Basic Christian Library

Bible: A reliably translated and easy to read version is the English Standard Version (ESV). Study Bibles include added notes that help to explain the Bible. A great ESV study Bible is this one:

Concordance: A concordance is a listing of all the words found in the Bible and where to find them. It is best to have an exhaustive concordance, one that lists every word in the Bible, rather than just the most commonly looked up words. If possible, get a concordance that matches the version of the Bible you most often use.

Bible Reference Tools: Because the Bible was written in such a different time and place from our own, it is helpful to have resources like a Bible dictionary and a Bible atlas on hand.

Small Catechism: Martin Luther wrote the Small Catechism almost five hundred years ago as a resource to help parents and pastors teach the basics of faith. Recent English copies include extra explanations that make the catechism even more helpful as a teaching and learning tool.

  • Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation. St Louis: Concordia, 1986, 1991. This catechism is available in an NIV version and an ESV version. Choose the one that matches the Bible version you most often use.

Book of Concord: The Book of Concord is a collection of statements of faith written by Lutheran Christians in the sixteenth century when they were risking their lives to stand up for the Bible being the basis of belief and practice in the Church. It was first published in 1580. A great new English version with helpful introductions and explanations is now available.


Hymnal: A hymnal is an excellent resource for worship and prayer at home as well as at church. Take a look in the table of contents of the hymnals at your church and notice all of the resources they contain in addition to settings for worship (Divine Service) and hymns. Having a hymnal at home will also enrich your Sunday worship experience by giving you and your family the opportunity to become more familiar with the contents of the hymnal when you have more time and fewer distractions than we commonly have at church on Sundays. Your pastor is a great resource to help you choose and purchase a hymnal for your home.

Resources for Prayer and Devotions

  • Concordia Psalter. St. Louis: Concordia, 2015. A modern psalter that presents the Bible’s ancient hymns for recitation and singing. Short prayers accompany each psalm.
  • Kinnaman, Scot, ed. Treasury of Daily Prayer. St. Louis: Concordia, 2008. A collection of Bible readings, prayers, psalms, hymns, and devotional readings from the Church Fathers, designed to be an all-in-one resource for daily devotions for individuals, families, and small groups.
  • Portals of Prayer. A quarterly devotional booklet with short daily devotions and prayers. Many congregations purchase copies in bulk and have them available at the church. If your congregation does not have copies available, you can order a subscription through Concordia Publishing House.
  • Weedon, William, ed. Starck’s Prayer Book: Revised Concordia Edition. A book of timeless prayers and devotions for the many circumstances of life.


About Worship


Seasons and Symbols of the Church

Life as a Christian

  • Kleinig, John. Grace upon Grace: Spirituality for Today. St. Louis: Concordia, 2008. The author clarifies that there is no process for becoming spiritual. Instead, God graciously gives to us every spiritual gift that we need, beginning with the very gift of faith in Christ, our Savior. Because God has joined us to Christ, He continually comes to give us life.
  • Preus, Klemet I. The Fire and the Staff: Lutheran Theology in Practice. St. Louis: Concordia, 2004. Engagingly written with great stories and anticdotes, this book applies the basics of Lutheran theology in ways that make sense and are understandable by the average Christian.
  • Senkbeil, Harold L. Dying to Live: The Power of Forgiveness. St. Louis: Concordia, 1994. Describes how God makes people more like Jesus as they hear and read the Bible and participate in the Sacraments (Baptism and Holy Communion).
  • Senske, Kurt. The Calling: Live a Life of Significance. St. Louis: Concordia, 2010. What is your purpose in life? What is God calling you to do? This book combines biblical wisdom with secular strategies to educate you on living a life of meaning and significance in all areas of life – family, professional, community, and congregational.
  • Veith, Gene Edward, Jr. God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life. Redesign. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2011. Explains the concept of vocation: how God is at work in everything we are called to do, not only in our careers but also in our families, hobbies, and every other part of our lives.
  • Veith, Gene Edward, Jr. The Spirituality of the Cross. Revised ed. St. Louis: Concordia, 2010. Veith explores and presents a true understanding of justification by faith, the Means of Grace, vocation, theology of the cross, the two kingdoms, worship, and the Church.
  • Milestone Books. St. Louis, Concordia. These easy-to-read books present and teach the gifts that God gives at four of the milestone events in the life of a Christian and connects the event with the worship life and liturgy of the Church:

Rooted in the Faith (2010), gives a summary of the Christian faith and prepares the reader to make a public confession of that faith as part of becoming a member of a Christian congregation.

