Building a Professional Ministry Library On The Cheap

Yesterday I spent 10 hours in a meeting discussing training strategies for college ministers (most of whom come from secular colleges). While driving back I began thinking about the challenge a new minister without formal training faces in building a professional library. Books are expensive–the New International Commentary series on the Old and New Testaments retails for nearly $1,500 (OT, NT)! For some new ministers, building a quality library can seem so overwhelming that it’s hard to know where to start.

Inspired by a similar example, I decided to compile a solid (although basic) ministry library for under $200 (I failed by eleven cents). I priced the books (used) on on 6/18/2004. Books are listed in rough order of importance within each category.

The Reference Collection — $102.85

  • NIV Exhaustive Concordance $19.35
  • Systematic Theology, Millard Erickson $29.99
  • The IVP Bible Background Commentary — New Testament, Craig Keener $13.95
  • Handbook of Christian Apologetics, Peter Kreeft & Ronald Tacelli $5.99
  • Chronological and Background Charts of the New Testament, H. Wayne House $10.15
  • Chronological and Background Charts of the Old Testament, John Walton $9.99
  • Multipurpose Tools for Bible Study, Fred Danker $13.43

The Personal & Professional Growth Collection — $97.26

  • Devotional Classics, Foster & Smith $6.65
  • How to Read The Bible For All Its Worth, Fee & Stuart $1.99
  • Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis $4.95
  • The Spirit of the Disciplines, Dallas Willard $9.60
  • The Challenge of Jesus, N. T. Wright $10.97
  • Prayer, Richard Foster $5.00
  • A Tale of Three Kings, Gene Edwards $3.85
  • The Pursuit of Holiness, Jerry Bridges $2.49
  • Exegetical Fallacies – D. A. Carson $8.99
  • Between Two Worlds, John Stott $9.00
  • The Master Plan of Evangelism, Robert Coleman $0.97
  • The Purpose-Driven Church, Rick Warren $8.00
  • Christian Counseling, Gary Collins $10.50
  • Solution-Focused Pastoral Counseling, Charles Kollar $12.71
  • Take and Read, Eugene Peterson $1.59

Total Cost: $200.11 (excluding shipping & handling)

I tried to end each list with a book that would lead to more books, so that this would only be the genesis of a professional library…

I welcome suggestions for replacement volumes. What do you think important for a novice minister with little theological education to read?

Relevant Network

I finally received the first installment of my subscription to Relevant Network this morning (I say finally because I expected it last week).

Anyway, I had wondered what I would get with my subscription, and now I know. I thought I’d pass it on in case your ministry is considering joining the network.

I got a magazine called Relevant Leader. It looks okay–it’s a guide to the resources in the kit (reviews, interviews with artists, etc) along with a handful of extra articles thrown in.

I got 5 copies of the most recent issue of Relevant Magazine. That was nice, but for some reason the magazine has always underwhelmed me. I’ve always felt that they try too hard. But then again, I tend to get annoyed at most things I’m supposed to find cool (like popular music and television programs), so that’s a clue that Relevant is hitting its demographic (for the record, I’m a NPR junkie. If there’s ever anything else on in the car it’s probably because Paula is driving).

I got 7 books (Red Moon Rising, The 250: Evangelism Ideas for Your Campus, Enjoying God, Enter the Worship Circle, Soul Survivor, What’s So Amazing About Grace — Visual Edition, and The Air I Breathe).

I got 2 study guides (one for Red Moon Rising and the other for Soul Survivor).

And I got 5 CDs (Anonymous: Accelerate in Slow Motion, Enter The Worship Circle: The Third Circle, Desperation, Anthony Skinner: Forever and a Day, and Telecast: The Beauty of Simplicity).

Not a bad deal. Not bad at all. I was worried I would be dismayed with my purchase, but I was actually quite satisfied.

I had hoped for some video clips (like the kind of stuff Highway Video puts out), but that wasn’t to be. Perhaps in future installments.

UPDATE: After a little more reflection, I realized that I was surprised at how few of the resources were actually ministry resources. Most were personal growth resources.

As I mentioned before, I was most anxious to receive tools (such as video clips) that would be useful in conducting worship services or planning outreaches or crafting sermons. Videos from Nooma, for example, would be really helpful. Two or three sermons on CD would be extremely useful. A bible study or two would be well-received.

I guess I’d prefer to see 50%+ of the resources be ministry tools and the minority be personal growth materials.

Just some thoughts.

Overall, it’s a great investment. The books and CDs I received were worth far more than I’m paying for the subscription.

My College Roomie & Books

One of the things that bound my college roomate Dave Rainey and I together was our mutual love of books–especially old books.

That’s why I’m so happy to announce David’s new website: Christian Book Finder.

It’s an annotated bibliography organized by subject–very useful! The only thing I don’t like about it is that he doesn’t link directly to online book vendors… that would make it easier to act on one of his recommendations!

By the way, Dave is well-qualified for this venture. In addition to being a lover of books, he has a Master of Library and Information Science. How cool is that?

Great Software For Missionaries

If you’re a missionary responsible for raising the funds necessary for your ministry, download TntMPD. It’s a free tool created by Campus Crusade for Christ to help missionaries reach full funding. It’s remarkable, and I invite you to experiment with it yourself.

If you’re a missionary responsible for raising the funds necessary for your ministry, download TntMPD. It’s a free tool created by Campus Crusade for Christ to help missionaries reach full funding. It’s remarkable, and I invite you to experiment with it yourself.

The Message at Gospelcom

Hey– the Bible Gateway now includes The Message translation!

Hey– the Bible Gateway now includes The Message translation!

This is great–I used to use QuickVerse for my sermon prep, but then I got a computer with Windows XP and QuickVerse wouldn’t run under XP. Shortly thereafter, we moved to Palo Alto and got broadband access.

As a result, I use online tools all the time in my sermon prep. My sole regret has been that I haven’t been able to access the Message in all that time. That’s a bigger deal than it would be with most translations, since there is no concordance to the Message. Either you search it electronically or you just rely on your memory.

Now the three translations I use most often are available using the same online tool: The Message, the Contemporary English Version, and the New Living Translation.

How To Link To The NET Bible

Finally–how to link to a verse in the NET Bible using their perl script!

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been going crazy trying to figure out how to link directly to a verse in the NET Bible.

Their webmaster finally sent me an email explaining how to do it!

Here’s what you wanted:
The link goes to John 3:16

You’ll note that the way our perl script is formatted, no one can take a verse out of context. That is, when you want a specific verse from the NET Bible, you’ll get the paragraph in which that verse occurs. (Paragraph breaks are sort of arbitrary, but at least it’s a help to the context.) The only other thing you need is a list of our abbreviations. Format: they are all first three letters (gen, deu, 1ch, 2sa, mat)

With following exceptions:
  Judges: jdg
  Philemon: phm
  Philippians: phi.

Cool! This will be useful whenever I have a little time to reply to some of Nota Bene and Integrity Blog’s thoughts.