The Lexham Ministry Guides offer practical, proven wisdom for the church. Edited by Harold L. Senkbeil, these books will help you better serve the Savior’s sheep and lambs with confidence. In this interview with Senkbeil and Lexham Academic Editor Todd Hains, we discuss the vision for this series and how it stands out against other ministry books.
Lexham Press: What are your hopes for the Lexham Ministry Guides (LMG) series? How is it different from other ministry books?
Harold Senkbeil: Bookstores are full of “practical” books on applied ministry, and that’s good. With the complexity of our contemporary world we pastors need all the help we can get. The LMG series as it is envisioned will combine the best of both theology and ministry. Each concise volume will be soundly rooted in biblical theology yet at the same time chock full of helpful ideas on how those roots can inform ministry to Christ’s sheep and lambs. Todd and I are looking for authors from many faith traditions who can bridge the gap between those two polarities, transparently sharing their personal insights without riding private hobby horses. There are plenty of “expert” prima donnas around; we’re looking for genuine shepherds of souls.
Todd Hains: These books are small and personal.
Pastors don’t necessarily need big, fat books on their vocation. We’re all busy, but pastors, especially so! In Jesus’ hands the wisdom of a faithful, tested pastor is no different than the five loaves and two fish of that unnamed boy in John 6: it will multiply and grow. And that’s the goal of the LMG series—to share the wisdom of pastors with other pastors. These books will water and plant, trusting that God alone grants the growth.
That brings me to one distinctive that’s especially dear to me: prayer. Many books are conceived and written with prayer, but rare is the book with prayer baked into it. Each of these books begins with a short order of prayer focused on the topic of the book.
These books take seriously Paul’s word to Timothy: all things are made holy by God’s word and prayer.
LP: What kinds of topics can we expect to see covered in this series?
Hains: The first three—Pastoral Leadership, Funerals, and Stewardship—will be followed by Pastoral Visitation and Spiritual Warfare. Some of the topics farther out are: preaching, forgiveness, evangelism, church planting, church discipline, church music, and technology. Worship and prayer are two topics I’m especially excited to see get contracted.
We’ve got quite a list—and Hal keeps threatening to add to it!
LP: Each book in the series is subtitled “for the care of souls.” How is this series connected to The Care of Souls?
Senkbeil: I’ve come to believe that faithful ministry in every changing era is anchored deeply in the soul care tradition inherited from the church’s earliest days. While we want our authors to play their strong suits, we expect that each of them will demonstrate how multifaceted ministry flows from and leads back to guarding, guiding, tending, and feeding the sheep purchased by Christ’s own blood.
LP: What do you most enjoy doing with your time, Hal?
Senkbeil: In this last phase of ministry, in retirement, I’m blessed with being able to focus on my first vocation—being husband to my beloved wife Jane, who is currently on home hospice care. That means I get to devote the lion’s share of my time to care giving for the most important person in my world. At the same time, LMG plus some other projects I’m working on for Lexham enables me to invest a good share of each week to the written transmission of any wisdom I’ve gained in fifty years of ministry to those who will come after me. What’s not to like?
LP: What do you most enjoy about working with Todd?
Senkbeil: He’s the real deal: scholarship, editorial genius, fun and wit wrapped in a warm and generous spirit. Todd and I have had a couple of minor tugs of war over how things should be said in print, and with him the reader always wins. Begrudgingly, I must admit that he was right—mostly! Seriously, Todd is an author’s dream editor. He’s not fussy on minor things, yet consistently forces you toward greater clarity in language that engages, informs, and inspires. A real bonus is his eye for quality and beauty; thanks to Todd and the editorial team he works with, Lexham books are both attractive and substantive—designed for the long haul. The Lexham Ministry Guides series is no exception; we’re planning that these books will be ‘go to’ resources for decades to come!
LP: What do you enjoy most about working with Harold (Hal)?
Hains: Friendship. Hal and I have worked together for three years. But it feels like much longer! Hal patiently responds to emails, texts, and calls. He’s visited Bellingham once, and I badly owe him a visit to Waukesha.
There’s a pastoral tint to our friendship. I’m often aware that I’m receiving quite a lot more care than I’m giving. Hal patiently listened to me kvetch and stress about my own writing, and he has cheered me on. He’s supported me through some painful church experiences. He also shares his deep knowledge of hymnody, chorales, and the liturgy. In many ways Hal pastors me.