For several years we’ve had a part-time pastoral internship program at University Reformed Church. This year, for the first time, our interns work full-time. The bulk of their time is spent in four areas:
1. Reading and writing
2. Ministry observation
3. Personal ministry (they do for others)
4. Personal discipleship (they receive from the pastors)
Under the first category, our interns read several books. Actually, many books. And many papers (relatively short papers–2000 words). You can see below what they will read between now and the end of May.
They will read portions of Lectures to My Students (Charles Spurgeon), Spiritual Leadership (J. Oswald Sanders), and 9 Marks of a Healthy Church (Mark Dever). These selections are for discussion only. The other ten books are read in their entirety and require a written paper.
Our interns tend to be recent college graduates who have not yet gone to seminary. We try not to duplicate the reading they do in seminary. We don’t teach languages. We don’t do church history. We don’t attempt to do what full-time professors can do better. We focus instead on books that touch on the practical side of ministry (yes, I know all theology is practical). Having said that, we want our interns to be squared away on the basic theological categories. We also want them to be challenged with some heavier reading than they probably do on their own.
1. Robert Letham, The Holy Trinity. Biblical, historical, and rich. We thrown the interns into the deep end first.
2. John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied. Short, but substantial. If pastors don’t understand the salvation and atonement, they aren’t ready to be pastors.
3. J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism. Well written and still relevant.
4. Robert Plummer, 40 Questions about Interpreting the Bible. Nicely organized. A good introduction hermeneutics, genre, textual criticism, and the doctrine of inspiration.
5. Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Worship. A good blend of worship theology and praxis. Helpful for interns to see where a more traditional liturgy comes from and why it makes sense.
6. David Helm, Expository Preaching. Best book on the how-to and how-come of expository preaching.
7. Guy Prentiss Waters, How Jesus Runs the Church. PCA-centric, but useful for anyone in the Reformed/Presbyterian tradition.
8. Timothy Witmer, Shepherd Leader. Puts a good theology of eldership into hands on ministry practice.
9. D. A. Carson, Christ and Culture Revisited. Balanced and wise. Provokes good discussion.
10. David Hesselgrave, Paradigms in Conflict. I am more decidedly Reformed in a couple areas, but the format effectively presents the key issues in missiology today and points the reader in a good direction.
The list of assigned books gets tweaked year by year. In the past, we’ve assigned a few of my books, but it’s hard to write an honest paper for the guy who wrote the book. Other books we’ve assigned over the years include: Exegetical Fallacies (D.A. Carson), Worship by the Book (D.A. Carson, ed.), The Church of Christ (James Bannerman), Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands (Paul Tripp), Preaching and Preachers (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones), The Message of the Old Testament (Mark Dever), The Courage to Protestant (David Wells), A History of Israel (Walter Kaiser), Biblical Eldership (Alexander Strauch), A Praying Life (Paul Miller). The pastoral interns also study our church’s confessional standards, though that is covered more extensively in our membership class.