United in Christ (2010) uses the rite of Holy Matrimony to instruct and prepare a couple for life together as a Christian couple.

The Baptism of Your Child (2007) presents parents with the great importance of Holy Baptism and raising children in the faith received in Baptism. The liturgy of Holy Baptism becomes a wonderful teacher of the great gift God  gives through water and the Word.

Final Victory (2010) contemplates the death and funeral of a Christian; truly the final milestone of life in this world. This book is designed for those who have lost or will lose a loved one, as well as those Christians who are preparing for their own death.


The following movies are great learning tools that help bring history to life. Be aware, though, that they all include violence that would not be appropriate for children.

  • Luther, MGM, 2003. A biography of Martin Luther, including important events surrounding the Reformation.
  • The Nativity Story, New Line Home Video, 2007. The story of Jesus’ birth.
  • The Passion of the Christ, 20th Century Fox, 2004. The story of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion.


Theology and History

  • The Church from Age to Age: A History from Galilee to Global Christianity. St. Louis: Concordia, 2011. This extensive, easy-to-read resources takes you from the beginnings of Christianity to today.
  • Engelbrecht, Edward, ed. To All Eternity: The Essential Teachings of Christianity. St. Louis: Concordia, 2001. A beautifully illustrated devotional edition of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism.
  • Baker, Robert, ed. Lutheran Spirituality. St. Louis: Concordia, 2010. This book is a how-to for Lutherans wanting more out of their spiritual life written by respected Lutheran scholars. It will help leaders in the church discover reachable goals to strengthen their own faith and help others grow strong as well.
  • Koehler, Edward. A Summary of Christian Doctrine. Rev. by A. Koehler. St. Louis: Concordia, 2005. This systematic study of the doctrines of Scripture is presented in a concise, comprehensive manner. It is an excellent text for those interested in going beyond the catechism.
  • Lehmann, Charles. Lutheranism 101: Holy Baptism. St. Louis: Concordia, 2013. An overview of what Baptism is, what it does, how it does that, and what it means for our lives now and into the future.
  • Wieting, Kenneth. Lutheranism 101: The Lord’s Supper. St. Louis: Concordia, 2012. Examines what Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions have to say about Jesus’ gift of His true body to eat and His true blood to drink.

Martin Luther


Resources for Children

Bible Stories

  • Arch Books. Various titles and authors. St. Louis: Concordia. This series of Bible story books is written in poem form with lively illustrations and is geared for 5- to 9-year-olds.
  • Engelbrecht, Edward and Gail Pawlitz. The Story Bible: 130 Stories of God’s Love. St. Louis: Concordia, 2011. This book includes rich, realistic illustrations, easy-to-read stories, discussion helps, prayer summaries, and a glossary of key terms. Ages 3 and up.
  • Schkade, Jonathan. Icky Sticky, Hairy Scary Bible Stories. St. Louis: Concordia, 2010. The stories in the Bible are not always nice and happy. Some are messy and dangerous. Some are about foolish, strange, or awful things. This collection of short, funny poems is sure to capture the attention of any reader. Each poem shows that God works in the ugly, icky, gross world we live in and helps us out of our messes.
  • Simon, Mary Manz. Hear Me Read Series. St. Louis: Concordia. There are two reading levels in this series of Bible story books designed for beginning readers. Level 1 is for 2- to 6-year-olds and level 2 is for 5- to 9-year olds.
  • Henley, Karyn. The Beginner’s Bible: Timeless Children’s Stories. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005. This Bible combines colorful, interesting pictures and age-appropriate telling of a large number of important Old and New Testament Bible stories. It is a great introduction to the Bible for 4- to 8-year-olds.
  • One Hundred Bible Stories. St. Louis: Concordia, 2004. Designed for older children with more grown-up looking illustrations (one per story). After each story, there is a suggested Bible memory verse and a “for reflection” section to help children think about, remember, and apply the story to their own lives—for 8- to 12-year-olds.
  • Phonetic Bible Story Series. Various titles and authors. St. Louis: Concordia. The books in this series help beginning readers practice phonics while reading interesting Bible stories with colorful pictures—for 2- to 6-year-olds.

