The Hospital Chaplaincy 醫療院牧

The Hospital Chaplaincy
Rev. Henry Wong

I pastored a church for 16 years after seminary graduation in 1988, but resigned in the spring of 2004. I was burnt out and suffered from depression. I had no clue what I will do after being a pastor all my life. One day I had lunch with a friend who did an extended unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) with me back in 1998, without hesitation she suggested, “You need to do CPE!” She went even further to say that she would call the Director of the Clinical Pastoral Education Program (CPE) at the California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) for me. CPMC was the hospital where I did my extended unit in 1998, I had such a bad experience that I vowed never to do CPE again.

My friend did talk to Dr. Kenny, the CPE Program Director, and he asked me to submit an application for the 2014-2015 CPE Residency. I was very late in applying and was rejected because they had chosen their residents already, but they will keep my application on file in case someone drops out and they needed a replacement. One late October afternoon Dr. Kenny called, “Are you ready for CPE?” I was not sure; I was scared! With no other ministry opportunities in the horizon, and not ready for another church, I “close my eyes” and stepped back into CPMC to be a Chaplain Resident in November of 2004. I ended up completing 2 years of CPE instead of the normal one year program.

CPE was exactly the medicine that a wounded soul like mine needed. I had “hit bottom” in my career and in my faith journey. I had nothing to lose, and was willing to try anything. In CPE, each intern honestly examines their own life story, and work with supervisors and colleagues on processing and reconciling experiences that have wounded them or negatively impacted their lives. I worked on mending my inner life. I worked on my relationship with God. I worked on my anger towards God. I worked on grieving my losses in life. I worked on healing and reconciling as a wounded minister. The healing work was accomplished with weekly journaling, reflection, supervision and covenant groups. Chaplains are wounded healers whom have suffered hurts themselves and have honestly sought healing themselves.

All my life, I have been slow to recognize the hand of God, but God loves me and was always there for me even when I felt He had abandoned me. As I looked back on my life, God showed up in the dark and lonely places time and again. It was the grace of God that saved me and sustained me. Many a time I stumbled onto God’s grace and His plan for me. I didn’t know that I could be a chaplain, but God intervened and I happened to stumble onto His grace again. There was never a clear calling that I wanted to be a chaplain. I might not be who I am and be a chaplain today had my friend not taken things into her own hands and called Dr. Kenny. It was Dr. Kenny who saw my gifts as a chaplain, and held me accountable to grow and develop during the CPE years. When I failed or doubted my own ability, Dr. Kenny would once again tell me that I have the gifts to be a good chaplain. Even so, but it was God who directed my story.

Here are suggestions for finding out more about becoming a chaplain:

1. Find out more about your spiritual gifts and your personality. Complete a spiritual gifts inventory to find out what your unique gifts are. Do you know your own personality? If not, take the Meyers-Brigg Type Test to see which of the sixteen types you are. Three Biblical passages talked about spiritual gifts: Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, and 1 Peter 4:11. Be careful with the 1 Corinthians passage because it really is focusing on gifts in the context of ministry in a church rather than the secular world. Therefore, having “gifts of healings, miracles, distinguishing between spirits” might not necessarily be “good” gifts to have as a chaplain. Mercy and service are two gifts often found among chaplains. Others will affirm your gifts if you seek honest advice, plus you will exercise your gifts effectively in your serving with satisfaction.

2. Seeking God’s will on your calling. First vital question is, “Do you feel called to serve others and/or serve God?” If your answer is “Yes”, then you can delve deeper into the nature and direction of your call. If you are interested in being a chaplain or doing pastoral care/counseling, ask those who know you well and love you “how do you see me as a minister to people who need help or in difficult situations?” People honest with you will give you a clear picture of who you are and what you need to do to continue the seeking process.

3. Find out more about the process of becoming a Professional Chaplain and the nature of their work.

a. Talk with chaplains in healthcare and civil settings about what they do. There are many kinds of chaplains, some are paid and others volunteer. There are healthcare chaplains, military chaplains, law enforcement and fire department chaplains, disaster relief chaplains, and so on. Find out what the similarities and differences among them are. For example, Dr. Rev. Lawrence Au, retired pastor of San Bruno Chinese Church, has been a San Francisco Police and FBI Chaplain for many years. He’s a good resource person to talk to for advice.

b. Visit a Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Center in the hospitals in your area to see what it is all about and how you feel about being a chaplain. You can find a list of accredited CPE Centers by visiting www.acpe.edu.

c. Volunteer in local hospitals or hospice to get firsthand experience caring for the sick and dying. Most hospices have a volunteer program that allow you to visit the dying patient and support family at home or in a facility. Other fine organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area with volunteering opportunities include the Herald Cancer Care (www.heraldcancercare.org) and the Heart of Hope Hospice (www.heartofhopehospice.org) in the San Francisco Bay Area.

d. Be a lay pastor in your church, visit the homebound and elderly members and seekers of your church.

e. Necessary and vital step. Enroll in a one year accredited CPE program to be trained as a chaplain. Many pastors and Christians think they have what it takes to be a chaplain because they assumed that they already have the gifts and skills needed, had received seminary training, ministered in the church and have it in their belief system. The truth is, many church pastors and Christians possess caring skills/techniques (what chaplains do) but not necessary a caring self (what a chaplain is to be). While CPE provides ample opportunities for one ministering to people in various illnesses and health crises, the most important part is to train your inner life as a chaplain. Chaplain work is “one life impacting another life” ministry, using one’s self, stories and experiences to walk with others in their pain and darkness. The important element in chaplaincy is to be “present” with those in suffering, not to sugar coat the present reality with words or activities. I like the term “soul friend” in describing a chaplain. CPE helped me to see myself honestly, and become aware of how my feelings, attitudes, biases, attitudes, beliefs and value systems colored me from seeing others as they are, and shielded me from being truly present to them. It is important that one learn to be patient-centered in patient care rather than chaplain-centered. It’s not “what I need to do or say” so I can feel successful with my visit; it’s “what they need” from me, even if I don’t have an answer for what they are going through. It is an incarnational ministry modelled after Jesus’ ministry, entering into the struggling soul of another person, and willing to walk with him through the valley of the shadow of death. On the practical side, many healthcare institutions are requiring 1 year of CPE as part of the qualification for their chaplain positions. Being trained in CPE also is a way for the chaplains to uphold their professional standards and qualifications.

4. Try it out.

Once you completed your CPE training, you are eligible to be employed as a chaplain in healthcare. You will learn more about the job and whether you truly are suitable for the work of a chaplain in the job.

The next step after employment is to seek ecclesiastical endorsement by the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), or the denomination you are affiliated with. Denominational endorsement is one of many requirements leading to the Board Certification. SBC has many resources to support chaplains. There are many types of chaplains in the SBC. You can find information and resources at the NAMB website: www.namb.net/chaplaincy.

One should follow up denominational endorsement with board certification by a professional chaplain board. It is the “license” for professional chaplains, recognized by all healthcare institutions. The largest certification organization is run by the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC), there are other certifying organizations available, catering to different specialties, religious value and preferences.

My calling as a chaplain that began twelve years ago after I was done with the pastorate was affirmed during my training in CPE and in my work as a hospice chaplain up to now. I have been endorsed by the SBC and NAMB as their healthcare chaplain since 2009, and has been board certified by APC since 2011. Of course, equally rewarding is when patients, families and colleagues recognize me for the meaningful work that I do!

