Showing Vulnerability from the Pulpit (The Distracted Worshipper #2)

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Part Two of Series: The Distracted Worshipper: A View from the Pews


A co-worker and I were holed up in a hotel room with 7 Asian pastors who live in a restricted-access country that is hostile to Christ and His Church. They’d arrive one-by-one in the morning and stay through until the evening. Then they’d leave one-by-one, a few minutes apart.

Together, we were looking at 1 & 2 Corinthians and noting the surprising vulnerability that Paul showed to this church that was challenging his authority and integrity.

“For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death.” (2 Cor. 1:8-9)

Not exactly a confidence-boosting message! But in fact, Paul repeatedly emphasizes in these letters his weaknesses and discouragements in the ministry.

I asked the pastors if they preach with vulnerability. “Never”. Why not? Two reasons…

  1. People would be discouraged in their faith if they learn that their pastor is having so many problems. They’ll think, “If he can’t live the Christian life, what hope do we have?”
  2. It’s not really appropriate to wash dirty laundry in public.

I told them about the two men that have shepherded me for the past 35 years. Both Bill Johnson and Pat Peglow have preached with great vulnerability. Their honest humility has been transformative. Instead of discouraging us, they gave us hope! “If God can use these very ordinary men, then there’s hope for us!”

Vulnerable preaching is powerful preaching.

We looked further at 2 Corinthians 12 in which Paul actually boasts of his weaknesses, “so the power of Christ may rest upon me…for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (v.9-10)

After a long discussion, I asked how they were processing this idea of vulnerability. After a long pause, their leader looked at the other men and simply said, “If God’s Word says it, then we need to do it.”

Some questions to consider…

  • How vulnerable is your preaching?
  • What’s the upside and the downside of vulnerable preaching?
  • What are some next steps that you might take?

Craig Parro

Since joining Leadership Resources International in 1989, Craig directed its international ministry, and as of January 2010, he now serves as President. A graduate of TEDS (M.A., Mission), Craig is a stimulating teacher and has equipped and encouraged pastors and churches throughout the U.S., Latin America and Asia. Craig also serves on the Board of Directors of TOPIC (Trainers of Pastors International Coalition), an association of pastoral training organizations focused on accelerating pastoral training worldwide. Craig has authored articles appearing in several magazines. His first book, Unlikely Warriors, was published in 1992. He is also co-author of Finishing Well in Life and Ministry: God’s Protection from Burnout.

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