On Comfort Zones
Christians sometimes speak “Christianese.” Christianese is Christian jargon. There are lots of examples of Christianese. One of my favorites is, “Heart of hearts.” Christians sometimes say, “I know in my heart of hearts.” (I’ve always thought “heart” worked just fine but whatever!) Another example of Christianese is “comfort zone.” You hear this phrase a lot in evangelical churches, specifically with reference to personal evangelism.
The Lord has laid this idea of a comfort zone on my mind recently. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I shared a brief devotional thought with the elders and staff this past week. I’d like to share that thought with you.
For all Christians, there are contexts in which we feel more or less comfortable ministering in. The context where I feel most comfortable is my home. God, sin, Scripture, and salvation are regular topics of conversation with my wife and children. My home is a “comfort zone.” Ministering in this context is natural, easy, thoughtless. Now there are other contexts that are difficult to minister in—specifically, ministering when I know people do not want to talk about God. I was at a wedding once, surrounded by non-Christians. I spoke with one person about God. He didn’t want to hear it. He said something like, “Why are you talking about this here!?” After that, I was silent. The hostility made me feel uncomfortable. We all have these comfort zones. I imagine yours are different than mine, but we all have them.
While it is natural to have comfort zones, they impede our effectiveness in ministry. To be effective for God, we must minister in contexts where we feel uncomfortable. If, on the one hand, all you do is minister in context where you are comfortable, you will do very little for God in this world. If, on the other hand, you consistently step out of your comfort zone in ministry, God will use you greatly. Your effectiveness in ministry is integrally related to your ability to forsake your comfort zone.
So, dear Christian, what is God calling you to do that you have, up until this point, refused to do because you feel uncomfortable doing it? God is teaching me that I must forsake my comfort. I need to get over it and abandon it. You do, too. We all need to become comfortable being uncomfortable in gospel ministry.