Blog Archives

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

Leaders: You Can Make Your Public Prayers More Meaningful


write your prayersWhen I was a new worship leader, I prepared like crazy for Wednesday nights and Sunday Mornings! I made sure the music charts were written out and CORRECT and that everyone had the one they needed. I would play through the songs multiple times on my own and work on any tough parts. I would create interesting modulation changes! This was all before we even rehearsed the team. Probably like most worship leaders, I took it seriously and prepared everything.

Except for any prayers!

Prayer was the one thing I didn’t need to think about ahead of time. I could always pray in front of others. I had no fear of it, loved doing it, and could make it up on the fly. I was good at it. Or so I thought.

Then one day, it happened.

I listened to several of my preaching tapes, and I was horrified at Read the rest of this entry

It’s Official: People Don’t Want to Sing So Much on Sundays


lucy surprise“We sing too much in church!”

Whenever I say this, those who hear me have one of two responses.  The first one is absolute total agreement, usually told to me via a whisper in the ear or a hand written note that self destructs after I have read it.  There can be NO evidence of this solidarity.

The second response is a casual search for matches, wood and rope so I can be burned alive at the stake as a heretic.  OK, so I am exaggerating a little bit about the first response, people don’t actually pass me a note that self destructs, but you get the idea!

If you have spend any amount of time on Not For Itching Ears, then you are aware of our thoughts on corporate worship and the need to reform it.  We thought it would be a good idea to create some polls about various aspects of corporate church life, and see what readers thought.    So, we created several of them.  The results are still coming in, but so far Read the rest of this entry

Is God Really Calling You To Plant a Church?


cross-with-roots3-e1288037811724“Do we really need another one?” I asked with an annoying tone. I must have been bothered by it, because I asked my passenger Dakota her thoughts on the subject. Dakota is my Golden Retriever, and from what I could tell she was all for it, as long as they gave away tennis balls to all visitors.

In my town, it would seem there is a new church starting every couple of weeks. I understand the idea behind planting a new church. It is suppose to be the most effective form of evangelism known to mankind. At least that is what I was told in seminary, and it would seem our young leaders are being indoctrinated with the same idea.  But is it true?

I think the greatest form of evangelism is one on one. More people are still introduced to God and Jesus Christ via interaction with people outside the congregational walls. Period.

Church planting certainly has its place.   Is it possible to over plant the church? Can there be too many churches in a city? If you are considering planting a church where the church already exists in abundance, it would be wise of you to thoughtfully and unselfishly pondered that question.   I think the answer is a resounding YES!  Take a look at Colorado Springs, CO.  Do you think it needs one more evangelical congregation?  The red dots are churches.

Churches in Colorado Springs

Over church planting in a city can cause a stumbling block for evangelism.  So many different churches can lead non-christians to believe that even Christians can’t figure this stuff  about ultimate issues out.    I can imagine the questions that arise in the mind of the non-Christians: “Why are there so many churches if the claims of Christianity are true?  Isn’t the fact that there are so many different churches PROOF that Christianity is false? Why are they starting another one?  Why do they all believe different things?  If they can’t agree on what the truth is, maybe they are all just a bunch of misguided, well-meaning people who I should not take seriously.”

We won’t even talk about how one more church plant will dilute the scarce resources of leaders, servants, and dinero.

I applaud you for wanting to step out in faith and make a real difference in people’s lives.  Still, I want to issue a challenge to if you are thinking about planting a church.   If God is calling you to a particular area that is church saturated, perhaps it is NOT to plant your own church.  Perhaps you are being called  to come alongside someone else. Here’s an idea:  If God has called you to come to a city where there are hundreds of churches, why not find a job like Paul did and the rest of us do.  Why not volunteer to help another local church like the rest of us?  Why start something new?

Be honest with yourself, isn’t what you are thinking about starting exactly the same thing as the last 35 guys who came here to start something?  Does God really need 36 congregations that are essentially the same thing?   Perhaps it would honor God more and make a bigger impact on the community if you went and helpedp the last guy God sent here.  They don’t have enough money to pay you, but they need your help.  Just a thought.

Want to be challenged more or get more upset?  Read our post “Would The Apostle Paul Plant a Seeker-Sensitive Purpose Driven Church?

Check out the result of 4 different polls and the challenging conclusions arrived at in our post It’s Official: People Don’t Want To Sing So Much On Sundays.

Why Christians Should Let Non-Christians Off The Moral Hook


I'm Right and You're WrongI feel like I need to get something off my chest.   It bothers me that Christians continually express shock, disapproval and judgment at the way non-Christians live.

You’ve seen it, and maybe even done it:

Doesn’t anyone believe in marriage anymore?

I can’t get over how many people today smoke weed.

Can you believe they just sleep in instead of coming to church?

Did you hear they moved in together? That’s so bad!

What’s wrong with our government? Why don’t they uphold biblical values?

Whenever I hear that, I  feel like saying “Do you seriously expect non-Christians to behave like Christians?”

