New church growth ideas

A Roman Catholic church in Ireland is attracting large crowds by offering a mass that only lasts 15 minutes. Basically, it cuts out the sermon and everything except a rushed-through Holy Communion.

A church in a tiny Virginia town has gone nudist.

If churches are going to do this–change historical practice to better appeal to culturally-besotted Christians, nonbelievers, and quirky sub-cultures–what else could they do?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Booklover

    They could refer to the front of the church as a stage, and the congregation as an audience. Oh wait, that’s been done.

  • Booklover

    They could refer to the front of the church as a stage, and the congregation as an audience. Oh wait, that’s been done.

  • Mark

    I clipped an article some time back of a Methodist church that has drive thru communion. Make it drive-thru nudist-communion: hop out of bed and off to church! “You’re accepted at here just as you are!”

  • Mark

    I clipped an article some time back of a Methodist church that has drive thru communion. Make it drive-thru nudist-communion: hop out of bed and off to church! “You’re accepted at here just as you are!”

  • http://www.faith-filled.com Stephenie

    I guess a pin-up calendar of church staff isn’t a good fundraiser?

    I’ve seen some business practices creep into a church – - – and then take it over. Some business practices are good, like being organized, but others get in the way of ministry, causing the church to forget its purpose.

  • http://www.faith-filled.com Stephenie

    I guess a pin-up calendar of church staff isn’t a good fundraiser?

    I’ve seen some business practices creep into a church – - – and then take it over. Some business practices are good, like being organized, but others get in the way of ministry, causing the church to forget its purpose.

  • Larry

    Kind of makes the selling of indulgences look tame.

  • Larry

    Kind of makes the selling of indulgences look tame.

  • Winston Smith

    Church on TV! Attend from the comfort and privacy of your living room! or Church on the Web! Attend CyberChurch dot com with the click of a mouse!

    Oh, wait. Already been done.

  • Winston Smith

    Church on TV! Attend from the comfort and privacy of your living room! or Church on the Web! Attend CyberChurch dot com with the click of a mouse!

    Oh, wait. Already been done.

  • Jonathan

    Offer “triple reward points” coupons for those who are on the point sytem for attending the regular church services.

  • Jonathan

    Offer “triple reward points” coupons for those who are on the point sytem for attending the regular church services.

  • Dan Kempin

    I’m going to buck the trend here and take this somewhat seriously.

    Before we glance at the headline and sweep this away with a condescending laugh, consider the following from the first article quoted: The bare-bare basic mass is “drawing people in droves and reversing the fall off in mass attendance.” People are making time to receive the mass before work.

    Now if you consider the RC theology of the mass, (ex opera operato), what is the problem? This is a Catholic church, after all. People are once again receiving the sacrament on a daily basis. True, it is a compromised service, but the sacrament is there and, in a rather important factor for ministry, the people are there. In fact, considering the emphasis in some lutheran circles on increasing the frequency of the sacrament, I would think there might be some discussion on the merit of an abbreviated sacramental service. Note that the article did not say there was NO instruction and NO services with a sermon. This is something they are doing to encourage people to commune daily, and it seems to be a rather striking success.

    And as for the “nude church,” it is referring to services held in the chapel of a nudist colony. I mean, come on!

    I don’t have the answers, but I refuse to condemn those who are making an effort to reach the “culturally besotted.” (Great phrase, by the way.) They are the very people we are supposed to be reaching.

  • Dan Kempin

    I’m going to buck the trend here and take this somewhat seriously.

    Before we glance at the headline and sweep this away with a condescending laugh, consider the following from the first article quoted: The bare-bare basic mass is “drawing people in droves and reversing the fall off in mass attendance.” People are making time to receive the mass before work.

    Now if you consider the RC theology of the mass, (ex opera operato), what is the problem? This is a Catholic church, after all. People are once again receiving the sacrament on a daily basis. True, it is a compromised service, but the sacrament is there and, in a rather important factor for ministry, the people are there. In fact, considering the emphasis in some lutheran circles on increasing the frequency of the sacrament, I would think there might be some discussion on the merit of an abbreviated sacramental service. Note that the article did not say there was NO instruction and NO services with a sermon. This is something they are doing to encourage people to commune daily, and it seems to be a rather striking success.

    And as for the “nude church,” it is referring to services held in the chapel of a nudist colony. I mean, come on!

    I don’t have the answers, but I refuse to condemn those who are making an effort to reach the “culturally besotted.” (Great phrase, by the way.) They are the very people we are supposed to be reaching.