Postscript:  One other important detail I need to point out about being a chaplain outside the church is, healthcare chaplaincy in North America is an interfaith ministry, which means chaplains provide spiritual care to all patients regardless of their religious affiliation. We don’t share our faith unless permission is given by patients and families. My take is that Jesus’ ministry was not exclusive but inclusive. He came for all, and His truth and grace is available to all. At the very least, people experience God’s compassion and support when they need it the most because we represent a God who is love.

(Rev. Henry Wong worships at the San Bruno Chinese Church in the San Francisco Bay Area, California.)

 

醫療院牧

1988 年神學院畢業後, 我在一間教會牧會了16 年, 但在 2004 年春天辭職了。 我感到疲憊不堪 , 患了抑鬱症。 我對前面的路很渺茫因為當了牧師一輩子的我不知還可做什麼。 有一天 , 我和一位朋友一起吃午飯, 在1998 年她和我一起參加了一個臨床牧關教育訓練課程(Clinical Pastoral Education 簡稱CPE), 她毫不猶豫地建議說 : “你需要再參加 CPE課程!”她甚至更進一步說她會打電話給 California Pacific Medical Center ( 簡稱CPMC) CPE 課程的主任。CPMC 是我在 1998 年參加這課程的醫院, 但在那裡有不開心的經歷。我發誓以後再不參加CPE 課程。

我的朋友與肯尼博士談過 , 他要求我提交一份 2014-2015 的 CPE 申請表。 我申請的時候很晚 , 因為他們已經額滿,我被拒絕了, 但是他們會把我的申請歸檔作候補名單。十月的一個下午, 肯尼博士電話說: “你準備好了嗎?”實際上我不確定,我甚至感到害怕! 但是似乎沒有其他機會, 我也沒有準備好去另一間教會事奉 , 於是我“閉上眼睛”, 回到 CPMC, 在 2004 年 十一月成為實習院牧。最後, 這常規一年時間的課程, 我花了兩年時間完成 。

CPE 正是我所需要的, 它是那種可以醫治受傷心靈的良藥。 當時我的事奉,信心,情緒都崩潰了。我沒有什麼可失去的 , 因此我願意嘗試任何東西。 在CPE 課程當中, 每個實習生都誠實地檢視自己的生命歷程, 並與導師和同事們一起處理和調和自己生命中的負面經歷。我努力修補我的內心生活,也努力修補與上帝的關係。 包括我曾經對上帝的憤怒並一直因生命的缺失而引致的悲傷。 作為一名院牧,我努力醫治和調和自己的情緒。 具體的醫治工作是完成每週日記 , 反思 , 監督和盟約小組治療。 院牧是受傷的療癒者, 他們遭受傷害, 並真誠地尋求醫治自已。

我一生都在慢慢地去認識神的帶領, 但神愛我, 即使我覺得祂已經拋棄了我,其實祂一直都與我同在。 當我回首我的生命, 上帝 一次又一次地出現,在我感到黑暗和孤獨的時候。 確實是神的恩典救了我 , 使我得以存活。 很多時候, 我偶然發現了上帝的恩典和祂對我生命的計劃。 我原先不知道我可以當院牧, 但上帝帶領我, 讓我再次謙卑俯伏在祂的恩典下。 我從來沒有一個明確的 呼召 , 想成為一個院牧。 我可能不會成為一個院牧,若我的朋友沒有打電話給肯尼博士,又要是肯尼博士看到我作為院牧的恩賜 , 並讓我在CPE 課程中成長和發展。 當我遭遇失敗,或者懷疑我自己能力的時候,肯尼博士會鼓勵我,說我有恩賜成為一名好的院牧。我的朋友和肯尼博士在我生命裏是重要的角色,但上帝是我生命的導演。
關於尋求如何成為一位院牧,我有一些的建議 :

1. 了解更多關於你的恩賜和個性。 你可以完成一個恩賜的清單, 找出什麼是你獨特的恩賜。 你知道你的個性嗎? 如果沒有 , 請採取 Meyers-Brigg 類型測試來查看你屬於的十六種類型中的哪一種 。 《 聖經 》中有三處提及屬靈的恩賜 : 羅馬書 12: 6-8, 歌林多前書 12: 8-10 和彼得(前)書 4:11 。 請留意到哥林多前書的經文 , 它特指在教會內部的屬靈恩賜,而不是外面世俗的 。 因此, 擁有 “醫病 , 行異能 , 辨別諸靈 ” 的恩賜 , 不一定是作為院牧的必要恩賜 。反而我們發現在院牧身上經常有仁慈和服侍他人這兩種恩賜 。如果你尋求誠實的建議 , 你身邊的人也會肯定你的恩賜, 而且當你有效地運行恩賜的時候,他人會喜悅你的服侍。

2. 在您尋求神呼召你的旨意中 , 第一個重要的問題是 “你覺得被呼召去服侍他人及/或服侍上帝嗎?” 如果對這問題的回答是肯定的 , 那麼你可以深入研究你的個性和呼召的方向 。 如果你有興趣成為一個院牧或教牧輔導的工作 , 諮詢那些認識並關心你的人。問他們: ” 你如何看待我作為一個院牧,來幫助有需要的或在困難中的人?“ 對你誠實的人會讓你清楚地了解你是誰,以及接下來你需要做些什麼 。

3. 尋覓更多關於成為專業院牧的過程及其工作的性質 。

a. 與專業院牧們傾談,了解他們在醫療保健和公眾塲合中的運作。 有些是受薪的 , 另一些是志願的。 事奉的範圍很廣寬, 例如醫療院牧 , 軍人院牧 , 執法和消防人員的院牧, 救災人員院牧等 , 找出它們之間的共同點和區別。 例如 , 活泉華人教會的退休牧師區穎寧牧師, 多年來一直是三藩市警察局和 FBI 的院牧。 區牧師可以為你提供很多的資源和建議。

b. 訪問在醫院的CPE中心, 了解CPE課程是什麼以及你對它的感受。透過www.acpe.edu 網站您可以找到三藩市灣區認可的 CPE 課程中心。

c. 去當地的醫院或參加安寧醫護中心 (Hospice) 工作來親身體驗和照顧病人和臨終的病人。 大多數的醫院及安寧醫護中心都容許志願者參加他們的工作 , 允許他們訪問垂死的病人和支持他們的家人。 在三藩市灣區有其他志願服務機會的優秀組織包括 Herald Cancer Care (www.heraldcancercare.org) 和 Heart of Hope Hospice ( www.heartofhopehospice.org) 。

d. 成為你教會中一個平信徒院牧, 探訪你教會的獨居長者。

e. 必要和重要步驟:就讀一年認證的 CPE 課程 , 作為院牧的培訓。 許多牧師和基督徒認為他們已有足夠的資格成為院牧 , 因為他們所受的神學訓練, 經歷, 恩賜都能給他們足夠能力事奉。 事實上, 許多教會牧師和基督徒都擁有關愛的技能和技巧(傳道人的工作), 但缺乏一個有愛心的自我 (傳道人的本身) 。 雖然 CPE 為在各種疾病和各種健康危機中的人提供了充足的資源 , 但最重要的是訓練你作為一個院牧的內在生命。 院牧的工作是 ” 一個生命影響另一個生命 ” , 利用自己的生命故事和經驗,與他人一起行走在他們的痛苦和黑暗中。 院牧的重要元素是與那些在痛苦中的人同行 , 和不帶糖外衣的實際言行。 我喜歡形容院牧是 “心靈的朋友 ” (Soul Friend) 這個名詞。 CPE 幫助我誠實地看待自己, 並意識到我的感受、態度、偏見、信仰和價值體系成為我看待他人的有色眼鏡 , 令我不能全人及全情投入去關懷照顧他人。 重要的是 , 你要學會以病人為中心 , 而不是以自已為中心 , 不是 ” 我需要做或說什麼 ” 。 成功的訪談 , 是關注 ” 他們所需要的 “, 即使對他們面對的問題我沒有解決方案 。 這是效仿耶穌的事奉 — 進入另一個在掙扎中的人之境界 , 並願意與他一起走過死蔭的幽谷。 實際上許多醫療機構要求 一 年的 CPE 培訓作院牧職位資格的一部分。 接受 CPE 培訓也是院牧提升專業資格的一種方式。

