A while back I was talking with a member about the new campus we are looking to build in Victoria, Texas. We were talking about what kind of seating our new church would have – whether pews, chairs or stadium seating.
“If we have pews,” he said, “just make sure they have cushions. Wooden pews aren’t very comfortable.”
“We don’t want them too comfortable,” I thought as visions of members snoozing during my sermon ran through my mind.
Are you comfortable in your church?
The stated goal of many churches is to make you as comfortable as possible by providing cushy seats, easy parking, friendly staff and greeters at every door. Some have cafés offering specialty coffee and treats you can take with you into the sanctuary. Everything you need to know and do is found on the large, conveniently located screens. They even take your kids to separate rooms during the service so you can relax and listen.
Your comfort is their goal.
The question is, does church exist to make you feel comfortable? If you look at Jesus’ ministry, his goal definitely wasn’t to make people feel comfortable. He would challenge their preconceived ideas. He would confront their sins. He would put people on the spot.
Jesus frequently had uncomfortable conversations with his enemies, with total strangers and even with his own disciples.
When making people feel comfortable in church becomes our primary goal, we are tempted to avoid those uncomfortable conversations – to not talk about sin, to not challenge people’s prejudices, to not mention the parts of the Bible which people today find offensive.
God’s purpose for his Church is not to make people feel comfortable. God’s purpose for his Church is that it preach the whole truth of his Word whether it makes people comfortable or not. God has called his Church to convict us of our sins and comfort us with his promises of forgiveness and heaven through faith in Jesus.
The Church does not exist to make you feel comfortable. To be clear, that does not mean it’s a sin to have comfy cushions in your church. Every Christian congregation should try to make visitors feel welcome and comfortable. I honestly hope you feel comfortable in your home church.
Just not too comfortable.
If you never feel the uncomfortable sting of the law in your church – if your preacher never makes you squirm uncomfortably in your seat – that’s a problem. Only by feeling the uncomfortable sting of the law are we able to appreciate the comforting salve of the gospel.
The purpose of church is not to make you feel comfortable, but to confront you with your sins and comfort you with God’s promises.
That’s an important distinction we all need to remember.