In a recent post, we discussed a study that concluded Christians and non-Christians are both attending church services much less today. If you missed that compelling post, you can read it here: Barna Study: Even Christians Are Leaving Our Churches.
Today we want to give you a chance to chime in on the topic, and we have two polls that allow you to do that. The first one asks if you are attending church more or less these days. There are several answers. Please don’t answer the way you would like to be able to answer or how you think you should answer. Just the way it really is in your life at this moment.
The second poll asks why you are attending church less. You have several option here as well, even an “other” where you can write in your answer. There is also an answer for “I am attending church MORE” and “I am attending about the same”
Thank you for voting and please feel free to share these polls with your readers or re-blog this post. If you look at the results so far, it seems to coincide with the study. The more answers the better, so share away!
Total: Completely, Absolutely
Inability: lack of sufficient power, resources, or capacity
It’s true that humanity can’ come to Christ unaided. The Scriptures and the early church agree on this. Both sides of the Monergism vs Synergism civil war agree on it. Without God’s grace, no one is able to come to Christ. Period!
But how does it work? Nobody knows and those who say they do don’t understand what they’re saying. How God works this out in humanity lies within the mystery of God himself.
Calvin, and the the followers he inspired, believe this means humanity can not even respond to God unaided. People must first be born again and then after that, exercise faith in Christ. One can’t say “yes” to God until after the new birth takes place. Which leads them to teach things like this:
“This doctrine of total inability which declares that men are dead in sin does not mean that all men are equally bad, nor that any man is as bad as he could be, nor that anyone is entirely destitute of virtue, nor that human nature is equal in itself, nor that man’s spirit in inactive, and much less does it mean that the body is dead… The inability under which he labors is not an inability to exercise volition, but an inability to be willing to exercise holy volitions.” (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination)
“The inability under which he labors is not an inability to exercise volition, but an inability to be willing to exercise holy volitions.”
Essentially, reformed theology teaches that human beings do not have the capacity to desire God, to obey Him or answer when He calls. I have wrestled with this pretty much all of my Christian life for several reasons. Three of which I now share here.Read the rest of this entry
That sound you are hearing? That is me stirring the pot!
Calvin’s faith is certainly different from the faith of the early church, but is it going to far to say he reinvented or re–delivered a new faith?
Play nice, please.
It is a little bit late but Happy New Year! Read the rest of this entry
It is both rewarding and frustrating.
You will see it as a good investment of your time and a gigantic waste of your time all in the same week.
You may want to give it up and you will think you can’t live without it.
Welcome to the world of blogging. Can we sign you up?
I started this blog back in 2010 with my very first post, Whatever Happened to the Message of The Cross? Since then, we have posted hundreds of articles and had thousands of comments and conversations. I have experienced every single one of the things mentioned in the first paragraph of this post! Yet I am still here, typing out my thoughts. Even after all this time, I still love blogging!
If you are reading this, you are either new to blogging or you have been doing it a for a while. Either way, I want to help you become a better blogger. I am not talking about writing better blog posts. Rather, I want to share my thoughts on how YOU can become a better blogging person! I am going to assume you already know what your topics are, and where to go to get help to become a better writer. I want to help you become a better blogger so that your experience blogging is as enriching and rewarding as it can be. So here is my advice: Read the rest of this entry
What is that event? Most Americans can’t answer that question so we share the answer here:
The World Cup!
That time is upon us, it starts on Thursday.
Not many people know this, but over here at Not For Itching Ears, we are hard core futbol, or soccer fans. We watch every single game. No matter what time the game is on, we watch it. What’s not to like about it? 204 teams compete over a three year period to win an invitation to the World Cup, which happens every 4 years. The host country team gets in free. So there is some great competition.
To make room in our schedule, Not For Itching Ears will be on vacation until the World Cup ends. We have priorities, so we will also be foregoing all yard work. All items on the “Honey Do” List have been temporarily removed. We were supposed to be in Brasil for the games, but alas, we are not!
Soccer is God’s greatest gift for world evangelism. It is an instant conversation starter. Just ask ANY non-American, male or female, who they are rooting for or what they think or their countries chances and you’ll have a 5 – 10 minute conversation about soccer. After that, the rest is up to you.
Our staff is rooting for in this order:
1. The USA and Ecuador (it’s a tie actually) Neither will win, but Ecuador has the best chance of advancing out of their group. Sadly, the USA is in the “Group of Death”
2. Any South American Country
The teams we most want to lose: Ghana, (sorry friends, you have beaten us one to many times) and Mexico. You can’t throw beer bottles at the USA team on their home field in the USA and expect us NOT to despise your team (we love you though!)
Take my advice: Stop blogging for a month and enjoy the World Cup. See you Mid-July! If you don’t know much about it check out this article on the Ten things Non-Soccer Fans Need To Know About the World Cup.