  • Dan Kempin

    Jonathan, #6,

    The church has been doing that for years and years! I remember receiving attendance awards, and pins, and stickers during my sunday school years. Didn’t you? (I’d put one of those smiley winky guys here if I knew how.)

  • Dan Kempin

    Jonathan, #6,

    The church has been doing that for years and years! I remember receiving attendance awards, and pins, and stickers during my sunday school years. Didn’t you? (I’d put one of those smiley winky guys here if I knew how.)

  • Booklover

    Dan, press semi-colon, dash, then right parenthesis! ;-)

  • Booklover

    Dan, press semi-colon, dash, then right parenthesis! ;-)

  • Joe

    I am all for increase in the distribution of the sacrament but Luther was of the view that the Sermon and the Sacrament go together. I don’t have the quote in front of me but you can read all about it in a great book:

    The Benefits of Weekly Communion by Kenneth W. Wieting
    http://www.amazon.com/Blessings-Weekly-Communion-Kenneth-Wieting/dp/0758606141

  • Joe

    I am all for increase in the distribution of the sacrament but Luther was of the view that the Sermon and the Sacrament go together. I don’t have the quote in front of me but you can read all about it in a great book:

    The Benefits of Weekly Communion by Kenneth W. Wieting
    http://www.amazon.com/Blessings-Weekly-Communion-Kenneth-Wieting/dp/0758606141

  • Joe

    Sorry – that should be Blessings – not Benefits (although you do receive both)

  • Joe

    Sorry – that should be Blessings – not Benefits (although you do receive both)

  • Gary

    hand out cell phones and text message the sermon or Twitter the service.

    ..just kidding of course

  • Gary

    hand out cell phones and text message the sermon or Twitter the service.

    ..just kidding of course

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Somehow I don’t know that people are actually trying to reach the culturally besotted in this way…..something about Scripture making it very clear that Jesus did reach out to the prostitutes and tax collectors, but it does not suggest that He ever went into a brothel to do so. We can, and should, discuss how to apply this principle, but I would hope that we would not deny that there are certain limits on the methods we use to reach the lost.

    For starters, given the clear Biblical context of shame around nudity after the Fall, I would suggest that unless we are forcibly stripped, we ought to wear clothes while presenting law and Gospel to people–unless we happen to be married to that person. Even then, methinks maybe spouses ought to enjoy the moment, sharing the Gospel per 1 Corinthians 7, and then share it in other ways later, and when clothed.

    Dan also makes a good point about RC theology–and as he’s right, I find the 15 minute service no more objectionable than a full mass.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Somehow I don’t know that people are actually trying to reach the culturally besotted in this way…..something about Scripture making it very clear that Jesus did reach out to the prostitutes and tax collectors, but it does not suggest that He ever went into a brothel to do so. We can, and should, discuss how to apply this principle, but I would hope that we would not deny that there are certain limits on the methods we use to reach the lost.

    For starters, given the clear Biblical context of shame around nudity after the Fall, I would suggest that unless we are forcibly stripped, we ought to wear clothes while presenting law and Gospel to people–unless we happen to be married to that person. Even then, methinks maybe spouses ought to enjoy the moment, sharing the Gospel per 1 Corinthians 7, and then share it in other ways later, and when clothed.

    Dan also makes a good point about RC theology–and as he’s right, I find the 15 minute service no more objectionable than a full mass.

  • Partizan

    In my next of the woods in Croatia, there’s a small Catholic Church in the town of Cilipi (outside Dubrovnik). Every Sunday during the summer, they have cultural folk dancing and music in the square outside the church, starting right after Mass is over. It’s the only church in the Balkans that I’ve seen packed out every Sunday, with standing room only.

  • Partizan

    In my next of the woods in Croatia, there’s a small Catholic Church in the town of Cilipi (outside Dubrovnik). Every Sunday during the summer, they have cultural folk dancing and music in the square outside the church, starting right after Mass is over. It’s the only church in the Balkans that I’ve seen packed out every Sunday, with standing room only.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Dancing and Music right after the Divine Service in the Summer? Sounds like a very lively coffee hour! – At my church we would have to have a keg as well. Good idea, Partizan – thanks.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Dancing and Music right after the Divine Service in the Summer? Sounds like a very lively coffee hour! – At my church we would have to have a keg as well. Good idea, Partizan – thanks.

  • kerner

    Is “Just As I Am” the favorite hymn at the nudist chapel? Also, I hope they pass out stickers and not pins at the nudist chapel.

