Oh how we love to rate things.

I love top ten lists. They’re fun, interesting, and there’s an art to writing one well so that it reads with some music, humor, and suspense.

I reluctantly rate movies by a letter-grade system when I review them, so that I have simple language for separating the rewarding experiences from those that are a waste of time.

But this?

The San Diego Reader, and I have to assume many other media outlets besides, actually rates CHURCHES. It rates worship services. It scores them with a checklist that includes, yes, SNACKS.


If churches sit still for this — heaven forbid, if they encourage it — it just turns the house of God into a den of people-pleasers, a theatre that seeks to earn the approval of others instead of a place for people to gather seeking God and His pleasure.

People who base their selection of a church by the quality of the snacks are just consumers. They’re not worshippers. A person should not judge a church by how well it makes them comfortable and happy. They should go to worship, to build up other believers, and to celebrate what God has done. The church leaders should be focused on leading worship and serving God, not scoring points with visitors.

I have often wondered why Christians, of all people, do not feel more dedicated to churches where they are uncomfortable, choosing to respond to what is lacking with their own efforts of love and service. To so many people, church is just “whatever gives me that spiritual buzz and sends me home feeling okay about myself.”

My favorite church joke was told by Ashley Cleveland before her show at Cornerstone last summer. Here’s my own attempt at it:

There was a man stranded on an island in the middle of the ocean for many years. One day, sailors on a passing ship sighted him and dropped anchor. As the delighted man walked with his rescuers back to their boat, the sailors pointed to three clay huts in the distance.

“What are those three huts?” they asked.

“Oh, those,” said the survivor. “Well, that first hut… that’s my home. It’s where I’ve taken shelter and slept all of these years.”

“What about the second hut?” they asked.

“The second hut—that’s where I worship God,” said the survivor. “That’s my church.”

“I see,” said the sailor. “And the third hut? What is that?”

“Oh… that. That’s where I used to go to church.”

Privacy Preference Center