidentiality, or the egotism he hears in some public prayers, or the description of the good side of ministry, every preacher should read it.
2. The Ministry of the Word by G. Campbell Morgan
Here is master preacher who gives us his thoughts on the ministry. He discusses the man in the “ministry of the word.” He begins by digging out the meaning of “ministry” and the “word” and describes them as the fundamental conceptions.
Then in 4 chapters he compares and contrasts the Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, and Pastor/Teacher. He sees them as different gifts among those who preach, though there are no more Apostles today. He fills like no one will be gifted in all these areas. He does argue persuasively that pastor and teacher are the same office.
In the final four chapters he deals with modern application for these roles he dug out. They are really good. He says that he never asks someone to enter the ministry as the Lord calls Who He wills. Though that call appears different in different personalities, the call is there none the less. He feels the clearest evidence of a call is the gift for it. A Pastor, for example, should have a clear gift for teaching.
His epilogue on prayer keeps the true source of power before us. What a gifted preacher he was and it is worth hearing what he has to say.
Read more on Morgan here.
3. Ministerial Life and Work by W. H. Griffith Thomas
This title isn’t as known as some, but it should be. This is an abridgment of his The Work of the Ministry, but likely all we need is here. He was a popular author who had a profitable ministry.
He has six good chapters on we men in the ministry by reviewing the ministry of the prophets, the Twelve, Paul, and as described by certain epistles. It is well done.
In the second half of the book he writes about the work itself. It is very detailed on certain aspects of the ministry like worship, preaching, visiting, Sunday School, and even prayer meetings.
This is a very good volume.
More in this series on the ministry books:
You can find all posts and books in this series reviewed in the Introductory Post.