By Paxson Jeancake
BEING VULNERABLE AND BUILDING TRUST
Telling aspects of my own, personal story in worship is part of what keeps things real for me, and hopefully, for my congregation as well. While I don't think that leaders should work out their issues with their congregation as a form of therapy, I do think that everyone with the privilege of regularly leading some aspect of corporate worship should consider how vulnerable and transparent he or she is being from week to week.
When our congregation hears us describing our failures as well as our victories, I truly believe we are building genuine trust with our people. We shouldn't come across as ministry professionals who have everything all together. We should convey, humbly and wisely, some of the ways we wrestle with things like fear, shame, pride, and self-centeredness. We, too, are in a progressive journey of sanctification.
Usually, for me, I try to refrain from sharing something personal and transparent every week; however, I do seek to regularly share from my heart about something real in my everyday life. This may come as I transition from the sermon into the closing song; it may be a brief word before leading into a prayer of confession or renewal; or it may be as I'm responding to a song we just sang or a creed we just affirmed together. There is no particular formula, but I do try to listen to and follow the Spirit's leading as well as my own intuition.
CONNECTING WORSHIP WITH EVERYDAY LIFE
Part of the power and purpose of being vulnerable is to keep worship from becoming disconnected from everyday life. Hopefully, people find themselves saying "Me too!" as I share. In addition, sharing from our personal lives is a way of reminding our people that God is living and active. He is doing things in my life that reveal to me, on a daily basis, how desperate I am for his guidance and protection; how grateful I am for his sustaining power, advocacy, and intercession; how amazed I am at his beauty in the regular cycles of his creation; and how in awe I am of his grace, love, mercy and intimate presence in my life.
I am so grateful for the decision I made twenty years ago to serve as a worship leader in the local church. Though she is flawed, she is the hope of the world. I count it a privilege to plan and lead worship each week - to tell God's Story, to celebrate Our Story, and to share a bit of My Story with the body of Christ.