Concordia Theological Seminary – Fort Wayne, IN


Concordia Theological Seminary – Fort Wayne, IN

Dr. John Pless

  • Assistant Professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions

(260) 452-2271


John T. Pless was born in Hickory, North Carolina, to John A. and Betty Pless. He is a graduate of Texas Lutheran College in Seguin, Texas (B.A in Theology and Philosophy) and Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio (Master of Divinity). He entered the ministry of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod by colloquy in 1983. From 1979-1983 he was on the pastoral staff at the Chapel of the Resurrection at Valparaiso University. He served as campus pastor at University Lutheran Chapel in Minneapolis from 1983-2000 when he was called to the faculty of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne where he still serves as assistant professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions and the director of Field Education. He was awarded an honorary doctorate (D.Litt.) by Concordia University – Chicago in 2018.

In addition to his work at Fort Wayne, Professor Pless has served as a visiting professor of practical theology at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Pretoria, South Africa. He frequently lectures at seminaries and pastoral conferences in Madagascar, the Philippines, India, Japan, Sweden, Norway and Indonesia. He is also the Luther Academy Fellow for Madagascar.

He was a founding editor of Logia: A Lutheran Journal of Theology in 1992 and continued as a book review editor for that journal until 2017. He is a member of the board of editorial advisers for Lutheran Quarterly. Professor Pless is the author or editor of twelve books, as well as many articles and chapters in theological journals and books. Several of these books have been translated into German, Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Turkish, Portuguese and Chinese. Most recently, he contributed fourteen entries to the new Dictionary of Luther and the Lutheran Traditions, edited by Timothy Wengert (Baker Academic, 2017), and four essays in The Encyclopedia of Martin Luther and the Reformation, edited by Mark Lamport (Rown & Littefield 2017).

He was on the Agenda Committee for Lutheran Service Book and he served as one of the primary drafters for the Synod’s revision of Martin Luther’s Catechism with Explanation (2017). Over the years he has served on several LCMS boards, committees and task forces. He is currently chairman of the Synod’s Commission on Doctrinal Review and he represents the Synod in official dialogues with the North American Lutheran Church. He served two terms as president of the English-language section of the International Wilhelm Loehe Society. In 2013, his former students recognized his 60th birthday with a festschrift, Theology is Eminently Practical: Essays in Honor of John T. Pless, edited by Jacob Corzine and Bryan Wolfmueller.

Works of Note

Collected Writings


Passion Vespers Sermon – Christ Lutheran, Rochester MN – April 3, 2011
St. Timothy Chapel, LTS, Tshwane, S. Africa – Thurs in Sexagesima Week 3, March 2011
Circuit Reformation Service, Redlands, CA – Feast of the Reformation
Wyoming District Pastoral Conference – Monday in Trinity 18
20th Anniversary of the Ordination of Rev Mart Thompson
125th Anniversary of Zion Lutheran Church
The Ordination of Chad Hoover
The Ordination of Holger Sonntag
The Ordination of Bryce Wandrey
The Ordination of David Young
The Ordination of Brian Thorson
The Ordination of Derek Roberts
The Ordination of Keith Reeder
The Ordination of Christopher Burger
The Wedding of Christopher Raffa & Julie Shapely
The Ordination of Michael Grieve
The Ordination of Warrens Berger
The Ordination of Nathan Raddatz
The Ordination of Jacob Gaugert
The Ordination of Michael Holmen
The Ordination of Paul Doellinger
The Ordination of Ryan Cramer
The Ordination of Jordan McKinley
The Ordination of Andy Wright
The Installation of Rev. Steve Kieser
The Installation of Rev. Jason Lane
Reformation Sunday 2011


Book Reviews

Authority Vested: A Story of Identity and Change in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
Confession and Mission, Word and Sacrament: The Ecclesial Theology of Wilhelm Loehe
Law, Life, and the Living God: The Third Use of the Law in Modern American Lutheranism
The Lonely Way: Selected Essays and Letters Volume I (1927-1939)
Reflections on The Purpose Driven Life in Light of the Doctrine of Vocation
By Faith Alone: Essays on Justification in Honor of Gerhard O. Forde
The Role of Justification in Contemporary Theology