Study Bibles

  • Faith Alive Student Bible. St. Louis: Concordia, 1995, 2006, ESV 2011. Includes age-appropriate study notes and diagrams to help 8- to 14-year-olds understand the Bible and apply it to their lives.
  • Concordia’s Complete Bible Handbook for Students. St. Louis: Concordia, 2011. An in-depth look at each book of the Bible, exploring people, significant places, customs, traditions, and life in Bible times.


  • Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation. St Louis: Concordia, 1986, 1991. This catechism is available in an NIV version and an ESV version. Choose the one that matches the Bible version you most often use.
  • My First Catechism. St. Louis: Concordia, 2004. Written in kid-friendly language with classic pictures and Bible-story examples used to help children ages 6 to 10 learn the basics of faith, including the Ten Commandments, Lord’s Prayer, and Apostles’ Creed.
  • Timeless Bible Truths: The Illustrated Small Catechism. St. Louis: Concordia, 2010. This short graphic novel is a fun and easy way for students of all ages to learn basics of faith like the Lord’s Prayer and Ten Commandments.
  • Walker, Joni. Follow and Do Series. St. Louis: Concordia. A set of six picture books that introduce 4- to 7-year-olds to the Six Chief Parts of Luther’s Small Catechism. Titles of the books are The Apostles’ Creed, Confession, Holy Baptism, The Lord’s Supper, God’s Ten Commandments, and The Lord’s Prayer.


Other Books

  • Bergt, Carolyn. The Adventures of Martin Luther. St. Louis: Concordia, 1999. A picture book telling the story of Martin Luther at a level appropriate for 5- to 13-year-olds.
  • Groth, Jeanette L. Prayer: Learning How to Talk to God. St. Louis: Concordia, 2002. Teaches 4- to 7-year-olds about prayer, including what prayer is and different elements of prayer, such as praise, thanking, asking for forgiveness, help, or guidance.
  • Marxhausen, Joanne. 3 in 1: A Picture of God. St. Louis: Concordia, 2004. Explains the Trinity (that there is one God in three persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) at a level that is appropriate for small children 5 years and older.
  • Wittenback, Janet. God Makes Me His Child in Baptism. St. Louis: Concordia, 2007. Children learn about what happens the day a person is baptized and what Baptism means for the rest of a person’s life and eternally—3 years and older.

Devotional Magazines

Some congregations order copies of these magazines and distribute them to children in the congregation. If your congregation does not have copies available, you can subscribe to them and have them delivered to your home.

  • Happy Times. St. Louis: Concordia. A monthly magazine for 3- to 5-year-olds filled with Christian stories, poems, and activities.
  • My Devotions. St. Louis: Concordia. A quarterly magazine for 8- to 12-year-olds designed to resource parents and to help children develop a habit of daily devotions. There is a Bible verse, devotional message that helps children to apply the verse to their lives, journal suggestion, and a prayer for each day.


Amanda offers these great additions:
I would include some music in my basic library. I love that the hymnal is already on here, but I think some recorded music is also beneficial–I like “Heirs of the Reformation” and “Martin Luther: Hymns, Ballads, Chants, Truth.”

For the children’s list, I’d have to include pretty much everything written by Paul Maier. We have read “The Real Story” series [The Real Story of Creation, The Real Story of the Exodus, The Real Story of the Flood], “The Very First” series [The Very First Christmas, The Very First Easter, The Very First Christians], and “Martin Luther: A Man Who Changed the World” over and over with our children, and they’ve never tired of hearing those stories.  “The Mouse Prints Journey Through the Church Year” series is also great for introducing children to the way the liturgical church year is organized, but I don’t think that those books are available any more [Ed.: yes these are out of print, but certainly able to found on my used book sites].


2 Responses to Basic Christian Library

  1. Pingback: Basic Christian Library | Amanda

  2. Kyle Wright says:

    Many thanks. Always looking for good resources and books. Being a lay man on a budget (aren’t we all), identifying the right resources is an imperative. I have a lot of what is on this listing, but I also found some very interesting books that I don’t have and are right up my alley for furthe reading.

    This catalog not only provides a reference for the individual, but for a congregation, church library, or reference for pastor’s when asked by their or questions come up in church.

    Keep up the excellent work.

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