This article was not written by us over here at NotForItchingEars.com.  I found it over at www.Careynieuwhof.com.  You can read the article on Carey’s site here:  http://careynieuwhof.com/2013/02/why-christians-should-let-non-christians-off-the-moral-hook/  I think he makes some great points in this article, and I thought it was worth reposting.  So here it is:

Think it through.

Most people in the West no longer consider themselves Christian.

Or even if they use the term “Christian” to describe themselves, few believe in the authority of scripture or profess a personal faith in Jesus Christ.

So why would we expect them to behave like Christians? Why would we expect people who don’t profess to be Christians to:

Wait until marriage to have sex?

Clean up their language?

Be celibate when they’re attracted to people of the same sex?

Pass laws like the entire nation was Christian?

Seriously? Why?

They’re not pretending to be Christians. Why would they adopt Christian values or morals?

Please don’t get me wrong.

I’m a pastor. I completely believe that the Jesus is not only the Way, but that God’s way is the best way.

When you follow biblical teachings about how to live life, your life simply goes better. It just does. I 100% agree.

I do everything I personally can to align my life with the teachings of scripture, and I’m passionate about helping every follower of Christ do the same.

But what’s the logic behind judging people who don’t follow Jesus for behaving like people who don’t follow Jesus?

Why would you hold the world to the same standard you hold the church?

Before you judge a non-Christian for behaving like a non-Christian, think about this:

1. They act more consistently with their value system than you do. It’s difficult for a non-Christian to be a hypocrite, because they tend to live out what they believe. Chances are they are better at living out their values than you or I are. Jesus never blamed pagans for acting like pagans. But he did speak out against religious people for acting hypocritically.

2. Your disapproval is destroying the relationship (if you have even have a relationship in the first place). Some of the most judgmental Christians have zero non-Christians friends. Is that a surprise, really? I mean, on a human level, how many people have you made time for this week that you know disapprove of who you are and the way you live? Exactly.

3. Judgment is a terrible evangelism strategy. People don’t line up to be judged. If you want to keep being ineffective at reaching unchurched people, keep judging them.

4. Judging outsiders is unChristian. Paul told us to stop judging people outside the church. Jesus said God will judge us by the same standard with which we judge others. Paul also reminds us to drop the uppity-attitude; that none of us were saved by the good we did but by grace.

So what can you do?

1. Stop judging non-Christians. Start loving them. Very few people have been judged into life-change. Many have been loved into it.

2. Empathize with non-Christians. Ask yourself, “If I wasn’t a Christian, what would I be doing?” Chances are you might be doing exactly what the non Christians in your neighbourhood are doing. Understanding that and empathizing with that completely changes how you see people. And they can tell how you see them.

3. Hang out with non-Christians. Jesus did. And caught plenty of disapproval for it. I have a friend who continually drops f-bombs in my presence. As much as it bothers me, I never correct him (he’s not a kid, he’s my peer). But I do pray for him every day and we talk about my faith. I pray I see the day when he’s baptized.

4. Pray for unchurched people. It is impossible to remain enemies with someone you genuinely pray for daily.

5. Live out your faith authentically. Your actions carry weight. Humility is far more attractive than pride. When a non-Christian sees integrity, it’s compelling.

I just have a feeling if we in the church loved the world the way Jesus did, the world might come running to Christ.

And, then, the change we long to see might actually begin to happen.

Visit Carey’s site for more of his take on Church life and Christianity:  http://careynieuwhof.com/

Inspiring Lives From Church History: Hesychius 300AD


The_Christian_Martyrs_Last_Prayer_by_leon_geromePeople have been living and dying for Christ for over 2000 years and history is full of wonderful examples of men and women who followed Christ faithfully. We can learn a lot from studying their lives. Yet, there is something truly compelling about those who suffer for Him and pay the ultimate price for their faith.

When I read the historical record of what some of these ancient brothers and sisters went through, it challenges me deeply. I often wonder how I would respond in such situations. I guess we won’t ever know unless and until we find ourselves in the same place. The one thing I can say with certainty is that Read the rest of this entry

What Do You Like LEAST about Your Church Service? Take Our Poll


Do We Spend Too Much Time Singing In Church?


Fiscal Cliff and Gun Control? I Can’t Hear You Because I’m Listening to Myself


I'm Right and You're Wrong“Two plus Two is Five, and I don’t see how you can’t see that!”

Often, when I engage in political dialogue with people who believe what I wholeheartedly reject, they look at me like the guy in the photo to the left.    It is as if I am proclaiming that 2+2 is 5 and they don’t know what to say!  To be fair, it goes both ways.  Their arguments sometimes make as much logical sense to me!

Go online to discuss things and the discourse degenerates pretty quickly!  Read through the comment section of any hot topic of the day, and you will find people screaming Read the rest of this entry

How Does One Truly Worship God? An Early Church Father’s View


From my view in the cheap seats, it seems that what it means to worship God has become open to interpretation.

Can I worship God any way I want to?

