Westminster Seminary California
Building the Minister’s Library: Pastoral Theology
John G. Bales

Pastoral ministry is almost a lost art. Pastors today are so driven by techniques and methods to reach the lost that they have forgotten their primary calling, to preach the gospel and tend to the flock that God has entrusted them. But we don’t have to be dismayed by the situation. There are many fine works still available which can show us the Jesus way to pastoral ministry. Below is a selection of just a few of what I would consider the best.

Adams, Jay Edward. Shepherding God's Flock. [Nutley, N.J.]: Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co, 1974. Adams is biblical, practical and reveals a deep love for Christ’s church.

Bucer, Martin, Peter Beale, and David F. Wright. Concerning the true care of souls. Edinburgh: Carlisle, PA, 2009. Bucer’s work is representative of pastoral theology and specifically pastoral care from the Reformation.

Cannon, James Spencer. Lectures on Pastoral Theology. With a biographical sketch by William Henry Campbell. New York: Charles Scribner, 1853. Yes, this is an older work, but exemplifies a “classic approach” by a Dutch Reformed pastor who remained at a church for thirty years.

Clark, R. Scott. Covenant, Justification, and Pastoral Ministry: Essays by the Faculty of Westminster Seminary California. Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R Pub, 2007. This work is a collection of essays by pastor/teachers who demonstrate how pressing doctrinal issues and pastoral ministry in the local church can and should be addressed together.

Clebsch, William A., and Charles R. Jaekle. Pastoral Care in Historical Perspective, An Essay with Exhibits. New York: Harper & Row, 1967. Alternatively see McNeill, John T. A History of the Cure of Souls. New York: Harper & Row, 1977. These are historical studies on how pastoral care was expressed in previous ages, demonstrating the continuity of the Christian tradition.

Cooke, Bernard J. Ministry to Word and Sacraments: History and Theology. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1976. This massive work explores the history of doctrines related to pastoral theology. It is a standard work, along with Clebsch.

Marshall, Colin, and Tony Payne. The Trellis and the Vine: The Ministry Mind-Shift That Changes Everything. Kingsford, N.S.W.: Matthias Media, 2009. The authors approach pastoral ministry from a biblical perspective and apply themselves to the present situation. It comes highly recommended.

Peterson, Eugene H. Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work. Atlanta: J. Knox Press, 1980. See also his Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity. The second work is Peterson’s primer on pastoral theology, while Five Smooth Stones is his pastoral wisdom based upon his exposition of five Old Testament books. 

Piper, John. Brothers, We Are Not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry. Nashville, Tenn: Broadman & Holman, 2002. Piper argues that while pastors should always act professionally, they are not professionals in the same way that other professionals are. Pastors have an entirely different calling.

Rutherford, Samuel, and Andrew A. Bonar. Letters of Samuel Rutherford: With a Sketch of His Life and Biographical Notes of His Correspondents by the Rev. Andrew A. Bonar, D.D. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1984. One older tradition of pastoral ministry is letter-writing. All of the great pastors wrote letters to their flock and friends. Rutherford’s letters exhibit pastoral care and tender devotion.

Thornton, Martin. Pastoral Theology: A Reorientation. London: S.P.C.K., 1964. Thornton is an Anglican, but summarizes his tradition well. He is at his best when he reminds pastors of their essential calling, which is to the remnant of God.