Mike, De’Amon, and Miguel

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. This month, we are curating a series that showcases the brilliant leaders speaking and preaching at our 2020 National Gathering in March. Each of these people have been carefully chosen by a dedicated team of people who have championed these leaders and the gifts they bring to NEXT Church. So learn why we’re so excited, and then let your own excitement compel you to register and join us! If you’re already planning to go, we invite you to join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter, and tell us what you’re most excited about for this year’s gathering.

by Jan Edmiston

How comfortable are you feeling right now?  Most of us like to feel comfortable.

And yet I increasingly believe that we learn life’s most important lessons when we are uncomfortable.  And I’m not talking about mattresses and shoes.

I’m talking about embracing uncomfortable situations and having uncomfortable conversations.  This is how we stretch and grow and move forward.  Or we can seek comfort and stay where we are.

The National Gathering of NEXT Church is perennially inspiring, fun, and motivating.  Yes, there have been speakers who jolt us and spark new ideas.  The 2020 National Gathering – in particular – promises to make us uncomfortable.

Image is one Jan uses when talking with congregations about being uncomfortable in church. How would you feel sitting beside this guy next Sunday? And what could we learn from him? And what could we learn about ourselves?


Keynoters Mike Mather, De’Amon Harges, and Miguel de la Torre will make us decidedly uncomfortable in Cincinnati March 2-4, 2020.  And this is very good.

One of the questions Brene Brown asks in her book Daring Greatly when trying to figure out an institution’s culture is this one:

What’s the collective tolerance for discomfort?  Is the discomfort of learning, trying new things, and giving and receiving feedback normalized, or is there a high premium put on comfort (and how does that look)?

Let’s say you are sitting in a church pew on Sunday morning and a guy comes in wearing a torn t-shirt and he smells bad.  And he sits beside you.  Or there’s a woman you’ve never seen before who sobs throughout the whole worship service.  Do you approach her?  Or there’s a young man clearly dealing with some sort of brain injury who is sitting behind you in worship and he keeps touching your hair.  All these things make us uncomfortable.  All these things are opportunities to love someone.

Spiritual growth is essential for humans and we have a lot of growing to do if we are going to follow Jesus in a tumultuous world.  And it’s going to be uncomfortable, but also holy and worth it.

I hope you consider welcoming some uncomfortable conversations with Mike, De’Amon, and Miguel in March.  Register for NEXT Church here.  It will be holy and worth it.

(This blog post was originally published to Jan Edmiston’s blog, A Church for Starving Artists)

Jan Edmiston is General Presbyter of The Presbytery of Charlotte. She serve in two congregations in New York and Virginia as a solo and co-pastor, and was Associate Executive Presbyter in Chicago for seven years. Jan was also Co-Moderator of the 222nd General Assembly with Denise Anderson.