Category Archives: The Seeker-Sensitive Church Model

Barna Study: Even Christians Are Leaving Our Churches

Why Christians are Leaving ChurchThe church may want to stop focusing on those elusive and extremely sensitive “seekers” for a while, because now, even believers are starting to leave the church.

We were warned back in 2005 that this was coming, but few paid attention to it then.  Many scoffed and pretended it could never happen.  But it is happening. That is what a recent poll by the Barna Group has uncovered, and the implications of it are alarming.

In this article, I want to share some of Barna’s findings with you.  I warn you:  Brace yourself!

I invite you to join the discussion in the comment section, as well as answer the polling questions (there are two polls at the bottom of the post) so we can get a better idea of what is going on from your perspective.   In the next post we will offer our analysis about why it is happening.

“What, if anything, helps Americans grow in their faith?”

When the Barna Group asked this question, people offered a variety of answers:

  • Prayer
  • Family or friends
  • Reading the Bible,
  • Even having children

But CHURCH did not even crack the top 10 list.

That is staggering in its implication.  Christians of all Read the rest of this entry

Can You See The Difference Between Contemporary Worship and Early Church Worship?

Contemporary worship vs Early Worship

Idol Worship: How Your Church May Be Doing It and How To Fix It

American Idolatry_revised“If it feels good, do it!”

This has been one of our favorite slogans since the 1960’s.  It seems that the American church has adopted a similar pragmatic view for church: “If it makes people come to church, we should do it.” Today, church leaders of every persuasion are willing to try anything if it works in drawing more people into their services.  If it “works” then it must be fine and stamped with the  approval of God Himself.

I can hear you now saying “Of course this is true!  Why on earth wouldn’t it be?”

Because it wasn’t!

One of the things that is clear for any to examine is that… Read the rest of this entry

Top 10 Reasons You Should Visit Our Church This Sunday

top10Top 10 Reasons You Should Visit Our Church This Sunday

#10 We have the best worship team in town filled with young, uber-talented musicians and singers.

#9 Our worship team recently recorded a cutting edge worship CD (You can buy it for $13).

#8 We have state of the art sound and lighting systems that allow you to hear and feel the worship, as well as experience worship in a way you can’t at other local churches.

#7 Worshipping in song is the best and highest form of corporate worship. We do it with excellence and we do it a lot! If you like music, you are going to love our worship!

#6 Come as you are. You can wear whatever you feel comfortable in. People wear everything from business casual to jeans and T-shirts

#5 We have GREAT coffee drinks (for sale) and you can bring the drinks with you into the auditorium.

#4 We have free wi-fi available throughout our facility and it is available at all times

#3 Our services are short! Each of our 3 services is only 70 minutes long

#2 Our pastor is an incredibly gifted speaker who is VERY funny. Each week you will hear a short inspirational talk based on our pastors life experience  or the experience of others that is always relevant to your life. There is usually a Bible verse or two sprinkled throughout the talk to help inspire you to live your life to the fullest.

#1 Our services are FUN! We have eliminated the old school, boring liturgical stuff from our worship which many of the other churches in town still utilize. We won’t ask you to stand or sit or kneel. There are no corporate readings or corporate prayers or communion. Just cutting edge worship and inspirational words.

What’s missing?

I have compiled these “reasons” from church websites and church advertising in my area. Before you write to correct me, realize that this post is a joke. The sad part about it is that they are real reasons that actual churches have given. Well, I have added my special touch to the reasons. Nevertheless, the gist of them is spot on.

Some will object to the competitive nature of the post. The “Our Church is Better Than the Rest” idea is abhorrent, I agree. However, that idea is rampant in our church advertising. It is sometimes subtle, sometimes over the top, but often present for anyone to see. At least I see it.

Some will see nothing wrong in the Top 10 Reasons I have listed. Others, will be able to spot what is missing easily. Still others, will have to look harder until they see what is missing. Feel free to throw daggers, share thoughts or comment as you see fit!

Thanks for visiting us here at


They Devoted Themselves to What?

disbelief not for itching earsI’ve never heard of this translation before and I don’t think it is correct. It does seem to accurately reflect the direction of the church in the USA though. Here’s a quote of Acts 2:42-45 from the New Testament For Today’s Christianity.  Check the Greek and you decide. Read the rest of this entry

How To Get More Men into Your Church Service…the Easy Way

bethechurch“Whatever Works!” 