4. 試一試 。

一旦你完成了 CPE 培訓 , 你就有資格成為院牧。 你會了解更多 , 看看自己是否真的適合院牧的工作。

就業後的下一個步驟是尋求美南浸信會聯會 (Southern Baptist Convention簡稱SBC) 或你所屬宗派的認可。你宗派的認可非常重要。因為除非有他們的認可你不能得到院牧學會的認證書。 SBC 有很多資源支持院牧。他們也有許多類型的院牧。 您可以在美南國內傳道部 (North America Mission Board簡稱NAMB) 網站上找到信息和資源 : www.namb.net/chaplaincy .

得到你宗派的認可後, 你下一步就是得到你的專業院牧的認證書 (Board Certification)。 這是你的專業執照 (Licence) 被所有醫療機構承認的。The Association of Professional Chaplains (簡稱APC) 是院牧學會當中最大的。還有其他認證機構有不同類型的院牧發不同類型的專業院牧執照。

我作為一個教會的牧師 十二年後,被呼召成為院牧。 在完成 CPE 課程後, 我作為一個臨終關懷的院牧至今 。 自 2009 年以來 , 我是被SBC 和 NAMB 認可的 , 作為他們的醫療院牧 , 並在2011年被 APC 認證。 當然 , 得到病人 , 家人和同事認可的時候 , 我感到自己做的工作是非常有價值的!

另外、我需要指出一個重要的事情, 特別在教會外的院牧 : 在北美醫療系統, 院牧是一個跨越宗教的工作 , 這意味著無論病人的宗教信仰是什麼,院牧都需要提供病人屬靈上的關愛。除非病人和家屬同意 , 否則我們不能分享我們的信仰。我認為耶穌的事奉不是排他性的, 而是包容性的。耶穌來到世上是要為全人類, 祂的真理和恩典也是如此。 至少在人們最需要的時候, 能夠體會到上帝的憐憫和支持 。 因為我們代表的是仁愛的上帝。

(黃國軒牧師是三藩市灣區活泉華人教會的會友)

The Choice of a Place to be Equipped 如何選擇接受事奉裝備的地方

The Choice of a Place to be Equipped for Ministry

God’s calling is to ministry and that ministry is to continue the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ and to follow in His steps on the road of the cross in servanthood and in service to His church. One thing has to be absolutely clear: You are never called to an institution to study. You are called to be a servant of the Lord to do whatever He wants you to do. While the call is never to a place to be equipped, it is your responsibility nonetheless to seek out a place where you will be equipped for a lifetime of ministry.

Institutions that provide theological training are called by different names but all of them provide the basic “professional” equipping for a minister of the Gospel of the head, the hands and the heart through four different areas of study: Biblical, where the Bible is studied; Theological-Historical, where students are engaged in theological-historical studies and to learn how to think theologically; Ministry (formerly called Practical Studies) where students are taught the various ministries of the church; and finally, Supervised Ministry where students are able to apply what they have learned into actual ministry or in a mentoring relationship with an experienced minister in a church or an organizational setting.

Not all theological schools are the same or equal as each function at different levels academically, but with each doing the same thing, how do you choose the school in which you will spend three, four or more years of your life being equipped for ministry and know that at the end of it, you are getting value for your investment in time, money and effort?

Here are some suggested criteria to look for when choosing a place to be equipped.  These criteria are not in any order of importance:

1. Is the school accredited? Accreditation is an important indicator of the quality of education and training that you will receive at the school. It is an objective assessment by its peers that the school has sufficient qualified faculty, adequate facilities, financial stability, competent administration and governance, strong support of its constituency and alumni, and a credible curriculum that will enable it to do what it sets out to do – the training of ministers. The credits for courses enrolled or the degree you receive will get its due recognition by fellow accredited schools or other authorities.

2. Is the professed statement of belief or statement of faith of the school biblically sound and in line with what you believe? This is an important consideration, especially in this day and age when being denominational in the culture is not a welcoming idea, it is therefore all the more important that what is professed and practiced is biblically sound. Hence, it makes perfect sense that as a Southern Baptist, for example, you should enroll in a Southern Baptist seminary because you can be certain that the Baptist faith and polity is taught there. This is especially true for those enrolled in seminary for the very first time in order for them to have a good foundation in the Baptist faith.

3. Does the school help stretch your faith by equipping you to think theologically? This is especially needful in our day and age for you as a minister to not only know what you believe but to know why you believe it. Theological schools should be a place where you wrestle with articulating a Christian worldview in your present context and to be able to defend it.

4. Does the school have a strong emphasis on the spiritual formation of the minister? This is the development of the inner person and the spiritual depth of the person so to speak and the formation of the motivation, the attitudes, and the character of the minister. Schools have generally come around to the realization that academics is not everything in theological education and the spiritual formation of the minister plays an important part in the future success of ministry for the student.

5. Does the school have a strong emphasis on Supervised Ministry? Most theological schools have a strong academic emphasis and rightly so. However, there is also a need for training that seeks to equip the student to function competently in ministry through the acquisition of skills. As a proverbial chef would say: We need more cooks who are able to cook than we need more nutritionists in the kitchen! (No offense to nutritionists!)

6. Does the school offer programs that meet your needs? This is a practical issue especially for those who, because of family commitments, make it almost impossible for them to give up making a living and when relocating is out of the question. At the same time, they are intent on pursuing a course of study on a part time basis and still be able to graduate within a reasonable period of time without leaving home and family. Some schools do offer online courses for entire programs, but the serious weakness of most  such programs in general is the lack of interaction between students and the lecturer and between students in the learning process. Another consideration is whether the school offers programs for spouses so that they may also be equipped as a partner in ministry.

Yet another issue is, especially if you have work experience and feel called to the ministry later in life as a second career, and generally know exactly what God has called you to do, does the school provide you with the equipping that will enable you to serve effectively in that field?

7. How much does it cost to go to school there? This is yet another important practical consideration and exercising good stewardship. You certainly do not want to be loaded with debt through loans that would take years to pay off after you finish but at the same time you do not want to miss out on a good theological education experience just because it costs too much. Theological education does not come cheap but Southern Baptist seminaries make it very affordable for members of Southern Baptist churches to attend them and have a great education and equipping in the process.

The next step in the process is to have a handle on what the options for ministry are as you think about serving the Lord. This is where the next stage of “The Journey” would take you.

