Holy Discomfort | UMC YoungPeople
Connecting young people and their adult leaders to God, the church, and the world
July 2012

Holy Discomfort

By: Jarrod Johnston

Two summers ago, my wife had the privilege to run a summer mission center in South Louisiana, to assist in Katrina relief (work that is still going on). It was nearly a 24/7 job for three months, so in order to spend any time with her at all I served as her worship leader for that summer. It was a fun way to volunteer and to be in ministry with my wife.

She had a crew of four college interns that helped guide the youth groups that came from all over the country to serve and help rebuild the homes of people who, five years after Katrina, weren't really remembered on a national-news-scale anymore. But not only did these college students work all day, they helped lead worship in the evenings, leading prayers and offering devotional testimony. There's one story in particular, that I heard every week from a young man who felt a Christ-like call to be 'uncomfortable,' that sticks with me today.

This young man spent as much time as possible as he could on various mission projects. As a matter of fact, when he received his one week off during the summer to do whatever he wanted, he went to Mexico for a week to build houses. If he wasn't on the move serving others with his hands, he felt it was time wasted. He was particularly affected by what he had seen in the country of Mexico - how people were able to get by on literally nothing and still be full of so much faith and hope. He never knew what kind of conditions he would be invited to stay in either, but he felt that was part of the missional journey ... Being a follower of Christ has nothing to do with comfort, if anything it's about discomfort ... When Christ's earthly ministry started, he never stopped moving, except to heal, teach, and pray. As my pastor says often, Christ was a true itinerant preacher.

Most people seem to like comfort in a church. Comfy seats. Beautifully appointed sanctuaries. Classrooms with full-on sound systems.

We're also comfortable with specific kinds of music. In fact, music may be one of the things we obsess about the most in our corporate worship experiences. And it can get pretty contentious. It's energizing to see, even in a more traditional worship experience (maybe especially) when somebody throws up their hands in praise. But then we learn a new hymn, and, well, the feedback isn't always great. Regardless of how the message was meant to be heard that day.

I'm not saying that the Temples we make aren't beautiful, they are dedicated to the Glory of God and we the church need places to gather. But what would the church, the Body of Christ, be like if we didn't seek comfort? If we constantly sought new and beautiful ways to make the Word incarnate in the world today? What if we lived as if the local church was called to discomfort? What would we build together then?