That is the take many younger pastors have on Paul’s “I have become all things to all men…” mission strategy.   Now, we take it to the next level.

It is always a challenge to get men to attend church.  They just don’t want to come.  They see it as a complete waste of their precious time.  Yet, somehow we must reach them. I absolutely believe THAT!  But how to do it?  Perhaps a little creativity is in order.  So, if you don’t mind thinking waaaaay outside the box, or care about church history or any parameters the Scriptures might lay out, try these pragmatic suggestions.  Several studies suggest that this new approach will pack the house. Read the rest of this entry

Whatever Happened To This Message of The Cross

In honor of Good Friday, we are re-posting the very first article published at Not For Itching Ears…

The sign said, “Now serving Starbucks coffee!”

It was the late 90’s and the premium coffee craze was taking the country by storm. Everyone who liked coffee LOVED Starbucks or soon would. So it wasn’t surprising that some business would be utilizing the brand name to promote what they were doing. It made pretty good sense. It would not have fazed me a single bit if any other company was doing it. However, this massive sign was hung in front of a local evangelical Christian church. The message was crystal clear: “Come to our service on Sunday, we have free Starbucks coffee!”

With the arrival of the church growth movement and the seeker-sensitive ministry focus it birthed.. Read the rest of this entry

Christian Bloggers of the World…We Need Your Help!

help wantedI have a hunch, a hypothesis, a gut feeling.  That is, that singing in church is not as important to most of us who attend regularly.  We don’t dislike singing, and are not theologically opposed to it.  However, most of us, I propose,  don’t give it as much weight as our worship leaders or senior leadership do.

That has been what I have observed in congregation after congregation that I have visited in the past 4 years.  These polls are an unscientific way of trying to get a more objective view.   The answers to some of these polls has been rather eye-opening, and seem to confirm my gut feelings.  I will be spending time writing about what I have learned as a result in the not too distant future.

I need more answers to these questions, and so I am putting a link to our polls in this post.  Please feel free to use them in your own blog posts.  The results are available for all to see, and you can use the gathered information for any observations you would like to make.  The more votes we get, the better understanding we will have.

So here are the links:

What Are the Two LEAST Important Elements of Corporate Worship for YOU Personally?

Do You Think We Spend Too Much Time Singing In Church?

What Would You Do If Your Church Eliminated Singing from the Service?

What is the Most Important Element of Corporate Worship for You Personally?

What one thing would you like to see changed in the American Church?

What Do You Like Most about the Church Service You Participate In?

The End of the Beginning is Here

It has been a while since my last real post.  Many of you have wondered out loud if I am  A) dead, B) seriously ill, C) in exile or D) just not writing.  The answer is … Read the rest of this entry

An Open Letter to the Worship Leaders in the Evangelical Church

Open Letter to Wroship LeadersDear Pastor,

It is obvious to most of us that you enjoy leading the congregational worship time.  You put a lot of effort into learning new songs, and rehearsing with the band.  The PA sounds really good with those new subwoofers, by the way.  The light show is dazzling, and the fog machine was a real nice touch.  Your guitar solo’s are really smoking too!   I want you to know that we do appreciate you and all you do for us.  Most of us pray for you on a regular basis.

On Sunday mornings, you are always excited to lead us.  It must be a bit of a shock to you that most of us are not as excited about singing as you are.  You probably can’t see us, because of the bright lights in your eyes, but I sit in the back row. I often look around to observe the congregation and usually most of us are not singing.  But it isn’t because we don’t like you or God, or because you can’t sing very good.  Far from it.  We do love God and you are a fantastic musician!  A couple of us were discussing this lack of singing yesterday, and we thought you might want to know why this happens.  Just in case you do, I would like to share our thoughts Read the rest of this entry

Is the “Worship” Centered Church Model Bankrupting Christianity?

Bankrupt. Destitute. Impoverished. Insolvent.  Whichever word you choose, they all carry the same basic idea: They describe the inability to meet one’s obligations.  These  words are used to describe people that have been reduced to a state of financial ruin.  We also use the term to depict an individual or organization that is completely lacking in a particularly desirous quality or attribute.   One might be morally bankrupt or spiritually impoverished.  You get the idea.