    Sorry, but it’s Friday, and I just can’t be too serious today.

  • kerner

    Is “Just As I Am” the favorite hymn at the nudist chapel? Also, I hope they pass out stickers and not pins at the nudist chapel.

    Sorry, but it’s Friday, and I just can’t be too serious today.

  • GEZ

    They could read 2 Corinthians and repent.

    “1Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”

  • GEZ

    They could read 2 Corinthians and repent.

    “1Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”

  • ptl

    we attended a wels church in san jose that had an evening service on saturday nite, which we enjoyed very much!

  • ptl

    we attended a wels church in san jose that had an evening service on saturday nite, which we enjoyed very much!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Yeah, I don’t know. It’s always easy to take shots at people who demonstrate to an extreme degree the problems we see in our own churches and ourselves. It’s harder to take these stories and see how they apply to us.

    I mean, how many people will laugh at the idea of a 15-minute service, and then go to church this week or next where there is no Communion because “having it every week makes the services run too long”?

    And yeah, it’s a church in a nudist colony. They allow people to wear clothes in there. If we have a problem with it, it’s with the nudist philosophy, not the church meeting the needs of people, isn’t it? What would all you looking down at your nose propose for a church in a nudist colony? That they have a sign on the door that says, “Dear nudist, you must wear clothes if you want to hear God’s Word”? Maybe there’s a lesson here along the lines of what Saul’s daughter Michal learned about mocking those worshipping God in a “vulgar” way?

    And, yes, I realize that naked people in church would, for most people, be at best a distraction, and at worst a temptation to sin. Having glanced at the video in that article, I’m pretty that if I were there, my eyes would be firmly glued on the hymnal at all times.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Yeah, I don’t know. It’s always easy to take shots at people who demonstrate to an extreme degree the problems we see in our own churches and ourselves. It’s harder to take these stories and see how they apply to us.

    I mean, how many people will laugh at the idea of a 15-minute service, and then go to church this week or next where there is no Communion because “having it every week makes the services run too long”?

    And yeah, it’s a church in a nudist colony. They allow people to wear clothes in there. If we have a problem with it, it’s with the nudist philosophy, not the church meeting the needs of people, isn’t it? What would all you looking down at your nose propose for a church in a nudist colony? That they have a sign on the door that says, “Dear nudist, you must wear clothes if you want to hear God’s Word”? Maybe there’s a lesson here along the lines of what Saul’s daughter Michal learned about mocking those worshipping God in a “vulgar” way?

    And, yes, I realize that naked people in church would, for most people, be at best a distraction, and at worst a temptation to sin. Having glanced at the video in that article, I’m pretty that if I were there, my eyes would be firmly glued on the hymnal at all times.

  • Peter Leavitt

    In the long run those interested in serious religion could care less about short, glitzy church services. Serious churches are careful about their liturgy and make no compromises about the time that it takes. A fifteen-minute service of communion would be rather comparable to a one-night stand.

  • Peter Leavitt

    In the long run those interested in serious religion could care less about short, glitzy church services. Serious churches are careful about their liturgy and make no compromises about the time that it takes. A fifteen-minute service of communion would be rather comparable to a one-night stand.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    tODD, I’d suggest that a serious minister of the Gospel would take seriously God’s command for modesty and would reach out to the “obese and underclothed” community outside the nudist camps. Just like Jesus reached out to prostitutes…..OUTSIDE the brothels.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    tODD, I’d suggest that a serious minister of the Gospel would take seriously God’s command for modesty and would reach out to the “obese and underclothed” community outside the nudist camps. Just like Jesus reached out to prostitutes…..OUTSIDE the brothels.

  • ptl

    Our preference is for a longer service and better sermons….but it is so hard to find a pastor who can preach well anymore, and a congregation that isn’t in a hurry to go do something else. Perhaps those 2 things go together and are driving the demand for shorter services? Horrible sermons and better things to do than painfully endure them? Yes, why not want to get out quickly if the sermon is pathetically pedestrian, and delivered in an equally boring style, especially when compared to all the other slick entertainment venues of our modern culture? Guess in a certain sense, it is not that curious that this is the case more often than not in today’s modern churches. The mystery and the sacredness of our faith has been sold out for the sake of modern relevance or trivialized by it.