如何选择接受事奉装备的地方

上帝的呼召是事奉的呼召,那事奉是要继续主耶稣基督的事奉,并以仆人的态度来跟随他的脚踪,在十字架的道路上来服侍祂的教会。有一件事要必须非常清楚:神没有呼召你去在某一个学校去学习,神乃是呼召你作主的仆人,去做他所希望你去做的工作。尽管神没有呼召你去某处地方接受装备,但你有责任去寻找一个装备配你去终身服事的地方。
提供神学训练的机构有着不同的名称,但它们都為传道人在四个不同的研究领域提供了基本的“专业”装备:圣经,在其中研究圣经; 神学-历史,学生从事神学-历史的研究,并学习如何进行神学思考; 事工(以前称为实践研究),在其中学生学习教会的不同事工; 最后是督导实习事工,学生可以将他们所学到的知识应用到实际的事工中,或在教会或组织机构中与经验丰富的传道人建立指导关系。
所有的神学院在每个功能及在学术上不同的层次並不都是相同的,但若每个学校都在做同样的事情,你如何选择你将要花费你生命中三年,四,或更多年的时间来为服事接受装备备的学校,并且知道在最后,你在时间,金钱和努力上所作出的投资是值得的?
以下是在选择神学院,圣经学校或圣经学院时要留意的一些建议准则。这些准则在重要性上不分先后:

1. 学校是否通过认证?认证是你将在学校所获得的教育和培训的质量的重要指标。这是同行们的客观评估,认证学校是否拥有足够的合格教师,足够的设施,稳定的财务,有效的管理和治理,得到其服侍的对象和校友的有力支持,以及拥有一个可信的课程,使其能够培训传道人。修读课程的学分及你所获得的学位将得到其他认可的学校或机构的认可。

2. 学校所宣告的信念陈述或信仰陈述是否合符圣经,并符合你的信仰?这是一个重要的考虑,特别是在这个时代中,在文化中宗派并不是一个受人欢迎的题目。更重要的是,其宣告和实践的东西都是符合圣经的。因此,举例说,作为美南浸信会会友,你应该报读美南浸信会神学院,因为您可以确定那里教授的是浸信会的信仰和体制。对于那些第一次入读神学院的人来说,这尤为重要,这让他们在浸信会信仰上能得着有一个良好的基础。

3. 学校有否有透过装备,讓你从事神学思考来伸展你的信心?作为传道人,在这个时代,不仅需要知道你相信什么,而且知道你为什么相信它。神学院应该是一处你努力明确地说明基督教世界观的地方,并且能够为它辩护。

4. 学校是否强调传道人的灵性修养?这是个人的灵性和属灵深度的培育,以及传道人在事奉的动机,态度和品格上的塑造。学校普遍认识到学术不是神学教育的一切,而传道人的灵性修养对学生未来学生事工的成败起着重要作用。

5. 学校是否重视督导实习?大多数神学院都非常重视学术,这是正确的。然而,我们需要通过培训来使学生获得技能,使其能胜任事奉中。一位厨师会说:在厨房中我们需要更多能做饭的厨师,而不是更多的营养师! (这里没有冒犯营养学家的意思!)

6. 学校是否提供能满足你需求的课程?对那些有家庭负担而使得他们不可能放弃工作,以及不可能搬家的人來説,这是一个很实际的问题。但他们打算在部分时间的基础上修读,并且仍然能够在合理的时间内毕业,而无需远游和离开家人。有些学校提供整个网上的课程,但这些课程最大的弱点是在学习的处境中,学生与讲师,以及与其他学生之间缺乏互动。另一个考虑是学校是否有为配偶提供课程,让他们也可以接受装备来在事奉上作伙伴。

另一个问题是,特别是如果你已有多年的工作经验或是在年岁上更成熟后才被呼召,事工成为生命中的第二专业,一般你会确切知道上帝要你做什么,学校是否为你提供装备,让你能在该禾场中服事?

7. 去那里上学要花多少钱?这是另一个重要的实际考虑,并作好的管家。你当然不希望因着贷款而至债台高筑,在毕业后,并在服侍中,多年之后才能清还。但同时你不想因为成本太高而错过得着良好神学教育的经验。神学教育并不便宜,但美南浸信会神学院让美南浸信会会友能够很便宜地入读,并在这一过程中得着良好的教育和装备。

在这个过程中的下一步是在你考虑服事主的当中,在事工上所有的选择。这就是“旅程”在下一个阶段中所要带给你的。

如何選擇接受事奉裝備的地方

上帝的呼召是事奉的呼召,那事奉是要繼續主耶穌基督的事奉,並以僕人的態度來跟隨他的腳踪,在十字架的道路上來服侍祂的教會。有一件事要必須非常清楚:神沒有呼召你去在某一個學校去學習,神乃是呼召你作主的僕人,去做他所希望你去做的工作。儘管神沒有呼召你去某處地方接受裝備,但你有責任去尋找一個裝備配你去終身服事的地方。
提供神學訓練的機構有著不同的名稱,但它們都為傳道人在四個不同的研究領域提供了基本的“專業”裝備:聖經,在其中研究聖經; 神學-歷史,學生從事神學-歷史的研究,並學習如何進行神學思考; 事工(以前稱為實踐研究),在其中學生學習教會的不同事工; 最後是督導實習事工,學生可以將他們所學到的知識應用到實際的事工中,或在教會或組織機構中與經驗豐富的傳道人建立指導關係。

所有的神學院在每個功能及在學術上不同的層次並不都是相同的,但若每個學校都在做同樣的事情,你如何選擇你將要花費你生命中三年,四,或更多年的時間來為服事接受裝備備的學校,並且知道在最後,你在時間,金錢和努力上所作出的投資是值得的?
以下是在選擇神學院,聖經學校或聖經學院時要留意的一些建議準則。這些準則在重要性上不分先後:

1. 學校是否通過認證?認證是你將在學校所獲得的教育和培訓的質量的重要指標。這是同行們的客觀評估,認證學校是否擁有足夠的合格教師,足夠的設施,穩定的財務,有效的管理和治理,得到其服侍的對象和校友的有力支持,以及擁有一個可信的課程,使其能夠培訓傳道人。修讀課程的學分及你所獲得的學位將得到其他認可的學校或機構的認可。

2. 學校所宣告的信念陳述或信仰陳述是否合符聖經,並符合你的信仰?這是一個重要的考慮,特別是在這個時代中,在文化中宗派並不是一個受人歡迎的題目。更重要的是,其宣告和實踐的東西都是符合聖經的。因此,舉例說,作為美南浸信會會友,你應該報讀美南浸信會神學院,因為您可以確定那裡教授的是浸信會的信仰和體制。對於那些第一次入讀神學院的人來說,這尤為重要,這讓他們在浸信會信仰上能得著有一個良好的基礎。

3. 學校有否有透過裝備,讓你從事神學思考來伸展你的信心?作為傳道人,在這個時代,不僅需要知道你相信什麼,而且知道你為什麼相信它。神學院應該是一處你努力明確地說明基督教世界觀的地方,並且能夠為它辯護。

4. 學校是否強調傳道人的靈性修養?這是個人的靈性和屬靈深度的培育,以及傳道人在事奉的動機,態度和品格上的塑造。學校普遍認識到學術不是神學教育的一切,而傳道人的靈性修養對學生未來學生事工的成敗起著重要作用。

5. 學校是否重視督導實習?大多數神學院都非常重視學術,這是正確的。然而,我們需要通過培訓來使學生獲得技能,使其能勝任事奉中。一位廚師會說:在廚房中我們需要更多能做飯的廚師,而不是更多的營養師! (這裡沒有冒犯營養學家的意思!)

