Last night, we gathered for a time of conversation, confession, and prayer. More to come on that, but here’s a quote that we opened our time with.
Comfort zone is the place that a church falls into once they have learned how to survive. This point normally comes between 2 and 5 years into a church plant, depending upon its size and giving. With between 60 and 80% of churches in America either plateaud or declining in membership and/or attendance, this is also the state of most American churches. In the comfort zone phase, there is no longer an immediate, visible crisis, the bills are paid, most of the big jobs are being done by someone, leaders are officially in place such as elders or deacons, and the people have generally grown to know and love one another in the church.
At this point the propensity is for the church to settle in, accept their size and slip into a mode of maintenance. If they keep doing what they are doing they know that they will stay at about the same place where they are – which is fine with many of the people of the church. At some point people will move away, others will get bored, and the church will begin a cycle of decline.
Maturity is the place at which the senior leaders call the church forward on God’s mission, which leads to conversion growth – not just having a nice church for everyone already there to enjoy. A mature church envisions its future and what challenges and dreams God has called it to pursue. As a church reaches maturity they in some ways return to a re-launching phase, where the organize themselves for growth, but do so in a very thoughtful and wise way, seeking to maximize all resources to achieve their goals. A mature church has all the zeal of an infant church, but over time has learned to conduct themselves with the kind of wisdom that makes the church most effective.”
Mark Driscoll, Confessions of a Reformission Rev.