Your challenge is that most people are going to believe EVERYTHING you teach. When you stand in the pulpit and teach God’s word, you better make sure you know what you are talking about!”
I have never forgotten how my Greek professor started that Intro to Greek class. He laid out a challenge to the entire class that has shaped me all these years. When I was preaching every week, it guided my preparation time. It is why I spent 30-40 hours every week as a pastor studying the texts I was teaching on. I took it THAT seriously.
A lot of us out here in the blogosphere know how to study the scriptures for ourselves. We read books and articles all the time that help shape our faith and practice. Still, vast majorities of people rely on the church corporately and pastors specifically to teach them the faith. How are we doing?
According to a report by George Barna, the church is failing miserably in this area. “Believers” know less and less about God and understand the Bible less and less. Yet it is the Church’s job to make disciples and to “Teach them to Obey everything I (Jesus) commanded you.”
Why is this happening? If you read this blog, you know that I don’t lack an opinion on this!
Could one of those reasons be the failure of our younger pastors to grasp the significance of their preaching task? I have been to over 30 40 different churches in the last 8 years. One of the things I have noticed is the casual manner that a majority of pastors have towards their preaching. I can tell when someone has prepared. It is obvious to a wordsmith when a fellow wordsmith has put in the study and preparation time. It is just as obvious when they are winging it.
From what I have seen, many pastors are winging it!
The reasons for this can be summed up into to broad categories: Time Management and Skill/training
Pastoring has never been an easy job. Preaching week after week is not for the faint of heart. The demands of today’s ministry on a pastor’s time only make it harder to be faithful in your study. I am no longer pastoring, and I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to get quiet alone time to study in today’s world.
For many pastors, there just isn’t enough time to adequately study AND keep up with the ever increasing demands of today’s ministry. The only solution I know for this is to let other things go. Pastor, if you find that you don’t have time week after week to study the word and show yourself approved, you need cut other less valuable things out of your schedule. You know what those things are.
The other issue that may be causing this “Wing It!” mentality is a lack of skill in studying the Bible. Judging by what I’ve seen, our seminaries may no longer teach Hermeneutics. I doubt they are teaching Homiletics. If you don’t know how to study a text or passage, and you are a preacher, you need to stop reading this and go learn how to do it!
When you stand in that pulpit to teach God’s word, we are listening! We are ready to believe what you teach. Many of us will believe what you teach even when you are off base and wrong, due to a lack of serious thought on the text. For our sake, and for His sake, take some extra time and prepare the way you should.
If your pastor is already doing this, rejoice! Send him a note and thank him! Encourage him to keep doing it! Find out when he studies and never call or email or text him during those times, unless it is a real emergency. Teach others in the congregation to do the same. Help guard your pastors study time, and you, he and the entire congregation will be the better for it!
#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.
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 http://www.NotForItchingEars.com
Last week we posted a poll called “Do You Know How The Early Church (pre 150AD) Spotted A False Prophet” (Take the poll!) In it, we gave respondents 5 answers to choose from and only one choice was correct. It is important to note that this poll did not include all the ways the early church spotted a false prophet. Also, the one correct choice was taken from the Didache, a respected early church document written sometime between 50AD and 150AD. Do you know the right answer? Let us look at them one at a time:
5. They Believed The Gifts of The Spirit Had Not Ceased. FALSE! 6% of respondents identified this as the correct answer.
4. They Taught That There Were Two Ways Only: The Way of Life or The Way of Death: FALSE, and almost 13% of respondents chose this as the answer,
3. They Taught that People had Free Will and Could Choose to Follow Christ. FALSE! 13% of those polled chose this as the correct answer which would be a popular answer for followers of Calvin.
2. They Taught that Water Baptism Could be Done Without Immersion, FALSE! It is not surprising that this answer was chosen by 19% of those who took the poll. However, the early church did not make as big a deal about this as modern day Protestants. They preferred immersion in running water, but allowed pouring water over the head if running water was not available.
Fifty percent of respondents chose the correct answer. So, how did the church spot a false prophet? Drum roll pleeeeeease!
1. They Asked For Money!
“Now concerning the apostles and prophets, deal with them as follows in accordance with the rule of the gospel. Let every apostle who comes to you be welcomed as if he were the Lord. But he is not to stay for more than one day, unless there is need, in which case he may stay another. But if he stays three days, he is a false prophet. And when the apostle leaves, he is to take nothing except bread until he finds his next nights lodging. But if he asks for money, he is a false prophet. Didache 11:3-6
Think about this. If they asked for money, they were to be considered false prophets. Why do you think the early church used this as part of the criteria? Just as importantly, why do we not use this criteria today and if we did, how would things change?
BONUS: Here’s another way the Didache instructed believers to recognize wolves in sheep’s clothing: They did not practice what they preached!
“If any prophet teaches the truth, yet does not practice what he teaches, he is a false prophet.” Didache 11:10
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
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