While sitting in a church service the other day, I came to a conclusion about the church at large, which has serious ramifications for my life.   It was a long time in coming.   I am not sure why it happened that day, but I can’t ignore that it did.  This conclusion was fueled, in large part, by my own journey through the church world:  I have been a senior pastor, a worship pastor, an associate pastor, a volunteer, and a normal guy in the pew who isn’t doing anything.  Over the last three years I have “worshipped” in close to 30 different congregations with varying denominational or non-denominational affiliations.  I haven’t seen it all, but I think I have seen enough! Read the rest of this entry

Our Top 11 Most Discussed Posts of 2011

We had a lot of interesting discussions over at Not For Itching Ears in 2011.  We have listed our Top 11 most discussed posts below.  They cover a wide range of topics from the Seeker-Sensitive Church movement, Calvinism, Solo-Scriptura, Worship, The Best Salsa Recipe in the Blogosphere, American Idolatry and more.  It’s never too late to join the discussion.  Jump into any you may have missed.  Happy New Year Everyone.   Thank you to all who follow us! Read the rest of this entry

Sunday Morning Funnies: If I wrote the 10 Commandments there Would Be Less of Them!

Sunday Morning Funnies: Can You Come up with A Great Caption for This Photo?

I drove by a church in my town today and saw this sign.  After rear-ending the guy in front of me, exchanging insurance information, and calling the tow truck, I had time to take the photo.  I tried and tried to come up with a caption for this one that was funny.  Here are a few examples:   “Pastor Steve Boldly Implements His New Church Growth Plan” or “Church Animal Outreach Produces Unwanted Offerings”  or “Could This Be the Next Great Awakening?”   In the end, I couldn’t come up with anything I liked.

So, we are asking our readers to give it their best shot.  Can you come up with a good caption/title for this photo?  Submit your best idea in the comment section below.

How To Make the Gospel More Attractive


Has The Church Become the Newest Contestant on “American Idolatry”

“If it feels good, do it!”

This catch phrase, introduced in the 1960’s, has become a well established creed in American culture. It now appears that the American church has adopted a similar slogan: “If it makes people feel good, we should use it.” And are we ever!   Today church leaders of every persuasion are trying all kinds of new methods in order to fill the pews. If something we do succeeds in drawing more people into services then it “works” and is therefore good, right, and stamped with the very approval of God Himself.  Because as we all know, God wants people in pews.  Or so the story goes.  But are these new methods approved by God himself?

One of the things we should be clear about… Read the rest of this entry

We’ve Come to Worship, but Will We Worship God or Ourselves?

Dan Lucarini’s, in his book Why I Left the Christian Contemporary Music Movement,  has some thought-provoking and counter-cultural takes on contemporary worship.  One that gets right to the heart of the issue is this one:

“When we try to feel an experience of affirmation from worship, we are not worshiping God.  We are worshiping our own egos.” (pp. 56-57)

In other words, when we come to “worship”, if our goal is to get some type of positive experience out of it for ourselves, we are not really coming for Him.  In essence, we are “worshipping” our own egos.  If our motivation in coming to worship is for what we will get out of it, then we are worshiping.  We are just worshipping ourselves, and not the Savior.

Whoa there fella, that is a huge statement.  Practically everyone I have ever served on a worship team with or led, Read the rest of this entry

Worship Leading Gone Wild: What Can Happen When Worship Becomes A Song…..

Sometimes the truth contained in satire can pierce like a sword. The scene this video portrays about worship leading gone bad is one of those times.   After I stopped laughing, I began to ache.  This is how things truly are in some circles.  In many churches that I have visited over the past 3 years, it seems that simply getting people to sing is the goal.  It doesn’t matter what we actually sing about, Read the rest of this entry

The Apostle Paul on the Contemporary Church: “Don’t Abandon The Gospel!”

Not for itching ears is a blog dedicated to discussing the serious issues that face the evangelical church.  The main issue, as we see it, is that the church has grown perilously close to abandoning the Gospel. All around us we see churches relaxing their grip on it, in danger of fumbling it. In a recent message I delivered titled “Don’t Abandon the Gospel”, I took a look at what the Apostle Paul challenged the church of his day with.  Based on 2 Timothy 4:1-8, it provides a clear remedy:  Read the rest of this entry