Book Review: Uncomfortable, by Brett McCracken

Review 10.05.2017

Brett McCracken, Uncomfortable: The Awkward and Essential Challenge of Christian Community. Crossway, 2017. 224 pp, $15.99.

“Medium roast coffee beans, please.”
The counter was splendorous, arrayed with a vastness of choice. Picking and choosing the beans I’d take home was a delight. I ensured it was a good bag by squeezing it and allowing the aroma of the beans to exude out of the tiny holes near the top. Now, some would certainly consider my infatuation with coffee to be obnoxious, elitist, or perhaps just straight up
weird. Regardless of how you perceive it, the point is that I like my coffee in a particular way. Anything other than what I prefer is, well, simplyuncomfortable, and comfort brings joy, ease, and satisfaction. This is the reality we live in: we all seek after comfort.

Unfortunately, this pursuit of comfort has made its way into our lives as Christians as well as in the church. We want comfortable pews, comfortable music, comfortable preaching, comfortable relationships, comfortable sanctification, comfortable accountability, and even comfortable post-sermon coffee (medium roast, of course)! The point is, we’re all after comfort.

But just because something is true speaks nothing of its validity. This is why Brett McCracken sets out in his book, Uncomfortable: The Awkward and Essential Challenge of Christian Community, to defy the notions of comfortableness that have crept into the Christian life and church. McCracken calls the church to examine itself. For too long, the Western church has ignored the ways culture has shaped its understanding of comfort. In McCracken’s words: “Our consumerist culture has conditioned us to believe that no one and nothing should ever get between us and what we want. The result is that personal preferences become sacrosanct” (162).

Thesolutions, of course,don’texactlyresemble a comfortable picture.But such correctives are indeed needed, and McCracken provides us with a fitting and necessary reminder of what we as Christians and the church are called to in this life.


“When the Christian church is comfortable and cultural, she tends to be weak. When she is uncomfortable and countercultural, she tends to be strong” (34). Built on this foundation, Uncomfortable is made up of two parts: Uncomfortable Faith and Uncomfortable Church.
The former seeks to raise the alarm and remind us of our crucified Savior. The Christian faith is comprised of the uncomfortable
cross, an uncomfortable call to holiness, uncomfortable truths that define us, uncomfortable loveof others, the uncomfortable Comforter who sanctifies us, and the uncomfortable work of mission.

This uncomfortable “faith” gives birth to and dramatically interacts with the second part: the UncomfortableChurch. For McCracken, the church is “the body of Christ, the organism God has chosen

to physically manifest the Son to the world by the power of the Holy Spirit” (119). In any given church, we experience and have to live with the reality of dealing with an uncomfortable people, diversity, worship, authority, unity, and commitment. McCracken concludes Part Two with the chapter “Countercultural Comfort,” which offers a final plea and exhortation for the church to vindicate itself. He writes, “If the church is to thrive in the twenty-first century she must recover the jarring and profound paradoxes of what Christ calls her to embody: a kingdom where last is first, giving is receiving, dying is living, losing is finding, least is greatest, poor is rich, weakness is strength, serving is ruling” (190).


There’s so much of this book that I enjoyed and was challenged by. McCracken’s writing is fresh, and invigorated with genuine concern and care for the church’s witness in our modern world. In many ways, reading Uncomfortable provided me with a “theology of comfort.” A few things in particular stand out. Firstly, Part One reminded me of what the Christian life is and what it ought to resemble. Do you have brothers and sisters in your church struggling to conceive of how the cross ought to impact their lives? Or does your church perhaps seek after authenticity over holiness? Giving away this book to church members will certainly aid in providing biblical correctives to a consumerist conception of Christianity that unthinkingly pervades the minds of our flocks.

