Are You a Church Snob?

Mar 15, 2012

Sunday I spoke at a church in the middle of nowhere.

It took me two hours and a handy GPS to find this little church in the middle of a single, square-block town buried in the Rocky Mountains. When we pulled up, my son and I both did a double-take.

Surely not.

But, surely YES. This was, indeed, the church I was booked to speak at. The entire building looked like something out of a Laura Ingalls Wilder book. A green and white, one room schoolhouse that morphed into a church building on the weekend. It could have fit on the main floor of my house. With extra space left over.

My pride would love to mask my true response, but authenticity requires otherwise:

What in the world am I doing here?

What transpired in the next 3 hours more than answered my question. Sure, I gave a 45 minute message, and it went “alright.” It was a brand new message, and still had some kinks to work out. But that didn’t even matter. It wasn’t about me and my silly little message. It was about a lesson I needed to learn. Again. This is what happened:

  • I watched a group of 40 people — as different from each other as grapes and carrots — worship God in complete unity.
  • I listened to several individuals talk about their incredible faith journey.
  • I marveled at undivided attention and enthusiasm toward the Word of God.
  • I sat at the edge of my seat as I listened to a group of teenagers tell me their stories of adoption (nearly all the youth in this church are adopted).
  • I received a man’s words of encouragement as he scurried off to deliver food to a food bank in the community.
  • I listened as a cancer survivor told her story about 4th stage breast cancer and the 6 kids she’s still raising (3 adopted).
  • I sat slack-jawed as parents told me how God called them to adopt children who were not their own after raising many others.

Sometimes the churches closest to God’s heart and mission come in packages we don’t expect. This is a church of a few dozen people who are day-in and day-out living the Great Commission. They’re feeding the hungry, providing financial opportunities to the struggling, taking in the orphans, and preaching the Word, in season and out of season.

And I was brought to my knees in humility before the awesomeness of God.

Once again, God graciously showed me little corners of my heart still harboring pride and arrogance. Sometimes I think my big, shiny church is doing it better than everyone else. Shame on me. I realize that as much as I love Jesus and try to live for him, sometimes I can still be a church snob.

How about you? You might be a church snob if you:

  • Judge the effectiveness of a church by the size of the building
  • Esteem a ministry according to the prominence of its leader(s)
  • Measure success solely by the Sunday morning attendance
  • Determine the worth of the message according to appearance of its package

40 people in a remote, financially strapped community being Jesus to the poor, lost and lonely.

I could learn a thing or two from them about being the church. Like a widow with two pennies, sometimes it is the world’s invisible people that God sees most of all.

Have you ever caught yourself being a church snob? Have you ever been surprised by God’s activity in unexpected places? 

25 Comments

  1. SandySinger

    Thanks for posting. What an encouragement!

    Reply
    • Michele

      Thank you, Sandy. I’m so glad this church was an encouragement to you, too!

      Reply
  2. Sarah Beckman

    Awesome! Great reminder and God’s amazing power when we do our part and “Just SHOW UP!” So glad you were blessed, I”m sure they were by your message too!!!! YOU ROCK.

    Reply
    • Michele

      He is truly at work — all the time, in the most amazing ways. Thanks, Sarah!

      Reply
  3. Lisa Tiernan

    This is truth, and so beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • Michele

      Thank you, Lisa. It’s an amazing church!

      Reply
  4. Jeff Goins

    This is an easy question. Yes, yes I am.

    Reply
    • Michele

      I’m quite sure there are more than just a few of us out there …

      Reply
  5. Jerolyn

    Ouch!! I’d like to think I’m not but I’m afraid my humaness would prove otherwise.

    Reply
    • Michele

      Ouch for me, too. 🙂 I’d like to think I’m not, and for the most part I think my intentions/heart is in the right place. But I’m always surprised at how easily those little things pop up and remind me of my deep need for grace. And Jesus.

      Reply
  6. stacyneus

    Great post, Michele. Sadly, Christian Americans have a big problem with this. (I guess that includes me). Yet, I’m trying to break the mold. Our churches have enough money to give to any new cause, but we have a hard time “doing the work”. Its easier to give money for a coat than to put a coat on a homeless person. Jesus didn’t ask us to give more money. He told us to be His hands and feet. Thank you for the challenge.

