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Growing in the Neutral Zone

Diane MartinDiane Martin, Gap Pastor

Last week, Jackie Thompson wrote in this column about the three phases of transition that a congregation goes through during a time of change, as described by Craig A. Satterlee in his book When God Speaks through Change: Preaching in Times of Congregational Transition. According to Satterlee’s description, this congregation is in the middle phase, the neutral zone. But this time feels anything but neutral to me!

Two things in particular inspire me to say this.

First, we are receiving six new members today! This is such a beautiful expression of confidence in the ongoing ministry of this congregation—both by the ones being received and by the ones receiving them. In many churches, the decision is made to postpone the reception of new members until the new pastor—or at least the interim pastor—arrives.  Likewise, many faithful visitors to a church decide to “wait and see” before they make the leap of faith into membership. But not so, here. This congregation is poised and ready to welcome Christina, Rebecca, Cynthia, Sarah, Julia and me (!!!) into its fold. And these women are ready to say, “Yes, Lord!” to the call to full participation in the life of the people of God who are Pikes Peak Metropolitan Community Church. Some of them are even being baptized today! Yippee!

The other thing that doesn’t feel neutral to me is the wide range of ministry that is continuing to happen here. If one goal of the neutral zone is, as Jackie wrote, “the congregation discovering God’s will for the next step,” I think we can check that one off the list. This congregation knows who it is, and is moving forward with enthusiasm and grace into the future God has planned for it. And while we’re on that topic …

If you are able, please stay next Sunday after worship and visit the displays at the Ministry Fair. God calls each of us to give of our time and talents toward the work of spreading the good news of God’s love in the world, and this happens in this church through ministry teams. Each ministry team will have a display set up in the social hall to let you know what their part is in the work of this congregation. Maybe God will tug at your heart as you stroll through the displays. Maybe God will say, “I would like you to try this one this year.” And maybe you, like the new members we are receiving today, will say, “Yes, Lord.”

Thank you for the many ways you reach out in love. It has been a tremendous privilege to work with such a warm congregation for these past several weeks, and I cherish my remaining three weeks with you. Please keep me in your prayers as I prepare to transition into the next phase of ministry to which God has called me.


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