  • ptl

    Our preference is for a longer service and better sermons….but it is so hard to find a pastor who can preach well anymore, and a congregation that isn’t in a hurry to go do something else. Perhaps those 2 things go together and are driving the demand for shorter services? Horrible sermons and better things to do than painfully endure them? Yes, why not want to get out quickly if the sermon is pathetically pedestrian, and delivered in an equally boring style, especially when compared to all the other slick entertainment venues of our modern culture? Guess in a certain sense, it is not that curious that this is the case more often than not in today’s modern churches. The mystery and the sacredness of our faith has been sold out for the sake of modern relevance or trivialized by it.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@20), did you read the article? This isn’t a Sunday morning thing. It’s for people before they go off to work. It used to be at 9 am and lasted however long, which made it utterly unsuitable for people going off to work. Now it’s at 7:20 am and is short enough that people still make it to work on time. Why is that a bad idea, per se? Would you rather that people just not go at all, rather than be refreshed with liturgy and sacrament daily?

    Bubba (@21), again, I’m not saying that I agree with the nudist philosophy. But would you rather they host a clothing-required service that would not reach many nudists? I’m just wondering. Which is better: that more people hear God’s Word in an inappropriate setting, or fewer people hear God’s Word, but those of us outside are not offended? Also, are you familiar with the story of Michal? Finally, how do you know they’re not reaching out to people outside the nudist camps? Is a worship service only for outreach, or is it directed at the members of the congregation?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@20), did you read the article? This isn’t a Sunday morning thing. It’s for people before they go off to work. It used to be at 9 am and lasted however long, which made it utterly unsuitable for people going off to work. Now it’s at 7:20 am and is short enough that people still make it to work on time. Why is that a bad idea, per se? Would you rather that people just not go at all, rather than be refreshed with liturgy and sacrament daily?

    Bubba (@21), again, I’m not saying that I agree with the nudist philosophy. But would you rather they host a clothing-required service that would not reach many nudists? I’m just wondering. Which is better: that more people hear God’s Word in an inappropriate setting, or fewer people hear God’s Word, but those of us outside are not offended? Also, are you familiar with the story of Michal? Finally, how do you know they’re not reaching out to people outside the nudist camps? Is a worship service only for outreach, or is it directed at the members of the congregation?

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, when it comes to liturgy it is best not to cut corners, even for those who work on that day. Our church provides on a personal basis the full communion liturgy for those who are house-bound or unable to make the regular service.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, when it comes to liturgy it is best not to cut corners, even for those who work on that day. Our church provides on a personal basis the full communion liturgy for those who are house-bound or unable to make the regular service.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter, when you say (@24), “for those who work on that day”, it makes me think you still haven’t read the article, or my comment above (@23). This isn’t a weekly mass we’re talking about. This is not about “the regular service”. It’s a mass that takes place every day.

    So, again, which do you think is better: a long mass held at 9 am that no working people can attend, or a short mass held at 7:20 am that many working people can attend?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter, when you say (@24), “for those who work on that day”, it makes me think you still haven’t read the article, or my comment above (@23). This isn’t a weekly mass we’re talking about. This is not about “the regular service”. It’s a mass that takes place every day.

    So, again, which do you think is better: a long mass held at 9 am that no working people can attend, or a short mass held at 7:20 am that many working people can attend?

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, I fully read that article and still regard the fifteen-minute mass as a foolish compromise. At the least a proper Mass or Christian service ougth to last half an hour. At best they last an hour and a half, which is about average for the church to which I belong. Again those who can’t make it to the weekly service are provided a persona service.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, I fully read that article and still regard the fifteen-minute mass as a foolish compromise. At the least a proper Mass or Christian service ougth to last half an hour. At best they last an hour and a half, which is about average for the church to which I belong. Again those who can’t make it to the weekly service are provided a persona service.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@26), you didn’t read it very closely. I’ll say it again, this time in bold type: This isn’t a weekly service we’re talking about. It is a daily service.

    Also, prescriptions on how long a church service “ought” to last are ridiculous.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@26), you didn’t read it very closely. I’ll say it again, this time in bold type: This isn’t a weekly service we’re talking about. It is a daily service.

    Also, prescriptions on how long a church service “ought” to last are ridiculous.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, you’re at your usual nitpicking. As to length of service, perhaps it;s a matter of taste; some have it; some don’t.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, you’re at your usual nitpicking. As to length of service, perhaps it;s a matter of taste; some have it; some don’t.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@28), what you call “nitpicking”, I call “comprehending the story”. You’re repeatedly treating this story as if it were about a Sunday-morning mass cut to 15 minutes. Which it isn’t. It isn’t about that at all.

