The 'SHUT YOUR MOUTH' Church Pew

keep_quietToday, I was tasked to teach on the role, function, and characteristics of Pastors in this church era.  We discussed various Old Testament passages like Jeremiah 3:15,  Jeremiah 10:21,  Jeremiah 12:10, and  Jeremiah 22:22.  We asked the questions like;

“What provoked God to promise to give the people good pastors? What was wrong with the ones they had?

“What criticisms did God have of Old Testament Pastors?”

How did Old Testament Pastors differ from New Testament ones?”

What are the fruits of “Pastoral work?”


What environments best produce Pastors?”

You may, if you wish, give some possible answers to those question in the comment section, but one phrase caught my attention in today’s discourse with the seminary students.  One of the students, describing the ‘pastoral’ event of preaching from a pulpit was disgruntled because he felt like his Pastor wanted him to sit in the “SHUT YOUR MOUTH” pew and listen like a good sheep.

It made me sad.  It made me think that maybe participatory gatherings are THE WAY to go.  Even in seminary, we don’t have a traditional lecture style environment.  It’s more like Seminary in a Circle where everyone contributes to the discussion and are guided into learning and practice.

The brother who felt like he was commanded to sit in the SHUT YOUR MOUTH pew didn’t feel like there was an out from that environment that wouldn’t be met with some form of castigation or condemnation by those who are married to that system.

What advice would you have given this brother?

0 thoughts on “The 'SHUT YOUR MOUTH' Church Pew

  1. Juan Carlos says:

    Two things come to mind, right off: First, preaching/teaching should never be confused with pastoral care (although there is some minimal over lap). They are different. Secondly, the primary focus of Sunday morning worship is WORSHIP, not preaching/teaching. There are many opportunities to learn, study and to be taught (Sunday School, adult study, seminary, discipleship, Bible study, etc.). There is generally one opportunity for a Christian community to worship together, and yet most communities choose to teach/preach to those in the Shut-Up Pews rather than to worship. We need recapture the spirit of worship, and for one morning a week gather together to worship, which can only be adequately done in community.

  2. T Aagard says:

    Juan I disagree completely with “We need to recapture the spirit of worship, and for one morning a week gather together to worship…” The spirit of worship must start off with 24/7 worship. Take a look at Hebrews 10 with our great high priest paying for our sin and making possible the “new and living way”. This “way” starts with “Let us draw near…”. Then it moves to “let us hold fast our confession of fatih…”. Then it moves to Let us consider how we can spur one another on to love and good works, and encouraging one another. All 3 of these worship instructions are 24/7 preparing believers for a mutual spurring and encouraging session. Worship does not require other believers present because it is all the time and everywhere. The corporate gathering is only one small part of worship. “And all the more as we see the day approaching” teaches us one day a week may be a false plateau to rest on. I am worshiping right now as I type this. Also note there is not one hint of Bible lecture, otherwise called preaching. “Preach the word…” does not mean lecture the word anywhere in the Bible.

    I agree with the brother that pews are “shut your mouth and just listen because you are a dumb sheep and need a feeding dose from the hired lecturing shepherd. This routine is a gross manipulation of the shepherd / sheep metaphor in the Bible. It is only a metaphor, not an identity or being statement. Our identity and being is established by “now you are the body of Christ and each one members of it.” That identity calls for mutual participation for building and equipping. I don’t believe the 5 gifts said to be equipping gifts is a limited list. Every list of gifts is not a complete list so this one is not either. Drawing compartmental boxes around equipping, building and doing the work of the ministry is a gross miss use of NT teaching on body function.

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