Have you noticed how our world revolves around comfort? People speak about comfort zones and safe spaces where people can be themselves. You can pretty much do whatever you want as long as you’re comfortable with it.
This pursuit of comfort has made its way into the church.
People choose churches based on what they are more comfortable with. Some people go towards churches that have a particular music style, some to a certain type of preaching. But the pursuit of a comfortable Christianity or a comfortable church is not a good thing.
Comfortable church means consumerism, comfortable preaching, comfortable relationship, comfortable discipleship, comfortable spiritual growth and comfortable theology. McCracken puts it this was
‘This mind-set [of consumerism and comfort] has infiltrated the way we approach church: as a thing we can design according to our checklist of preferences. And if a church stops catering to our desires or makes us uncomfortable (the pastor says something disagreeable, worship music becomes too saccharine, someone speaks in tongues), we move on. There are dozens of other options in town’
But as I read the Bible I don’t see the church being called to a comfortable life.
Brett McCracken had written a great book Uncomfortable: The Awkward and Essential Challenge of Christian Community which is a cry to every Christian and every church to examine themselves. We naturally tend towards things that we are comfortable with. But can we trust our own hearts when it comes to deciding which church is best for us?
‘What we think we want from a church is almost never what we need. However challenging it may be to embrace, God’s idea of church is far more glorious than any dream church we could conjure. It’s not about finding a church that perfectly fits my theological, architectural, or political preferences. It’s about becoming like “living stones” that are “being built up as a spiritual house” focused on and held together by Jesus, the stone the builder rejected who became the cornerstone (1 Pet. 2:4-7’
This book is split into two parts. The first part is about uncomfortable faith, how the lifestyle that Jesus calls his followers to is not one of comfort. McCracken challenges the reader to consider and embrace the discomfort that being a Christian brings; self-denial, sacrifice, holiness, mission and evangelism, unity, commitment and living counter-culturally.
The second part of the book is about uncomfortable church. These chapters are a breath of fresh air. They are winsome and they tell the truth of real life church with all of the ups and downs. The second part of this book calls us to be the church that the Bible calls us to be.
The truth is that God wants uncomfortable Christianity and an uncomfortable church. We should not settle for what we want but look to God’s Word to see what He has planned and designed for His church and His people to be like.
My one critique, of this great book, is McCracken’s analysis of the discussion between continuationists (the continuation of the spiritual gifts) and cessationists (the understanding that God no longer works through individuals to bring about the miraculous). Don’t hate me for those very brief definitions, whole essays and books can be written on both sides of the debate, and they have, so a few words is quite tough!
McCracken seems to think that the reason people are cessationists is because they don’t wish to ‘relinquish control’. My issue with this, as someone who was a cessationist, is that this is far too simplistic a view of the position. I believe that both of these positions can be found in Scripture and McCracken was maybe a bit too quick to brush off the cessationist view.
Having said that, this book is great and I highly recommend you read it. You will be shaken up, be moved out of your comfortable Christianity and comfortable church to be the kind of disciples that we are called to be! You can buy a copy here. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this review and on your thoughts about the book if you’ve read it, drop a comment below and let me know what you think.
Brett McCracken is the managing editor of Biola Magazine at Biola University and the author of Hipster Christianity and Gray Matters. He writes regularly for the Gospel Coalition website, Christianity Today, Relevant, and his website, BrettMcCracken.com.