Seminary Course Material

Pastoral Formation: Oratio, Meditatio, Tentatio
Annotated Bibliograhy on Pastoral Formation
EXT 411 Psalm in Pastoral Theology Bibliography
PMM 142 Lutheran Worship Prospectus
PMM 142 Divine Service: Preparation & Service Of The Word
PMM 142 Divine Service: Service Of The Sacrament
PMM 225 Church Year
PMM 225 Church Year Bibliography
PMM 243 Parish Education
PMM P261 Pastor’s Devotional Life
PMM 446 Theological Ethics
PMM 446 What Are Theological Ethics?
READER’S GUIDE: The Quest for Holiness by Adolph Koeberle
A Study Guide for A Cup Of Cold Water: A Look At Biblical Charity
Study Guide: The Hammer of God by Bo Giertz (Revised Edition)
A Study Guide for Luther on Vocation by Gustaf Wingren
Study Guide for Good and Bad Ways to Think about Religion and Politics by Robert Benne
Study Notes on The Freedom of the Christian by Martin Luther


Advent Preaching Seminar 2010

Suggested Reading in Preparation for Advent Preaching Seminar
Presentation: Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Presentation: Gerhard Ebeling
Presentation: Helmut Thielicke



A.L. Barry- A Letter for Lutheran Forum
A Curriculum From and For the Church
A Seminary Response to Blacksburg
Liturgy and the Divine Service
Ceremonies For Seekers: Catechesis As A Fundamental Criterion For Worship In The Lutheran Confessions
The Divine Service and the Mission of the Church
Divine Service: Delivering Forgiveness of Sins
The Great Vigil of Easter
Healing through the Liturgy: The Rites of Pastoral Care
Hermann Sasse and the Liturgical Movement
Liturgy and Evangelism in Service of the Mysteria Dei
Liturgy and Pietism: Then and Now
The Lord’s Service To Us
Taking The Divine Service Into The Week: Liturgy And Vocation
This is the Word of the Lord
What Your Eating and Drinking at this Altar Confesses
Paper – The Lord’s Supper in the Life of the Congregation
Can We Participate Liturgically in the Atonement?
At Home in God’s House
Towards a Confessional Lutheran Understanding of the Liturgy
Miscellaneous Confessional Theology
Löhe as Pastoral Theologian: The Discipline of the Shepherd
The Lively Use of Loehe: Kenneth Korby’s Contribution to a Renewed Reception of His Pastoral Theology in The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
Learning Justification by Faith Alone in Madagascar
Preparing for Marriage – A Study Guide
The Hammer of God as Catechesis
Holy Lord … Holy Gifts … Holy People
Lutheran Confessionalism: Doctrine and Practice
Shaping a Congregation’s Self-awareness as a Baptizing Community
Vocation and Evangelism
Your Pastor is not Your Therapist-Private Confession: The Ministry of Repentence and Faith
Contemporary Lutheran Ethicists
The Christian Ethos by Werner Elert
2004 Confessional Symposium Paper
Cornerstone Article: In Sync with the Catechism
The Use and Misuse of Luther in Contemporary Debates on Homosexuality: A Look at Two Theologians
Fidelity to the Catechism: In Prayer and Teaching
Wilhelm Loehe and the Missouri Synod
The Gifts of the Spirit: Spirituality or Vocation?
Aphorisms On Preaching
Gustaf Wingren’s Luther On Vocation: Creation and Cross
Confession and Absolution: Justification by Faith in Action
“Dear Christians, One and All Rejoice”
The Psalter and the Lord’s Prayer
The Saxon Visitation (1528): Insights for Contemporary Lutheran Church Life
Baptism as Consolation in Luther’s Pastoral Care
Learning From Luther How To Preach In Advent And Christmas
Prayer: The Voice of Faith
Campus Ministry
Apologetics on the Postmodern Campus
Lutheran Missiology and Campus Ministry