6. 學校是否提供能滿足你需求的課程?對那些有家庭負擔而使得他們不可能放棄工作,以及不可能搬家的人來説,這是一個很實際的問題。但他們打算在部分時間的基礎上修讀,並且仍然能夠在合理的時間內畢業,而無需遠遊和離開家人。有些學校提供整個網上的課程,但這些課程最大的弱點是在學習的處境中,學生與講師,以及與其他學生之間缺乏互動。另一個考慮是學校是否有為配偶提供課程,讓他們也可以接受裝備來在事奉上作夥伴。

另一個問題是,特別是如果你已有多年的工作經驗或是在年歲上更成熟後才被呼召,事工成為生命中的第二專業,一般你會確切知道上帝要你做什麼,學校是否為你提供裝備,讓你能在該禾場中服事?

7. 去那裡上學要花多少錢?這是另一個重要的實際考慮,並作好的管家。你當然不希望因著貸款而至債台高築,在畢業後,並在服侍中,多年之後才能清還。但同時你不想因為成本太高而錯過得著良好神學教育的經驗。神學教育並不便宜,但美南浸信會神學院讓美南浸信會會友能夠很便宜地入讀,並在這一過程中得著良好的教育和裝備。

在這個過程中的下一步是在你考慮服事主的當中,在事工上所有的選擇。這就是“旅程”在下一個階段中所要帶給你的

Personal Preparation for Ministry 「全職事奉」之個人的準備

Personal Preparation for Ministry

Now that you know you are called to the ministry, the next step is how you might want to prepare yourself for a lifetime of ministry. This is one of the important first steps in your journey. There are practical issues that you need to deal with, especially in an Asian context, and the earlier you start learning those life lessons, you will be better prepared for it. Preparation for the vocational ministry starts when you sense God’s call on your life:

1. Develop and Grow in your Relationship with God.

When you handle the sacred things of God it becomes most easy for you to become secular. You take the sacred things of God for granted and routine and you become careless and callous. The Bible warns: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23. You “guard your heart” by continuing to develop an abiding and growing relationship with God through the practice of the spiritual disciplines and exercise. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) It is recommended that during your time of waiting on the Lord and preparation for equipping, that you build a good foundation with the Word, reading it and studying it from cover to cover. Get to know His Word! Read the teachings and insights of other spiritual giants of the faith. You might be able to learn a thing or two!

2. Family:

a. If you are single and unattached, you are free to make your own personal decision to respond to the call of God on your life. But as in many Asian families, parents do have expectations of their children in terms of their careers. That is a reality you need to deal with and not brush it aside. If you have not yet believing parents, it is imperative that you have a straight talk with them about what is happening in your faith life and a “change of career” for you. It is important for you to be a good witness in dealing with this issue. For parents who are believers, bless your child who is answering the highest calling in his or her life. Support their decision and not hold them back. What a privilege and honor it is to serve a God who gave His best and His all for us!

b. If you have a serious relationship with someone of the opposite sex with the view of marriage, it is important for you to share your sense of being called with your significant other. If he or she is not willing to be supportive of your sense of call, call off the relationship or let the relationship cool in order to have space for the both of you to evaluate your relationship. This might be the first of many of the price you pay for being a serious follower of Jesus Christ.

c. If you are married, the calling should be part of your praying and seeking the Lord together as husband and wife even before you start contemplating the call to the vocational ministry especially if the calling comes after you are married. It interjects a great unknown for the family that only a strong and abiding faith in God and His leading will overcome collectively. Even if he or she does not feel called to the vocational ministry your significant other plays an important role in your future ministry. He or she must be supportive of what you do, failing which, the relationship would not work and your ministry will not go anywhere. There are many practical issues to consider such as relocation, career change, starting over, change of role as breadwinner, loss of income and change of lifestyle. But these could become an avenue of spiritual growth when you experience the presence and provision of God and His leading as you face the challenges together as husband and wife.

d. If you are married and have children, you should share your sense of call with them so that they will know what to expect and to prepare them for their future role in the ministry. They should also be in the decision-making process if they are old enough and as they become partners in ministry with you. As a consequence of your being called especially for preteens and teenagers, many changes are going to come into their lives but you can make them as an opportunity for spiritual growth as a family as you pray and seek the Lord together.

3. Financial:

a. If you have financial obligations to your parents, you should take that into consideration especially when your parents are not yet believers. Always maintain a positive witness to the family. (For the church, it should consider making special provision to help in this area. Your financial stewardship and investment will go a long way for the cause of Christ.)

b. Put your own financial house in order. Reduce debt or eliminate it altogether if you can before you start seminary or more critically, before you enter into the vocational ministry. Plan ahead for the years you will be in training for the ministry. Squirrel away a portion each month to finance your education. There is a real liberating effect on your ministry when you are debt free.

c. Tweek your lifestyle. Start learning to simplify your life and living within your means. Have a review of what you spend and what you indulge in. It may surprise you that going to have a boba or a cup of coffee at a fancy coffee shop less frequently and reducing your eating-out habit, for example, might save you a bundle. (You could learn to make those yourself and indulge in them all you want for less!!)

d. Just because God has His eyes on you and called you to the vocational ministry does not mean that you should have an entitlement attitude. Yes, God is going to supply all of your needs but how He does that is not for you to determine and expect. It is God’s prerogative and one should never assume God would do our bidding. It is your responsibility to take God at His word to provide for His servants. Most of the time, He provides through scholarships, secular work, ministry in the church or other means. Be thankful for whatever and however He provides because those are ways God is equipping you to trust Him in everything you need in your future ministry. Learning how to deal with the unrighteous mammon is one of the greatest challenges for a minister. When you have mastered it well, you will go a long way in ministry.

4. Community and Relationships

a. A person called to the vocational ministry is one who has to work with people. Ministry is a very people-centered “profession” and you have to learn to get along with people with the grace and the graciousness God has for you. Learn early to love people with their warts and all. You are God’s ambassadors. God is who you reflect in your life for them. Learn to be godly and Christ-like!

b. Learn to love the church in all of its imperfections. Be supportive, encouraging and uplifting in all you do. Learn to be humble and to serve with a servant’s heart. It is Christ’s body you are serving and building. And it is this body, the church, where you will devote your entire life whether you serve as a missionary, a church planter, a pastor, a minister or even as one serving in a para church organization.

c. Seek the opportunity to have secular work experience before enrolling in your theological studies. It is through work that you come to understand where your people are coming from in life and to experience first hand the dynamics of an honest day’s work. You will be better for it.

d. Having a call from God to be His special servant is a privilege but that should not distract you from giving your best in your secular work and calling. All the more you should strive to thrive in your profession or career not only as a witness to the Lord but to dispel the notion that it is when we are not good for anything else, we go into ministry. Such a notion is not uncommon in many secular or even “spiritual” minds. God deserves your best because He gave His best! In any case, God will use whatever He had given you for your future ministry. Be good at what you do.

e. Learn integrity and live integral lives. Operate with the highest moral standards in your work place and be a good witness for the Lord. Ministers get in trouble in ministry not because of a lack of knowledge but a lack of integrity and moral character. Build a good reputation wherever you are. There should not be a hint of impropriety in your relationships with people, especially with people of the opposite sex.

f. Build good relationships with people you work with and especially your family. Broken relationships need to be mended. Learn to live peaceably with everyone as it depends on you. This includes our relationships with “difficult” people in our lives.

