There are reasons why pastors prefer funerals to weddings.

There are reasons why congregations that attract broken people can be more faithful than congregations that attract “young families.”  (In 2015 I wrote this.)

There are reasons why I’d prefer to serve a church that needs Jesus than serve a church that considers itself “successful and prosperous.”

It’s all about vulnerability.  When we are grieving, when we are broken, when we feel unsuccessful and insecure, God does God’s best work. 

But when was the last time we asked God to make us vulnerable so that our faith might grow? That’s a terrifying prayer request.

There was a time when I felt wholly alone in my ministry except for God and a handful of people.  I had been told that I was untrustworthy, manipulative, and disgusting.  I was told that everything would be better if I just went away.  There was a narrative about my leadership that people who didn’t know me believed and people who did know me didn’t refute.

gas·light ˈɡaslīt/
verb gerund or present participle: gaslighting
  1. manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.

It was not a good time.  And it made me trust God to save me.

We need Jesus most when we are vulnerable.  And the Church is at its best when we make it safe to be vulnerable – as opposed to perpetuating a culture of “I’m looking great on the outside but actually my life is a hot mess.”

Thriving congregations nurture authentic community based on the fact that each of us is broken in some way.  I certainly am.

I’m not saying that we all need to stand up and tell the world every flaw/heartbreak/weakness/sin/trauma that we carry today – although maybe this works for some people.

I’m saying that we all need at least one person – and possibly a community of people – with whom we can share our hot mess reality.  I’m saying that we all need a Savior who is not our parent, mentor, spouse, or BFF.  And we don’t really know the depth of our need until we experience those desperately vulnerable times.

Being vulnerable is not merely a Brene Brown aspiration.  It’s the reality of being a spiritual human.  And it’s the only way to meet or re-meet God.


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