On a corporate level, does church leadership have biblical authority to design a worship service anyway they think is best?

Judging by state of the American Evangelical church, I think most leaders believe the answer is Yes to both questions. And boy do we ever take this permission seriously!

It would appear to this writer that Read the rest of this entry

Is the Current Church Model Doing More Harm than Good?


The Barna Group just came out with a new research report. In it, they describe six mega-themes relating to the state of the church in America. I want to discuss two of those themes here. I believe they have a cause and effect relationship. I also believe that the Seeker-Sensitive church model is directly responsible for the findings detailed in the Barna Report.

Barna says: “Change usually happens slowly in the Church. But a review of the past year’s research… provides a time-lapse portrayal of how the religious environment in the U.S. is morphing into something new.” Stop for a moment and think about what you just read: Christianity in America is morphing into something new.”

Is the American church morphing into something better and more God honoring? The findings in the Barna Report would argue in the negative. Here’s two of them: Read the rest of this entry

Are You Spending Your Life on Trivial Pursuits?


A third century Church Father once said that the devil majored in three things: noise, hurry, and crowds.  The older I get, the more I think the Desert Father was right. The enemy seeks to fill our lives with meaningless things (noise) so we don’t hear the truth of the Gospel.  He works to keep us busy and entertained (hurry) if we happen to embrace the truth of the Gospel so it makes little difference in our lives.  He strives to surround us with others who are doing the same thing (our friends, families, co-workers and the like) so that we don’t consistently  live out the truth of the Gospel, never seriously impacting our lives or the lives of those around us.

If ever there was a time in the history of the world where it’s easy to give oneself to meaningless things, it is now.  There are so many options, aren’t there?  Between Cityville, Castleville, Farmville, perusing Facebook, or tweeting about the mundane things of life, as if anyone cares (I still haven’t found anyone who actually cares that “I’m writing a new article for the blog!”), or spending endless hours on the internet and the like.

What about TV and movies? Do you know how much time we waste sitting in front of a TV?  It is startling.  Back in the pre-historic 1990’s a study came out which said that the average American, living a normal life span, would spend Read the rest of this entry

Life is a Journey, Are You Enjoying the Ride?


During the 1996 Superbowl, Nissan launched its now famous “Life is A Journey, Enjoy the Ride” advertising campaign.  In the two-minute spot, a young boy finds himself in an underground garage, where a mysterious man shows him some old cars.  As the boy begins to leave, the old man offers him a parting word of sage advice: (You have to say this with a thick Japanese accent for the full effect) “Remember….Life is a journey.   Enjoy…..the ride.”

Of course the commercial was designed to sell Nissan’s, so people could “enjoy the ride” in a nice car!  It had a different impact on one young pastor who was watching.

I paused to reflect on my life and the journey I was on Read the rest of this entry

Shouldn’t Christianity Make a Bigger Difference?


“There are two ways,  one of life and one of death, and there is a great difference between these two ways.”

So begins my favorite non-canonical writing from the early church, The Didache, (pronounced Dee-Dah-Kay). If you have never read it, find some time to.  It is well worth it.  You can find The Didache here.

This opening phrase has been occupying my mind of late.  Like an Ipod stuck on repeat,  playing the same song over and over again.  I wake up in the middle of the night to find it still echoing in my mind. The part that grabs me is the ending phrase, “…and there is a great difference between these two ways.”

Is there really?

One could argue that the entire history of God’s people in both the OT and the NT illustrate the truth that there are two basic categories of how to navigate life:  a life with God and a life without Him.  Jesus described this life in Read the rest of this entry

Have You Read the Oldest Christian Sermon Outside of the New Testament? Part 1


I have listened to a lot of sermons in the past 25 years. I have also read many old sermons from the great preachers of the past. I have amassed a huge library of books from great authors, both past and present. Many of these works have impacted my life in big and small ways. But none more than the writings and messages of the early christian church leaders.

In my quest to figure this thing called Christianity out, I have found it helpful to go back and read how the earliest Christ followers understood Christianity. For some reason unknown to me, many of my contemporaries Read the rest of this entry

The Year That Changed My Life


Adjustment. Refinement. Correction. Modification. Reversal.  Say it anyway you like and it means the same thing: Change.   We’re told it is good for us. But few truly enjoy it.   Most people are willing to change, not because they see the light, but because the feel the heat! I’m no different. This year, I’ve been going through a lot of adjustments and refinements. I quit my band, picked up my Colorado roots and moved the whole family to the retiree state.  I closed a thriving business and started it up again in Florida.  (Thriving is not the word I would use to describe the new business.)  We also learned Read the rest of this entry

The Bottom 5: Our LEAST Read Posts from 2011


Yes, it is that time again.  The “Best of” posts are all coming out.  Tomorrow we will have our top 5 posts of the year.  Today, as an act of humility, we present our Bottom 5.  They are our least read posts of 2011.  Go ahead and read one.  They can’t be all bad!

Merry Christmas Everyone! Read the rest of this entry

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