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「你再唔改善,我就走!」

最近,幾位網友都提到陳榆在xanga上的這篇文章,所以我也不妨加入。

昨天跟孩子到一家禮儀教會崇拜。證道時,主任牧師提到收到兩封匿名信,投訴講壇之差勁。其中一封更講明若沒有改善,就會蟬過別枝。


這位投訴的會友,恐怕不止一人,也恐怕不止局限於一間教會吧。這些會友的想法,縱然普遍,卻有很大的神學偏差。歸納如下:
  1. 首先,講道的目的,非同神學課程,不是要叫會眾有得著,而是在於順服宣講。會眾在講道時的最基本責任,亦非學習,而是attend。敬拜之為敬拜,是我們對神的服侍,重點是我們的付出而非得著。而講道作為敬拜之一部份,原理亦一樣,重點是我們付出了甚麼,而不是得著了甚麼。如果期望在講道中有得著,則是將敬拜的主角從神轉移至會眾:牧師的講道成為了敬拜會眾而非敬拜神。這斷非神所喜悅的敬拜。上面的這種心態,有兩種implication:第一,會眾根本不consider聽道是敬拜;第二,會眾根本就不是在敬拜,而是在期望被敬拜。

  2. 誰有資格判定一位牧師講道的質素?首先,我們看到的只是信息的傳達,這在整個證道的職事裡只是其中一部份,那些看不到的,何以忽略?再者,講道是一門專業。不錯,現在有不少信徒讀過吓神學,但不代表他就有資格去評論他人的講道。外行批評內行,這是在任何一門認真的行業裡也是不容許的事。我在神學院教講道的老師,尚且存著謙卑的心去聆聽神在他的學生的課堂實習講道中有何話要說;在批評講道之先,何不先學會聽道?

  3. 沒有改善就走,這正是消費者心態的見證。但敬拜不是消費;教會也不是商店。教會乃是以約相連的群體,是弟兄姊妹,是家。家,是容不下消費主義的。你試試向你母親說,你煮的飯菜味道若再不改善,我就蟬過別枝,看看你母親會有何反應。你回家吃飯,不是因為飯菜好吃;教會聚集敬拜,也是一樣。將教會敬拜當成消費,就等如將婚姻當成嫖妓一樣可恥。


延伸閱讀:「消費者懺悔錄」,「新一代」季刊2008.2

原文出自市井觀天,畢基Xanga

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what if the preaching is really bad? what can the churchgoer do constructively about it?

首先我要問,甚麼是"really bad"的講道?

我認為,一篇講道好不好,最重要的不是delivery(例如悶不悶),而是講者有否忠心地研讀聖經和尋求神。而這是一般會眾看不到的。如果神可以透過一只驢來向巴蘭說話,神也可以透過任何一個講員向你說話。重點是,先謙卑聆聽,不要將焦點放在講者身上,而是神的話語身上。

如果你認為牧師沒有忠心事奉,以致講壇質素受影響的話,首先你應明白這是一個嚴重的指控,不可隨便出口。我會去了解,是甚麼攔阻了牧師的事奉?我作為會友並弟兄姊妹,我可以如何分擔牧師所遇到的困難?要知指控容易,但承擔卻更合神的心意。

延伸閱讀:

聽道不是聽課
http://worshipanew.blogspot.com/2008/08/blog-post_3264.html

聽道改變生命
http://worshipanew.blogspot.com/2008/08/blog-post_7401.html

thanks for your extended readings. i agree that the purpose of preaching is to proclaim God rather than for the congregation to gain something, and that the effect of preaching is not immediately or directly measurable. what i wonder is, how then do you as a preacher (or your professor) evaluate a sermon? what are the marks of a good sermon? is there such a thing as a bad sermon at all, and if so do bad sermons adversely affect the congregation in worship? also, does the listening congregation have a role to play in the preacher's development to become a better preacher? and is faithfulness in serving the only factor influencing whether a sermon is good or not?

i remember a pastor who taught me that even if i think a sermon is boring, God can still have something to say to me through the preacher, as long as the preacher is correctly handling the word of truth, and i believe it's true. i'm not talking about whether it's boring or not, though i see it's (sadly) a major concern for many people who complain about sermons. so one criterion might be: is the word of truth handled correctly--i.e., is the Bible text that the sermon derives from explained in a way that is true to its meaning?