    Again, I will ask, why is a short daily service a bad idea? Would you rather that people just not go at all, rather than be refreshed with liturgy and sacrament daily? And again, I will ask, which do you think is better: a long mass held at 9 am that no working people can attend, or a short mass held at 7:20 am that many working people can attend?

    You never answer these questions. You’d apparently much rather dish out clichéd ruminations on “taste”.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@28), what you call “nitpicking”, I call “comprehending the story”. You’re repeatedly treating this story as if it were about a Sunday-morning mass cut to 15 minutes. Which it isn’t. It isn’t about that at all.

    Again, I will ask, why is a short daily service a bad idea? Would you rather that people just not go at all, rather than be refreshed with liturgy and sacrament daily? And again, I will ask, which do you think is better: a long mass held at 9 am that no working people can attend, or a short mass held at 7:20 am that many working people can attend?

    You never answer these questions. You’d apparently much rather dish out clichéd ruminations on “taste”.

  • Mark

    I just don’t think anything should be done in the Church half-mass.

  • Mark

    I just don’t think anything should be done in the Church half-mass.

  • LAJ

    Whenever people take communion, they need to be properly prepared. Whether it’s a daily service or a Sunday service, I think Peter is right. Are you really confessing your sins, receiving absolution, confessing the Creed, hearing the Gospel preached, and receiving the Sacrament all in 15 minutes? I don’t think so. It might be better to read Scriptures for 15 minutes.

  • LAJ

    Whenever people take communion, they need to be properly prepared. Whether it’s a daily service or a Sunday service, I think Peter is right. Are you really confessing your sins, receiving absolution, confessing the Creed, hearing the Gospel preached, and receiving the Sacrament all in 15 minutes? I don’t think so. It might be better to read Scriptures for 15 minutes.

  • Dan Kempin

    Peter, #26,

    “At the least a proper Mass or Christian service ougth to last half an hour. At best they last an hour and a half . . .”

    What is “proper” and “ought” to be done in the church is not to be determined by one person’s arbitrary preference. It is scripture that must be the guide for practice, and scripture says nothing about the form or length of service.

    LAJ, #31,

    “Whenever people take communion, they need to be properly prepared.”

    Kudos on being the first person I have heard to bring a truly confessional lutheran perspective to the discussion of the sacrament. (I’m going to go ahead and assume that you are lutheran.) Most–oh heck, I’ll say it–all of what I have heard in the lutheran discussion of recent years has been about frequency, (See Joe at #10),to which I certainly do not object. If you actually read the actual confessions, though, they give almost none of the emphasis to frequency. What they DO emphasize, and I mean they emphasize it practically every time the sacrament is brought up, is preparation.

    Right on, bro!

    (Or sis. It’s hard to tell from initials.)

  • Dan Kempin

    Peter, #26,

    “At the least a proper Mass or Christian service ougth to last half an hour. At best they last an hour and a half . . .”

    What is “proper” and “ought” to be done in the church is not to be determined by one person’s arbitrary preference. It is scripture that must be the guide for practice, and scripture says nothing about the form or length of service.

    LAJ, #31,

    “Whenever people take communion, they need to be properly prepared.”

    Kudos on being the first person I have heard to bring a truly confessional lutheran perspective to the discussion of the sacrament. (I’m going to go ahead and assume that you are lutheran.) Most–oh heck, I’ll say it–all of what I have heard in the lutheran discussion of recent years has been about frequency, (See Joe at #10),to which I certainly do not object. If you actually read the actual confessions, though, they give almost none of the emphasis to frequency. What they DO emphasize, and I mean they emphasize it practically every time the sacrament is brought up, is preparation.

    Right on, bro!

    (Or sis. It’s hard to tell from initials.)

  • LAJ

    Thank you for your encouragement. Yes, I am Lutheran and a sis!

  • LAJ

    Thank you for your encouragement. Yes, I am Lutheran and a sis!