Secondly, McCracken exposes the error in attempting to blend our churches in with the cultural landscape. The Christian life is a calling to be set apart. This inevitably leads to uncomfortable living. We need to not so much care about the world’s opinion of us, as much as we care about what God thinks about his church:

The Christian life is not a call to be true to yourself. It’s a call to deny yourself, or at least to deny those parts

of yourself that are incompatible with the human type we should all aspire to imitate: Jesus Christ. (66–67) Thirdly, McCracken helpfully steers the analysis of consumeristic Christianity to the particular focus of the church. Sadly, our “comfort idolatry” and “personal-preference individualism” (145) aren’t left at the door. McCracken’s insights into fighting against the contemporary Western culture are encouraging and uplifting. All pastors should wrestle with these ideas and lead their churches into reforming concepts of diversity, authority, unity, and commitment. While not all of us will agree with how McCracken proposes change (e.g. styles of worship), his plea to infuse Christians with an ecclesial-shaped Christianity is utterly necessary for the church today, especially his highlighting of unity-in-diversity and authority as a gift.


Finally, among many benefits of this book, I appreciate how Uncomfortable seeks to connect theology with church. For far too long the church has settled for pragmatics and secular business models to advance her message. Uncomfortable is a helpful corrective in that it pushes us back to the Bible and shows how our theology should interact with our gatherings.

To that end, I’ll close with a great quote toward the end of Uncomfortable that encapsulates this helpful corrective:

If the church is going to thrive in the twenty-first century, she needs to be wiling to demand more
of her members. She needs to assert the importance of covenants over comfort, even if that is a message that will turn off some. She needs to speak prophetically against the perversions of cultural and consumer Christianity, seeker unfriendly as that will be. She needs to call Christians away from an individualistic, “just me and Jesus” faith, challenging them to embrace the costliness of the cross
and the challenge of life in a covenantal community. (183)



“The Discouragement of God’s Work” Text: Haggai 2:1-9
Pastor Jeff Schrage

BABY SHOWER scheduled for tomorrow for Arden and baby boy Davis has been postponed. A new date will be announced.

MEN’S PRAYER BREAKFAST scheduled for tomorrow has also been cancelled.

SUNDAY SCHOOL – For all ages! Adult classes: “In Touch” This class is led by Elder Jim Roszell & today’s class will be led by Brian Todd. Our second is a video class from the Ligonier 2017 National Conference “The Next 500 Years” - the class focuses on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and the challenge before the church to live faithfully to the Word of God in the world. Pastor Bob Clark serves as a facilitator for this class.

LADIES WEDNESDAY EXODUS STUDY – Mindy Deckard will facilitate a Bible study on Exodus by Jen Wilkin Wednesdays at 12 noon at the Harrington's home (12 Parkway Lane). Bring a lunch and will eat while we study the scripture. Please RSVP to Kari Harrington (977-3660) if you plan to attend and a workbook will be printed for you. Thank you!

THURSDAY NIGHT LADIES STUDY This group will meet every other Thursday evening from 6:30- 7:30 pm at the church office. The study is a DVD by Sproul entitled "Dust to Glory." See Maureen Bradley for more information.

MEETING WITH MAYOR SNOW – On Wednesday, Oct 18, at 7pm, First Christian Church of Richmond is sponsoring an evening with Mayor Dave Snow regarding the Opioid Addiction Issue in our city and area. A Q & A will follow. Light refreshments will be serves following the presentation.

JEFF’S ORDINATION SERVICE will be on Friday, October 27th at 7:00PM. Everyone is Welcome! The service will likely be about 45 minutes. There will be a reception in the lobby following the service. Come and meet Jeff’s friends and the pastor’s that have mentored and supported Jeff through this journey to ordination. It is a celebration of the completion of a journey that began in August 2001! (Note: this is a time change)

ANNUAL LADIES ADVENT TEA – will be held Wednesday evening December 6th More details coming soon.

SIERRA LEONE MISSION TRIP – The Sierra Leone mission trip 2018 is scheduled for February 15 thru 26. If interested in going please see Jim Roszell.

