Augsburg Fortress

The Lutheran Handbook: A Field Guide to Church Stuff, Everyday Stuff, and the Bible

The Lutheran Handbook: A Field Guide to Church Stuff, Everyday Stuff, and the BibleThe Lutheran Handbook: A Field Guide to Church Stuff, Everyday Stuff, and the Bible

The essential field guide for all things Lutheran. Confirmands – or anyone hiking the trails of life's adventures and challenges – will want to pack this handy illustrated field guide to Lutheran theology and culture. This enjoyable, easy-to-read, reliable, all-in-one collection helps you understand the essential information about our theology, culture and Lutheran way of life. Organized by Church Stuff, Everyday Stuff and Bible Stuff with how-to's like "How to Forgive Someone" and lists like "The Top-10 Bible Villains." Encapsulates essential principles of the Christian life, making many of the complexities of our religious tradition accessible for contemporary seekers.

  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9780806651798
  • Publisher Augsburg Fortress
  • Pages 240
  • Release Date Mar 24, 2005


"This is a fun book that affirms that Lutherans can (and must!) continue to laugh at themselves! It takes God very seriously but helps the reader to 'lighten-up!' It reminds me of the quote, 'Laughter is another way of crossing ourselves!'

From the picture of Luther on the cover (is this his confirmation photo?) to the final pages of 'tongue in check' humor, these pages are a great mix of what life is all about — hurts and hoorays, Good Fridays and Easters, life and death, praying and playing! The only addition I would have made is to have each page contain a 'caution flag' that would state either, 'I'm serious' or 'I'm kidding!' to assist the reader to know how to react! I know many Lutherans who will spend an inordinate amount of time thinking whether or not they should laugh, cry, pray, or scratch their heads...and certainly look around to see if anyone else is looking before they respond accordingly!

I commend the editors and Augsburg for taking the Lord seriously enough to allow the Lord's followers to 'lighten-up' in the Lord of Laughter and Life! Let's continue to 'Pray, Play...and Give Thanks!"
— Dr. Rich Bimler, President, Wheat Ridge Ministries  

"In 264 pages, Lutheran theology and history is explained with a light touch, and Lutheran idiosyncrasies are explored — the appropriate potluck dishes to bring by region and 'how to survive an hour in an un-air-conditioned church'.... The editors offer advice on serious topics — 'how to forgive someone,' 'how to pray' and 'how to work for peace' — and breezy teaching aids — 'the top 10 Bible villains,' or 'the five grossest Bible stories.'"
— Karen Herzog, Bismark Tribune


Lutheran with a wink

By KAREN HERZOG, Bismarck Tribune

It could be a question on "The $10,000 Pyramid:" What do these people have in common? Hunters, birders, wildflower fanciers, Boy Scouts and Lutheran teens?

Answer: A field guide to help them identify and navigate their world.

"The Lutheran Handbook: A Field Guide to Church Stuff, Everyday Stuff and the Bible" ($14.99, Augsburg Fortress, 2005), uses the concept of a "field guide" as part of a new confirmation curriculum to teach teens Lutheran theology.

And a logo of a winking Martin Luther on the book cover clues readers in that its serious lessons about "grace" and theology are mixed with lighter pieces such as "how to avoid getting burned at the stake."

In 264 pages, Lutheran theology and history is explained with a light touch, and Lutheran idiosyncrasies are explored — the appropriate potluck dishes to bring by region and "how to survive an hour in an un-air conditioned church."

The editors offer advice on serious topics — "how to forgive someone," "how to pray" and "how to work for peace"— and breezy teaching aids — "the top 10 Bible villains," or "the five grossest Bible stories."

With its rounded corners and tough polyethylene cover, the book is meant to be knocked around, said Kristofer Skrade, development editor at Augsburg Fortress.

The book marks the launch of "Here We Stand," Augsburg's new confirmation series, as a humorous yet theologically sound approach to teaching early teens.

However, as Skrade said, "(while) aiming at confirmation students, the book hit a vein. Standing right behind our target was a whole bunch of adults."

Feedback from churches is that the book is being used in new member classes and basic adult education courses, he said. In fact, the demand for an adapted version for adults has been so strong that Augsburg is now working on that version, due out in December, Skrade said.

Several local Lutheran churches have seen samples of the book and are considering it for their confirmation programs. Ben Luger, youth minister at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Bismarck, said the church plans to use the materials along with others published by Augsburg.

"People are saying they like the humor," Skrade said. "I served in parishes for 10 years. People welcome a joke or a funny story because people can be so bound up about church — a little laughter feels 10 times better than other places.

"It's doing so well, we must have hit something right. It's breaking every record that we've ever set internally."

Released in March, the book is already in its fourth printing, said Bill Huff, publisher for congregational life and learning materials for Augsburg.

Since that time, the book has been in the "in stock" category for only six days, Skrade said. And now group orders are starting to come.

"It must resonate with people," he said.

The decision to produce the book started in October 2004, Huff said. Twenty-two writers were hired to produce the pieces, with input from Augsburg staff members.

Starting with a table of contents, the book became a collaborative process of winnowing some items out and adding others, he said.