    Reply
    • Michele

      Well said! You’re absolutely right … often it’s easier to write the check than serve the food. Thanks, Stacy.

      Reply
  7. Bernard Haynes

    Great post Michele. This happened to me a few years ago. I visited a friend of mine at his church one Saturday morning. I was going to share how I could help him. After I presented my material, he gave me a tour of his facilities.

    When he had finished with the tour I was blown away. They had no more than a 100 members, but they had transformed a building into a lovely church that was totally debt free. They had a warehouse in that building that they gave out furniture and supplies to people that were in transition. They also had a 12 to 15 bed men transitional housing with a full time person on staff that lived there with the men. They had another warehouse in a different location that gave furniture and supplies to men that were making a transition. There were other incredible things they were doing with about 100 people counting children.

    God showed me that day that He can do great things through people with a willing heart. He doesn’t base things on the number of people, size of building or the prestige of person. He looks at the intent of the heart.
    I hated to be so long, but I had to share.

    Reply
    • Michele

      I’m so glad you did! Wow … this is an incredible story, Bernard. And EXACTLY what I was trying to convey in this post. God is writing beautiful stories through the most unlikely of people and situations. It’s beautiful!

      Reply
  8. Pastor Ray

    Michele, you are aware of my grand versatility with the electronic world so I am amazed that I found this site as all I was looking for was your address to send you a CD you may enjoy.

    I find your kind words about our little group of sinners saved by grace to be most encouraging. I will share all the comments with the Church Sunday.

    I wish to say to Sarah, Yes – MICHELE ROCKED (cause Michele needs to know how much we grew from her being there).

    Bernard, I have found that all churches have a small band of angels doing God’s work, they just are seldom the ones that you get introduced to the first time around.

    I know all of you that posted either are or have the desire to be on the front lines or you would not be associating with the likes of Michele.

    Thanks again, Michele, for you and your son sharing a piece of your life and wisdom with us in “the middle of now where”. (That is actually old Hebrew for “The beautiful and harsh area just below timberline”) What you have taken time to share here and the responses will bring a few tears to our church Sunday.

    God Bless You All and The Holly Spirit Be Felt An Extra Measure.

    Pastor Ray

    Reply
    • Michele

      Pastor Ray, I’m deeply grateful for all you’re doing in your community … and the great effort you went to in order to find my website! 🙂 My hope is that this post would encourage others (including myself) to serve diligently, quietly, steadfastly. You are doing that, and I’m so glad this article encouraged you. Press on!

      Reply
  9. shirley

    WOW! a wonderful message. If I hadn’t spoken with my brother earlier this month I would not have know that you are speaking of his community and the church he attends. I am proud of his family. We were raised to work hard and follow the guidence of God. For this I am constantly thankful for the closeness of our family, our relationship with God. We have all walked on different paths but we still belong to the teachings of the Bible and the love of our Heavenly Father. Thank you for sharing. 90902

    Reply
    • Michele

      Shirley, what a privilege to meet you — and to see you again here! Your comment reminded me of Micah 6:8: “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” The perfect prescription for the church — anywhere.

      Reply
  10. suzy

    indeed, this is what it’s all about… THIS is why I keep clicking (carefully) — to elevate this conversation in my mind, heart and in my community. thanks Michele.

    Reply
    • Michele

      Yes, me too. Thanks for your comments and heart, Suzy.

      Reply
  11. Curtis

    I am indeed a church snob Michele… way to bring out the conviction! I love your discussion about community and a church that is truly doing life together.

    One question… how did you find yourself speaking at a church like that in the first place?

    Reply
    • Michele

      Hope I didn’t step on any toes TOO hard, Curtis! Be reassured I was convicted more than anyone. I have much to learn.

      In answer to your question (and I apologize for taking too long to answer it), the pastor’s daughter heard me speak at a large event in Colorado Springs. And Pastor Ray felt like a similar message would encourage his congregation. Another example of how God’s activity is so much richer than man’s manipulation.

      Reply
  12. Jessica Frost

    YES-MICHELE ROCKS!!! You were a GREAT influence on our church. Thank you:)

    Reply
    • Michele

      Thank you, dear Jessica. LOVED meeting all of you!

      Reply
  13. Diane

    I visited this very special church for the first time this past Saturday. Pastor Ray and his family are long time dear friends. I experienced “church” in its purest and simplest form, and was very blessed.

    Reply

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