  • Mark

    LAJ @ 31 Amen to your posting. And to regard His Body and Blood as ‘fast food’ seems almost blasphemous. His Word takes time in the soil to grow and come to life. As a priest says in the novel, The Diary of a Country Priest, ‘You can’t expect to teach people joy in one wretched half-hour a week.’ A member at soon to be my former congregation said to me, Pastor, you know what the IHS stands for?…one hour service.’ I thought that clever but not any longer. I have willingly participated in the cultural accommodationism of the Churchfor so long to be ‘relevant’ and ‘reach-out’. I have seen ‘how far we’ll go’ now for some 26 years of ordained ministry: see the main-line prots. The Church is called by her Lord not to be like the world. With a fast food approach to church, we are selling out again by marketing the Word. As it is written: “For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.” 2 Cor. 2 17 ESV

  • Mark

    LAJ @ 31 Amen to your posting. And to regard His Body and Blood as ‘fast food’ seems almost blasphemous. His Word takes time in the soil to grow and come to life. As a priest says in the novel, The Diary of a Country Priest, ‘You can’t expect to teach people joy in one wretched half-hour a week.’ A member at soon to be my former congregation said to me, Pastor, you know what the IHS stands for?…one hour service.’ I thought that clever but not any longer. I have willingly participated in the cultural accommodationism of the Churchfor so long to be ‘relevant’ and ‘reach-out’. I have seen ‘how far we’ll go’ now for some 26 years of ordained ministry: see the main-line prots. The Church is called by her Lord not to be like the world. With a fast food approach to church, we are selling out again by marketing the Word. As it is written: “For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.” 2 Cor. 2 17 ESV

  • LAJ

    Right on. And in trying to be culturally current, the churches have sent the culture to moral decay. Why do some churches grow and others don’t? People have itching ears and go where they like what they hear whether it’s beneficial or not. So it may not at all be the fault of the church or the pastor who is preaching the Gospel, but the fault of those who are looking for the wrong thing.

  • LAJ

    Right on. And in trying to be culturally current, the churches have sent the culture to moral decay. Why do some churches grow and others don’t? People have itching ears and go where they like what they hear whether it’s beneficial or not. So it may not at all be the fault of the church or the pastor who is preaching the Gospel, but the fault of those who are looking for the wrong thing.

  • Mark

    Yup: if salt has lost it’s saltiness…as G. K. Chesterton wrote:
    ” But salt seasons and preserves beef, not because it is like beef; but because it is very unlike it. Christ did not tell his apostles that they were only the excellent people, or the only excellent people, but that they were the exceptional people; the permanently incongruous and incompatible people; and the text about the salt of the earth is really as sharp and shrewd and tart as the taste of salt. It is because they were the exceptional people, that they must not lose their exceptional quality. “If salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted?” is a much more pointed question than any mere lament over the price of the best beef. If the world grows too worldly, it can be rebuked by the Church; but if the Church grows too worldly, it cannot be adequately rebuked for worldliness by the world.”

    BTW: the Greek word in the text, usually translated “itching” ears, according to the Lexicon, Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich, has connotations of , “ears wanting to tickled”, delighted, what we want to hear, not what the Lord knows we need to hear and sink in. And yes, it might not be the fault of the pastor who is actually preaching the Gospel, but the congregation…but it can be by mutual agreement, and that is ever more frightening.

  • Mark

    Yup: if salt has lost it’s saltiness…as G. K. Chesterton wrote:
    ” But salt seasons and preserves beef, not because it is like beef; but because it is very unlike it. Christ did not tell his apostles that they were only the excellent people, or the only excellent people, but that they were the exceptional people; the permanently incongruous and incompatible people; and the text about the salt of the earth is really as sharp and shrewd and tart as the taste of salt. It is because they were the exceptional people, that they must not lose their exceptional quality. “If salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted?” is a much more pointed question than any mere lament over the price of the best beef. If the world grows too worldly, it can be rebuked by the Church; but if the Church grows too worldly, it cannot be adequately rebuked for worldliness by the world.”

    BTW: the Greek word in the text, usually translated “itching” ears, according to the Lexicon, Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich, has connotations of , “ears wanting to tickled”, delighted, what we want to hear, not what the Lord knows we need to hear and sink in. And yes, it might not be the fault of the pastor who is actually preaching the Gospel, but the congregation…but it can be by mutual agreement, and that is ever more frightening.

  • Pingback: Where Your Birthday Suit is Your Church Clothes » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog

  • Pingback: Where Your Birthday Suit is Your Church Clothes » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    tODD, I guess I’m saying that a clothing optional service isn’t really reaching anyone for Christ because the very premise is something that goes contrary to the Word. Those who start their ministries in radical disobedience find fruits corresponding to their starting point.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    tODD, I guess I’m saying that a clothing optional service isn’t really reaching anyone for Christ because the very premise is something that goes contrary to the Word. Those who start their ministries in radical disobedience find fruits corresponding to their starting point.


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