CPC Song of the Month

"The Lord is My Salvation" by Keith and Kristyn Getty

The grace of God has reached for me And pulled me from the raging sea And I am safe on this solid ground The Lord is my salvation

I will not fear when darkness falls
His strength will help me scale these walls I'll see the dawn of the rising sun
The Lord is my salvation

Who is like the Lord our God

Strong to save faithful in love My debt is paid and the victory won The Lord is my salvation

My hope is hidden in the Lord
He flow'rs each promise of His Word When winter fades I know spring will come The Lord is my salvation

In times of waiting times of need When I know loss when I am weak
I know His grace will renew these days The Lord is my salvation


And when I reach my final day He will not leave me in the grave But I will rise He will call me home The Lord is my salvation


Glory be to God the Father Glory be to God the Son Glory be to God the Spirit The Lord is our salvation


The Lord is our salvation The Lord is our salvation

If you would like to listen and follow along the lyrics of our song that we will be learning in October, just click on the link below. The video includes the lyrics. It's a wonderful song for your personal time and for our corporate worship together. Let's learn it together!

Here's the link:


! THE CHURCH IN THE WORLD ! Disaster Response Volunteers Needed Now in Texas and Florida2

2017 is proving to be one of the busiest hurricane seasons on record. We are only midway through the season and already the needs presented by the most recent hurricane events are tremendous.

MNA Disaster Response has been working with local PCA leadership to set up Volunteer Staging Sites in both TX and FL. Currently, we have two sites in Houston TX in response to Hurricane Harvey. We now also have three sites set up in FL – in Jacksonville, Naples, and Marco Island, and anticipate having a second site in Naples ready to go shortly – all in response to Hurricane Irma. Each site has a limited number of lodging spaces available and are assigned on a ‘first come, first serve’ basis by the MNA Disaster Response Facilitator.

To serve at any of our Volunteer Staging Sites:
Register as a Disaster Response Volunteer – all volunteers must register individually even if serving on a

Decide when and where you want to serve:

Dates requested to serve

Location (which site) Get scheduled:

Teams – will be scheduled by the Team Leader; Team Leader must email slanier@pcanet.org with location, dates requested to serve and number on team.

Individuals – those serving individually (not on a team) must email slanier@pcanet.org with dates requested to serve.

MNA Disaster Response Facilitator (Sherry Lanier – slanier@pcanet.org) will confirm dates to serve based on space availability and schedule team or individual for serving.

(NOTE: Please see ‘MNA Disaster Response Volunteer FAQ’ for more information.) To donate to the Hurricane Irma fund click here.
To register as a Hurricane Irma volunteer
click here.
To donate to the Hurricane Harvey fund
click here.

To register as a Hurricane Harvey volunteer click here. Flood Bucket and Hygiene Kit Information.
Update on Hurricane Maria – PUERTO RICO
MNA Disaster Response Home Page


Inspire – The Next INSPIRE meeting will be on November 9th from 6:45pm -8:45pm in the CPC foyer (350 Henley Rd. Richmond, IN) Dessert & 2 speakers: 1 sharing a Practical focus & 1 sharing part of "Her Story" a testimony of God's faithfulness in her life. Fellowship, Connect, Discuss, Pray.

Annual Ladies Advent Tea will be held Wednesday evening December 6th! Ladies, mark your calendars! More details coming soon.


1 Sharon Foust

  1. 4  Melissa Owens
  2. 5  Bill Stackhouse
  1. 8  Barbara Koditek
  2. 9  Shannon Schrage
  1. 11  Richard Anderson
  2. 12  Karissa Owens
  1. 16  Jim McKinney
  2. 17  Sam Steinfort
  3. 18  Josiah Moore
  4. 19  Marilyn Geiling
  1. 21  Jonathan Golden
  2. 22  Luke Miller

24 Darrell Watt
27 Debbie Higgs
29 Diana Kehlenbrink 31 Jane Arnold

16 Quentin & Ruth Williamson 14 Dan & Lori Staifer
24 Mike & Susan Cougill

 Christ Presbyterian Church  -  (765).966.4017  -  350 Henley Rd. Richmond, IN 47374  -  Office@KnowingChrist.net