you said "outsiders" are not qualified to judge "insiders". true to an extent--you can't say nobody but iron chefs know good food from bad, right? okay, maybe it's tru that most, if not all, of the congregation simply do not know enough to tell whether a sermon is good--true to the message of the Bible text or not, for one--and it's none of their business. but at least the congregation is expected to "hear what God has to say". what if bad quality sermons mean listeners cannot hear God speak?

from the extended reading: "...將神的偉大救恩故事宣講出來。這個動作本身已經能榮耀神,而不是要會眾又明白又領悟才能叫榮耀歸神。" my understanding of "proclaim" is to make known publicly; so proclamation involves understanding by a public audience. if the congregation cannot understand the proclamation, what good is it? God is glorified, yes, but for the preacher alone. how is it different from speaking in tongue without an interpreter? moreover, if the congregation does not understand, how can they participate in the act of worship by saying "amen"? how can their lives be changed without understanding the word of God? the extreme condition you mentioned is not a feature, it's a problem of the medieval church! that's why Martin Luther had to translate the Bible into German and preach in a language his congregation can understand.using Latin took the whole point of corporate worship out of the picture--that everyone worship God together--because it deprives the congregation of participating

in the act of worship meaningfully. it means that the congregation cannot glorify God in the worship because the preaching does not allow them to.

another thing: i am not trying to accuse the pastor of not serving God faithfully, and i don't see why you make such a connection. i think a preacher can be undoubtedly faithful to God while doing a bad job preaching--perhaps they are new and need more experience or practice; perhaps they got too busy taking care of the church they can't focus on preparing the sermon; perhaps nobody ever gives them constructive feedback since their internship or since they become the senior pastor, and they don't realize they're not getting the message across to the congregation. i don't know. again my question is, if a preacher is to improve, does their congregation have a role to play in that? if so, how?

to be fair, complaints about sermons seldom have to do with whether it is biblical or not, or whether God's message is being conveyed. people complain about monotone speaking, lack of "insights", length, lack of multimedia or other entertaining features, like those mentioned in the original GCF blog post. i guess your bottom line is that we don't appreciate preachers enough, and our focus in worship is on ourselves more than on God. that i agree. as to the issue about church shopping, i think there are probably more people doing it because they're self-focused and unwilling to give the commitment it takes to grow spiritually rather than because they need change. but there're also people who switch church because of God--to know him, love him and serve him better. should we look down on people simply because they switch church? is it always a bad thing? pls see the link in my other response to "Church shopaholics".

wow, this is probably the longest comments i ever got on this blog. congratulations on breaking a record.

i guess we are on the same page in a lot of the comments you make. I think my intent is to point out that there are too many Christians critiquing the pulpit from an entertainment perspective, and this trend is really hurting the church and encouraging the spiritual consumerism in church. I do not believe the vast majority of "laymen" have the expertise to properly critique a sermon, even though they have the "right" to ay whatever they want. Using your metaphor of Iron Chef, i think that's why we have so many garbage quality food commentaries in the media.

But yes, there are proper ways to critique a sermon. And I won't go into details here. Any preaching textbook will give you good resources. The issue that I want to tackle is that, as I say in my post today, we love "ideas" more than we love our preachers.

As congregation, we need to humbly listen, and we also need to love our preacher as brother and sister. The sad thing is, a lot of people just treated their pastors as spiritual service providers, no different than bank tellers or waiters.

Does the congregation have a role in nurturing a pastor? Of course. At least, love the pastor. Give him a save environment to grow and to learn, and not critique him as if you're his/her boss/customer. But don't think that you can "tutor" your pastor into a better preacher, unless you are better trained in preaching than your pastor.

The evangelical church, generally, places way too much emphasis on preaching as a worship element. We spend so much time discussing about the quality of preaching, but we don't ever discuss about the quality of the call-to-worship. To me, this is not really healthy.

And about the meaning of proclamation, and whether it makes sense to give a sermon that the congregation do not understand, I guess this is where I'm quite different from you theologically. And I do not intend to straighten out the differences here, as theologians have not been able to compromise for ages on this. We just need to live with differences.

And about changing church: if we believe that church is a big family, when God is calling someone from a church to move to another church for better ministry, i believe that calling will not only go the the one being called to move, but also to his/her original community so that they can "send" him out. If this didn't happen, I will really question the motivation behind the move. Remember, it is always a relational thing. The spiritual growth of a Christian is not merely the function of the environment. The question to ask is: do I switch because of me, or do I stay because of you? Rule of thumb: putting others first, always.

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