Preparation for ministry is a life long process. Learn all you can from the “good” and the “bad” that life throws at you. But know that God will never permit  anything He has allowed you to experience go to waste. Use those as opportunities to stretch your faith. If you allow Him and be patient, He is using all of life’s encounters to equip you and to mold you into a servant, a vessel, fit for the Master’s use.

Now you are ready to consider your next step: Choosing a place to be equipped for a lifetime of ministry.

「全職事奉」之個人的準備

當你清楚是神的呼召成為全職事奉時,你的下一步就是要知道如何準備好自己去面對這一生人的事奉。 這是最重要的一步。在開始全職事奉裝備之前, 一些實際的事情首先要去處理,特別在亞洲人的思想文化這方面。你越早開始去認識了解這些問題,並學習以正面的方式去處理,對你前面的事奉有莫大裨益。

當你心裡感覺到神的呼召時,你應該預備自己如下:

1. 與神建立一個緊密和不斷進深的關係
作為一位傳道人,你要時常處理關於神的事情。但人性軟弱,久而久之你會很容易變得因循,粗心大意,甚至冷酷和世俗化。因此,聖經箴言4:23警告說:「你 要 保 守 你 心 , 勝 過 保 守 一 切 , 因 為 一 生 的 果 效 是 由 心 發 出 」。你要透過恆常並持久的屬靈操練與神建立一個不斷進深的親密關係。正如耶穌在約翰福音15:5,說: 「我 是 葡 萄 樹 , 你 們 是 枝 子 。 常 在 我 裡 面 的 , 我 也 常 在 他 裡 面 , 這 人 就 多 結 果 子 ; 因 為 離 了 我 , 你 們 就 不 能 做 甚 麼 」。建議你在等候神接受裝備前之期間,好好鑽研神的話語,將聖經從頭到尾徹底閱讀和了解,又參閱其他屬靈信心偉人的著作和洞見,從而幫助自己在神的話語上建立一個良好的基礎。

2. 家庭方面
a. 如果你是單身,沒有在談戀愛中,當神向你發出生命的呼召時,你可以自由地自己做決定。 但,許多亞洲的家庭,父母在職業方面對子女實在有期望。 這是一個現實你要處理,不能把它放在一旁,置之不理。如果父母未信主,那麼你必須直接與他們傾談,誠懇地與他們分享在你的信仰生命中發生的事情,以及你為何改變你的「職業」。 處理問題時,要有好的見証,這是非常重要的。 對基督徒父母來說,祝福你的孩子,因為他/她回應生命中最高的呼召。 支持他/她的決定,千萬不要成為他/她的阻礙。 能夠被神呼召一生去事奉神,是一種特權和榮譽,因為神獻上衪自己一切最好的給我們!

b. 如果你正與一位異性認真地談戀愛,並且雙方都有意朝向婚姻的關係,你必需與你這身邊重要的人分享你被神呼召的感受。 如果他/她不願意支持你的感召,你應該停止彼此間的關係,或讓關係冷卻,以便雙方有空間評估大家的意願。 這可能是你忠心追隨耶穌基督所付出許多代價中的第一個。

c. 如果你已結婚,婚後感到神的呼召,甚或你開始深思有關全職事奉,你們倆人作為夫婦必需在這件事情上一同禱告尋求及好好溝通。因為,全職事奉為家庭帶來很多不知的未來,需要二人對神的帶領有著堅定持久的信心,才能克服一切障礙。 你身邊的丈夫或妻子在你未來的事奉中扮演著非常重要的角色。即使他/她沒有感覺到這個呼召,也必需得到他/她全力的支持。否則,夫婦關係就不能和諧,你的事奉也不會順利。有許多實際問題需要考慮,如: 搬遷、職業改變、重新開始、收入減少、家庭經濟支柱角色改變,並生活方式改變等。面對以上各樣的挑戰,夫婦二人若能同心,一起渡過,並在其中經歷到神的同在和供應,這一切便成為靈性成長的途徑。

d. 如果你已婚並有孩子,你應該與他們分享你的感召,讓他們知道該期待什麼,並為他們將來在教會中的角色做好準備。 如果孩子成長程度足以明白事情,他們也應該有參與決策過程的機會,並他們在事工中可以成為你的伙伴。如果孩子年幼,特別是在少年時期,他們在生命中會有許多變化,你們夫婦可以為孩子祈禱,並與他們祈禱,一起尋求主,將難題成為整個家庭靈性成長的機會。

3. 財政方面
a. 如果你對父母有供養的責任,要考慮他們,顧念他們的需要,尤其是父母未信主, 家庭中的見證十分重要。 (教會應該考慮在這方面提供幫助,成為神國度永恆的投資。)

b. 整理好你的財務。你在開始入讀神學院之前,或更重要是你進入全職事奉之前,必須減少你的債務負擔,更好完全還清所有債務。無債一身輕,這對你的事奉有正面積極的果效。預早計劃你所接受的裝備需要多少年月去完成,並在每月的開支預算上,儲蓄起一部分以備將來受裝備的日子使用。
調整你的生活方式。你要檢視一下自己的消費模式,將金錢花費在那一些事情或喜好上。你開始學習過一個簡樸的生活,例如: 減少出外吃飯的習慣和到高級漂亮的咖啡店喝一杯波霸飲料或咖啡。如此,你可能會驚訝,你所節省到的錢不少。(你也可以學會自己泡製這些美食,以低廉的價錢,一樣可以盡情享受你想要的東西!)

c. 不要以為神選上了你、呼召你作全時間事奉,就意味著你擁有某一種特權。不錯,神會供應你一切所需。但,衪以什麼方式供應,這不是由你去決定,或按照你的期望。這完全是神的主權。我們永遠不應該假設神按我們的要求去行事。你的責任就是相信神的話,說: 神會供應衪自己僕人一切的需用。很多時候,神透過助學金、社會上的工作、教會事工或其他方式供給你。無論神供應什麼,或如何供應,你都要存著感恩的心領受。因為神使用這方法裝備你,使你在將來的事工中,將你所需要的一切信靠祂。作為一位傳道人,最大挑戰之一就是「馬門」,貪財是萬惡之根。當你能夠把錢財處理得好,正直廉潔,你事奉的路才能長久。

4. 社區和關係方面
a. 一個被神呼召全職事奉的人必須與人聯繫交往,所有事工都是一個以人為本的專業服侍。目的是要將神自己和衪的恩典透過你帶給人。因此,傳道人必須學習與人相處,並儘早學會去愛人,全人的愛,包括愛他/她的優點和缺點。你是神的使者。讓神在你的生命中反映出來,學習像神,像基督!

