It’s a Sunday morning, you are getting coffee after the worship service. You say ‘hi’ to someone, and they ask how things are going. You say, “fine, how are you?”. “Good,” they say. Then you stare at each other, utterly helpless to move the conversation along. Awkward church moments-and they happen all the time.
Recently I was alerted to a new book out (Brent McCracken, Uncomfortable: The Awkward and Essential Challenge of Christian Community),* and I was stunned by the foreword written by Russel Moore. Here is an excerpt:
That sense of awkwardness can hinder us, in many ways, but it can also be a gift. That uncomfortable feeling can remind us that there are times when we don’t know just what to say or do. It can give us a compassion for the occasional awkwardness of those around us. It can remind us that we are part of a humanity that, from our near-earliest history, found ourselves furtively hiding in the bushes from the presence of our God (Gen. 3:8–10).
We often, though, want to protect ourselves from awkwardness. We want to appear to know just what to say, just what to do, just how to act—in ways that can either distinguish us or help us to blend in with whatever herd we’ve chosen. Sometimes that self-protection means deflecting the very reality—presence and relatedness—that can draw us out of ourselves and toward wholeness. The intense moment, the “I love you” or the “I am concerned about you” or the “Here’s what you mean to me” moment, becomes deflected with a joke or a change of subject. Sometimes it is not comfortable to be loved… (12)
In a church, be it big or small, there will always be the temptation to run away. But what Christ has done is pulled us together in this wet-and-wild thing called the Church, which is so dear to Him that He calls it his body. The church is filled with people who are not like me, who don’t always get it right the first time, who don’t always know what to say or don’t always say the right things at the right times–but all who have been bought by Christ and have been sovereignly placed in my life for us to grow together and encourage one another. Even if it does get a little awkward.
*Brett McCracken, Uncomfortable: The Awkward and Essential Challenge of Christian Community (Crossway, 2017; Wheaton IL)