How comfortable are you feeling right now? Most of us like to feel comfortable.
And yet I increasingly believe that we learn life’s most important lessons when we are uncomfortable. And I’m not talking about mattresses and shoes.
I’m talking about embracing uncomfortable situations and having uncomfortable conversations. This is how we stretch and grow and move forward. Or we can seek comfort and stay where we are.
The National Gathering of NEXT Church is perennially inspiring, fun, and motivating. Yes, there have been speakers who jolt us and spark new ideas. The 2020 National Gathering – in particular – promises to make us uncomfortable.
Keynoters Mike Mather, De’Amon Harges, and Miguel de la Torre will make us decidedly uncomfortable in Cincinnati March 2-4, 2020. And this is very good.
One of the questions Brene Brown asks in her book Daring Greatly when trying to figure out an institution’s culture is this one:
What’s the collective tolerance for discomfort? Is the discomfort of learning, trying new things, and giving and receiving feedback normalized, or is there a high premium put on comfort (and how does that look)?
Let’s say you are sitting in a church pew on Sunday morning and a guy comes in wearing a torn t-shirt and he smells bad. And he sits beside you. Or there’s a woman you’ve never seen before who sobs throughout the whole worship service. Do you approach her? Or there’s a young man clearly dealing with some sort of brain injury who is sitting behind you in worship and he keeps touching your hair. All these things make us uncomfortable. All these things are opportunities to love someone.
Spiritual growth is essential for humans and we have a lot of growing to do if we are going to follow Jesus in a tumultuous world. And it’s going to be uncomfortable, but also holy and worth it.
I hope you consider welcoming some uncomfortable conversations with Mike, De’Amon, and Miguel in March. Register for NEXT Church here. It will be holy and worth it.
Image is one I use when talking with congregations about being uncomfortable in church. How would you feel sitting beside this guy next Sunday? And what could we learn from him? And what could we learn about ourselves?
And then there is the “stranger” who is wearing an oversized coat, obviously sporting a wig and fake beard. A few church folks look at him uncomfortably as he sits in the pew during the worship service. The church volunteer security team positions themselves for possible conversation and, God forbid, action. He rises from his seat and disaster happens as he shoots and kills a volunteer. A Session conversation about this very current scenario could possibly divide a church as we imagine how best to secure a morning worship service. So the question then becomes how do we feel and what could we learn about a stranger with mental illness and a hidden intent of fatally harming a congregation? The questions are tough. Do we risk asking them? Do these questions fall to a few church leaders? Loving the stranger. Protecting our flock.
Yep. The most loving thing we can do in some cases is keep everyone secure.
I’m serving a very small congregation (double digits is a good Sunday) that rejects anything uncomfortable. As in they leave the church and don’t come back. Those who are left have two requirements: sermons give comfort, and strength to get through the week, individually. They push back on anything that encourages community EVEN AMONG THEMSELVES. And being small and mostly elderly, there is no interest in any activity outside worship, so everything hangs on the sermons. I’ve changed my core message three times, and each time they complain about the new focus. So discomfort? That would be the death of this church. Nothing but “comfort” may be the death of me.
Pingback: Mike, De'Amon, and Miguel - NEXT Church