b. 學習去愛教會。無論你的職份是宣教士、植堂者、傳道人、會牧,或是在基督教機構服侍的人,都要學習去愛教會。縱使教會有不完美之處,你仍盡所能給予支持、鼓勵和振奮。學習謙卑,以僕人的心態服侍。教會是基督的身體,是你服侍和建立的對象,也正是這個身體-教會,你將自己整個的生命投放入其中。

c. 入讀神學院之前,尋求機會在社會上工作。在工作中,便更能體會了解作為員工經過一天的辛勞,身心的感受與遇到的難處,因你曾親身經歷過。社會工作經驗有助於你的服侍。

d. 能夠被神呼召而成為衪的僕人是一種特權。但這特權不應該叫你在所作的事情或事奉上懈怠。相反,你應該在社會工作中更加努力,全力以赴,做到最好,為主作美好見證,消除人們負面的觀念,認為沒有其他更好的前途才進入全職事奉。這種觀念存在於很多人甚至在基督徒的思想中。神配得你擺上最好的,因為衪已將衪最好的給你。在你未來的事奉,無論什麼情況,神給你什麼恩賜,你都要善加運用,做到最好,榮耀衪。

e. 學習成為一個有誠信和操守的傳道人,有最高的道德標準,行事正直,為主作美好見証。傳道人最大的問題並不是缺乏知識,而是缺乏道德品格。無論在那裡,你要為主的緣故建立良好的聲譽。在人與人之間的關係中,特別是與異性接觸,不應該有絲毫不妥之處。

f. 你要與同工,特別是你的家人建立良好關係。破損的關係需要修補。你要決心和所有人和平共處,包括一些我們在生活中遇到很難相處的人。

為事奉作預備實在是一生的學習過程。在生活中所遇到的「好」與「壞」,盡你的能力從當中學習。但要知道,神永遠不會讓你的體驗成為白費。衪使用這些機會使你信心增長。如果你順服,耐心等候神,神會藉著人生中所有的遭遇來鍛鍊你、塑造你成為衪的工人,合用的器皿,被主所使用。

現在你已經作好準備,可以思考下一步的行動,就是選擇一個適合你的地方接受裝備,承擔你一生的事奉。

Objective Markers for the Call 客觀的引證

Objective Markers for the Call to the Vocational Ministry

 

Our God is a God who calls – calling people to Himself to become part of His Body, the church; calling all of His people to serve Him in His church; and calling them to serve Him vocationally.

Serving God vocationally is also known as the “Full Time Ministry” which implies that a believer believes that God has called him or her to devote his entire life and career in serving Him. This is a decision that should not be taken lightly by the believer or the church. It is a “God-moment” for the believer as well as for the church.

All ministers serve God vocationally on the basis of a call from God. Frequently, the one feeling being called comes into the decision-making process with a lot of emotions as he or she responds to God’s call on his or her life. The call, in the most part, do not usually come with an audible voice that you hear with your physical ears but deep down in your heart. Therefore, clarifying the call is important and the first big step in the journey for the formation of a minister.

The church rejoices by the fact that God has called His workers into His harvest field in response to the prayers of His children. Therefore, it is not uncommon for the church to feel “intimidated” in that the church could only respond to such a subjective decision in the affirmative, thinking, “God has answered our prayers and who are we to question the work of God in a person’s life?” However, I believe that it is the responsibility of the church, the Body of Christ, to help the person to clarify His calling because it is a life and a life-style changing moment that has serious consequences not only for the individual and his or her family but the church and the kingdom work as well. In light of these considerations, there are certain objective markers that would help the individual and the church to determine whether a person is called of God. The following markers are for the individual feel called and for the church:

1. Are you a growing and a maturing believer? It is in the process of growing and maturing as a believer that you have developed a desire to seek after God’s will for your life and to honor and please Him in all that you do. For the church, it has the responsibility to help the one feel called to the ministry to evaluate if he or she is a growing and maturing believer and whose character exhibits the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) growing in Christ-likeness and one who aspires to fulfill the qualifications of spiritual leadership as taught in I Timothy 3:1-7. This is because ministers get into trouble in ministry is not because of a lack of knowledge but a lack of integrity. The question the church needs to ask is: Does the church have enough time and opportunity to make a judgment that the person is growing in maturity and exhibits integrity in ministry. Immaturity at a certain point in time or past mistakes do not necessarily disqualify a person for ministry. The question to be asked is whether the person is growing and maturing in the sense of his or her understanding his or her personhood as a minister. It might not be a bad idea that the church invests time and money in having the person undergo a battery of tests that would also gauge in some measure, the emotional stability of the person.

2. Are you actively involved in ministry whether in your own church or in a Christian organization? Your life as a minister of the Gospel is to serve the God who has called you into ministry. If you are not already actively serving Him faithfully, you might want to talk to your pastor or leaders in the church how you might begin serving using the giftedness that God has given you. If you feel called to be a missionary, have you sought out opportunities to serve and to minister to your intended people group or any migrant group living in your community? This is because missionary service is always to a people, not to a place! For the church, it has the responsibility to provide the opportunities for the person to be involved in ministry based on interest, giftedness and faith-walk of the person. In the matter of faith-walk, it should provide opportunities that stretches the faith of the person ministering outside his or her comfort zone. The question the church should ask itself is: How well does the person function outside his or her comfort zone?

3. When serving, do you feel that if you could devote more time and effort into the ministry, you could do more for and with the Lord? As you serve the Lord, there comes a time when you become so involved in the ministry that you experience the joy of serving. As you serve, you begin to realize that there are so many needs out there and if you have the time, you could do more. For the church, it has the responsibility to keep encouraging the one who feels called of the Lord to keep seeking the Lord through the exercise of the spiritual disciplines and to grow in his or her understanding God’s will for his or her life. The question the church should be asking is: How is the person growing in his or her personal walk with Christ and maintains a good balance between family, secular work and ministry?

4. Are there those around you that affirm your “call” to the ministry? God has given you the church that can affirm your call to the ministry as they watch you serve and as they serve with you. It would be wise of you to share about your calling with your pastor and leaders in the church and seek their counsel, advice and affirmation. In the event they do not affirm you, continue to seek the Lord if you feel strongly enough about your call and continue to seek their wise counsel and godly advice. For the church, it has the responsibility to provide wise counsel and to speak the truth in love when the person is found to be not called to the vocational ministry. Ultimately, the question that the church needs to ask and respond to is: Everything being equal, would your church be willing to consider the brother or sister at the end of his or her training, calling him or her to be on staff at the church?

Being called of God is an honor and a privilege as you consider that the Creator God has chosen you to be His unworthy servant. Therefore the calling calls for a response with a deep sense of humility on your part. With the honor and privilege also comes a tremendous responsibility to be prepared for ministry. However, there are some personal issues that need to be addressed first as you prepare to be equipped for ministry.

It is to these that we now turn – Personal Preparation for Ministry.

客觀的引證

我們的神是一位呼召的神。衪呼召人們跟隨祂成為基督身體的一部份。主的身體就是教會; 祂也呼召所屬衪的人在教會裡服侍祂; 衪更個別呼召一些信徒來終生事奉衪。這也被稱為「全時間事奉」或「全職事奉」-意思是,神呼召他/她將整個的人生,包括職業完全擺上事奉衪。 這樣的呼召,對該信徒或教會而言,都是一件非常嚴肅的事情, 是「神聖」的時刻。

所有全職事奉神的傳道人都是建基於神的呼召。很多時候,受感召的人面對神在他/她生命中這樣的呼召,在回應和決定的過程中,會經歷許多情緒及感觸。大多數情況下,神的呼召並不是從肉身的耳朵中聽到某些聲音,而是在他/她內心深處的感覺。 因此,要澄清這是否來自神的呼召是非常重要,也是成為傳道人過程的第一大步。

當有這樣受感動的人出現時,教會會感到高興,認為神回應祂兒女們的禱告,呼召祂的工人收祂的莊稼。在某一些的情況是對的。因此,面對感召者這樣主觀的領受,教會很多時都不會提出相反的意見,只以肯定的方式回應,心想:「神已答允了我們的祈禱,我們是誰竟去質疑神在他/她個人身上的作為?」。然而,教會作為基督的身體,是有責任幫助這個人澄清這到底是神的呼召與否。因為這個決定影響重大,不單只是個人生命方向或生活方式的改變,還有他/她的家庭,更直接影響教會和神國的事工。有鑑於此,一些客觀的標記或印証可以幫助他/她和教會去確定這感召是否出於神。 以下標記或印証是應對個人和教會而言:

