The idea behind this post comes from Dan Pence. Dan leads adult discipleship at our church, he’s a 40+ year veteran of church leadership and he happens to be my father-in-law. I’m a fan.
Dan shared this concept at our most recent staff meeting and I thought it was a brilliant way to think through the nature of faith, fear and comfort zones. Here are Dan’s thoughts in my words:
We often talk about having a “comfort zone” and we’re often challenged to live beyond our comfort zone. But a “zone” by definition is not one spot, it is a region, so therefore a zone has a center and boundaries and you can actually travel some distance within a comfort “zone.”
Left unchallenged, most of us will set up residence smack in the middle of our comfort zone, far away from its boundaries. I defer you to exhibit A below:
The nature of comfort zones is that if you stay in the middle of them, your default position, the boundaries shrink and your comfort zone gets smaller and smaller. This, my friends, is Comfort Zone Shrinkage (C.Z.S.)
To avoid the dreaded C.Z.S, we must habitually leave our comfort zones beyond their boundaries, thus expanding them again.
It strikes me that we can be all too big fans of comfort zones in western Christianity. We like our comfort and familiarity, we like the illusion of control.
I find Dan’s theory of comfort zones to be very helpful as it relates to walking by faith, trusting God, stepping out of our zones. Could it be that our zones are far too small because we spend far too much time in the center of them?