Adopting a tone from the popular "survival guide" and "... for dummies" books, the result was a collection where every entry has educational value, even the humorous ones, Huff said.

Luther's Small Catechism, the core document for traditional confirmation instruction, is included in the book, plus some pragmatic advice on the issues of everyday life from a Lutheran theological base, such as "The Top 10 Attributes to Look for in a Spouse."

All items were vetted by pastors, theologians and professors, especially those of a more conservative stripe, to weed out things that might be offensive, Skrade said.

"For our audiences, there's exceptional value in people understanding what is Lutheran, what it is to be saved by grace," Huff said.

Part of the strategy was to make the book theologically accessible, Huff said. So substance is leavened with a dry wit and illustrations by Brenda Brown, who illustrates the "Worst-Case Scenario" series, Skrade said.

The feedback has been almost 100 percent positive, he said. "We've had people reading them on airplanes with people looking over their shoulders," he said.

For more information about the book, visit

(Reach Karen Herzog at 250-8267 or

Table of Contents

    This Book Belongs To
    About My Congregation

    Church Stuff
  • How to Get to Know Your Pastor
  • How to Survive for One Hour in an Un-Air-Conditioned Church
  • How to Respond When Someone Sits in Your Pew
  • How to Use a Worship Bulletin
  • How to Sing a Hymn
  • How to Sing a Praise Song
  • How to Listen to a Sermon
  • How to Respond to a Disruption during Worship
  • The Anatomy of a Baptism
  • How to Receive Communion
  • How to Pass the Plate
  • How to Share the Peace in Church
  • How to Stay Alert in Church
  • What to Bring to a Church Potluck (by Region)
  • Five Important Things the Lutheran Reformers Wrote (or Translated) and Why They're Still Important Today
  • Seven Important Things Luther Said (and One Funny One) and What They Meant
  • Five Things You Should Know about the Lutheran Reformation
  • Five Facts about Life in Medieval Times
  • History's Six Most Notorious Heretics
  • How to Avoid Getting Burned at the Stake

  • Charts and Diagrams
  • World Religions
  • Comparative Religions
  • Family Tree of Christianity
  • U.S. Christian Denominations
  • Comparative Denominations: Liturgical Churches
  • Comparative Denominations: Non-Liturgical Churches
  • The Seasons of the Church Year and What They Mean
  • The Seasons of the Church Year (diagram)
  • Martin Luther (portrait)
  • Luther's Germany (map)
  • Luther's Seal

  • Everyday Stuff
  • How to Tell the Difference Between the Law and the Gospel
  • How to Share Your Faith with Someone
  • How to Pray
  • How to Work for Peace and Justice on Behalf of People Who Are Poor and Oppressed
  • How to Identify a Genuine Miracle
  • Three Essential Personal Spiritual Rituals
  • How to Forgive Someone
  • How to Confess Your Sins and Receive Forgiveness
  • How to Make the Sign of the Cross (diagram)
  • How to Defend Your Faith against Attack
  • How to Resist Temptation
  • How to Care for the Sick
  • How to Identify and Avoid Evil
  • How to Avoid Gossip
  • How to Bless Someone
  • How to Resolve Interpersonal Conflict
  • How to Console Someone
  • How to Cope with Loss and Grief
  • The Top 10 Attributes to Look for in a Spouse
  • How to Banish the Devil from Your Presence
  • How to Be Saved (by Grace through Faith and Not by Your Good Works)
  • How to Reform the Church When It Strays from the Gospel
  • How to Tell a Sinner from a Saint (diagram)
  • How to Encounter the Holy Trinity as One God in Three Persons
  • How to Become a Theologian of the Cross (and Avoid Being a Theologian of Glory)

  • Bible Stuff
  • Common Translations of the Bible
  • 60 Essential Bible Stories
  • How to Read the Bible
  • How to Memorize a Bible Verse
  • The Top 10 Bible Villains
  • The Top 10 Bible Heroes
  • The Three Most Rebellious Things Jesus Did
  • The Seven Funniest Bible Stories
  • The Five Grossest Bible Stories
  • Five Facts about Life in Old Testament Times
  • Ten Important Things that Happened between the Old and New Testaments
  • Five Facts about Life in New Testament Times
  • The Five Biggest Misconceptions about the Bible
  • Jesus' Twelve Apostles (Plus Judas and Paul)
  • The Five Weirdest Laws in the Old Testament
  • The Top 10 Bible Miracles and What They Mean

  • Maps and Diagrams
  • The Exodus
  • The Holy Land-Old Testament Times
  • The Holy Land-New Testament Times
  • Paul's Journeys
  • Jerusalem in Jesus' Time
  • Noah's Ark
  • The Ark of the Covenant
  • Solomon's Temple
  • The Armor of God
  • The Passion and Crucifixion

  • Luther's Small Catechism
  • The Ten Commandments
  • The Apostles' Creed
  • The Lord's Prayer
  • The Sacrament of Holy Baptism
  • Confession
  • The Sacrament of Holy Communion
  • Morning and Evening Prayer
  • Blessings at Meals

  • Notes & Stuff