1.你是一個成長中和成熟中的信徒嗎? 作為信徒,在不斷成長和成熟的過程中,會渴慕尋求神在自己生命中的旨意,並願意在一切所行的事上榮耀神討衪的喜悅。對教會而言,教會有責任去評估那感覺被呼召的人,是不是一個不斷成長和成熟中的信徒,他/她的品格有否結出聖靈的果子(加拉太書5:22-23),行事為人有否活出基督的樣式。並且,有否追求達到提摩太前書3:1-7在屬靈領袖方面所要求的資格。因為,傳道人在事奉中遇到最大的問題不是缺乏知識,而是缺乏個人的誠信和操守。教會需要留意的情況,就是教會是否有足夠的時間與這人接觸和相交,以至能確認他/她是否不斷在成長和成熟,並在事工中表現出個人的誠信和操守。 或許他/她在過去某個時期有不成熟或錯誤,但不應該完全否定他/她的資格成為一位傳道人。要問一問,他/她對自己個人的「我」理解多少? 教會或許可以投資時間和金錢讓他/她接受一系列的測試,在某程度上,這也衡量出個人情緒的穩定性。

2.你是否積極參與事奉,無論你在自己的教會,或在其他基督教機構? 神呼召你一生成為衪的僕人事奉衪。 如果你在教會還沒有積極參與事奉,你需要跟你的牧者或教會領袖傾談,讓你有機會運用神賜予你的恩賜忠心地服侍。若你感覺神呼召你成為宣教士,你有否尋找機會接觸及服侍在當地居住的異鄉群體? 對教會而言,教會有責任基於每個人的靈程、恩賜和興趣,提供參與事奉的機會。 在信心靈程的學習上,提供信心增長的機會,讓他/她在舒適安穩的環境以外服侍。 教會應該留意:他/她在舒適安穩的環境以外服侍之表現?

3. 事奉中,你是否覺得,如果你有更多的時間和精力,你會與主同工,為衪做更多的事嗎? 當你越事奉主,越投身參與事奉,你會經歷到事奉中的喜樂。 當你服侍時,你會發現到處有很多需要。如果你有時間,你一定會為主做更多。 對教會而言,教會有責任不斷鼓勵那些感覺到主呼召的人,藉著個人屬靈的操練與主親密交通,尋求神在他/她身上的旨意。 教會應該問一問:這個人如何在與神同行中成長,並在家庭、世俗事情和事工之間是否保持良好的平衡?

4.你身邊的人,有沒有確認你心中的感召,成為一位傳道人? 神已賜給你教會,他們看見你的服侍,也與你同工。你應該與你的牧者和教會領袖分享你心中的感召,尋求他們的忠告、建議和肯定,這是明智的。他們可以確認神對你的呼召。如果他們不確認,那你就要繼續尋求主及與教會領袖們繼續溝通,尋求他們的勸告和建議。對教會而言,當教會認為他/她並未被神呼召作全時間事奉,教會便要用愛心說誠實話,並有責任提供的勸告。最終,教會需要回答的問題是:說句公道話,當這位弟兄/姊妹受訓裝備完畢後,教會是否願意考慮他/她成為教會的同工?

被神呼召成為全時間事奉是一個榮譽,也是神賜予的一個特權。因為,造物主揀選了不配的你,成為衪的僕人。面對神的呼召,你要以極謙卑的態度作出回應。隨著特權,同時也帶來了巨大的責任去預備自己,接受裝備。但在這一切之前,有一些個人的問題必須首先得到解決或處理。

這就是我們接著要說的 – 個人的準備。

 

The Call 神的呼召

The Three Callings of Life
Rev. Johnny Wang

The First Calling: From Death to Life. “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,” (Ephesians 2:1 NKJV) “…those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, …” I Corinthians 1:2)

1. This is the calling to life and a decision to choose life.
2. Life should be the precursor to existence and humanity must choose life over existence.
3. If a person does not choose life, he is merely existing much like a “dead man walking”. Human existence is utterly meanlingless.

The Second Calling: Commitment for Life. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” (Romans 12:1) “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” (Romans 14:8)

1. Life has a purpose. That purpose is to be used by God. “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” (Ephesians 4:1)
2. This is for an individual to serve God wherever he or she is.

The Third Calling: To a Vocational Ministry. “…Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.” (Matthew 4:21-22) This is the call of Jesus of his disciples.

1. God is still in the business of calling His people to the vocational ministry.
2. The first two calling must precede the third and it is God’s prerogative to call and we are to be obedient to His calling. “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit…” (John 15:16)
When we choose to respond to God’s calling, we need to observe the following principles:
1. We need to glorify God in our decision. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (I Corinthians 10:31) This is because our life is from God.
2. We respond not because it is for our own benefit. “…For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, …” (I Corinthians 10:33) This is God’s will for us: We live to serve Him, to live for Him and to serve others, not to be served by others.
3. We respond for the greater good of others. “…I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.” (I Corinthians 10:33). We serve just as Jesus served, to give life to others. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

人生中有三種不同的呼召
王其昌牧師

第一種:出死入生的呼召. 「你們死在過犯罪惡之中,祂叫你們活過來.」(弗2:1) 「在基督耶穌?成聖,䝉召作聖徒的.」(林前1:2)

1. 這是屬於生命上的呼召及選擇.
2. 生命必須行在生活之先,故人必須先在生命上作選擇.
3. 一個人若在生命上不作選擇,只是在地上過生活,猶如行屍走肉,是完全沒有意義的.

第二種:生活奉獻的呼召. 「所以弟兄們,我以神的慈悲勸你們,將身體獻上,當作活祭,是聖潔的,是神所喜悅的,你們如此事奉,乃是理所當然的.」(羅12:1) 「我們若活著,是為主而活.」(羅14:8)

1.生命的存在是有其目的,此目的是要譲造我們的神使用. 「我為主被囚的勸你們,既然䝉召,行事為人就當與䝉召的恩相稱.」(弗4:1)
2. 這是一種在個人崗位上的事奉,不論你的崗位為何.

第三種:全職事奉的呼召. 「…耶穌就呼召他們,他們立刻捨了船,別了父親,跟從了耶穌.」(太4:21,22)這是耶穌之門徒們的䝉召經歷.
4. 今天神仍然從不同崗位上的人中呼召他們出來全職事奉神.
1. 前二種的呼召是必有的,但是第三種的呼召則要神來為我們作主,然後我們順服跟從. 因為主說:「不是你們揀選了我,是我揀選了你們,並且分派你們去結果子….」(約15:16)

在選擇時要留意三個原則:
1.為 要榮耀神. 「無論作什麼都要為榮耀神而行.」(林前10:31)因為生命是由神而來的.
2. 不求自己的益處. 「…像好像我(保羅)凡事都叫衆人喜歡,不求自己的益處.」(林前10:33) 這是神的旨意:我們生存的意義在乎被神使用,為神為人而活,不是要受人的服事.
3. 要求衆人的益處. 「…只求衆人的益處,叫他們得救.」(林前10:33) 我們要服事人,像主留下給我們的榜樣,使人也得生命(參:可10:45)