A blog post by Megan Clapp
Have you heard “Brave” by Sara Bareilles? I’ve been listening to it on repeat all summer. If you haven’t heard it yet, check out the lyrics video below before you keep reading:
Also on my summer agenda has been reading, processing, and living with Brene Brown’s incredible book, Daring Greatly. She writes about vulnerability and how it can transform the way we live, love, parent and lead. She also writes about shame and how shame can deter us from being vulnerable. We all live and lead with some level of shame.
Brown writes, “Shame is the fear of disconnection — it’s the fear that something we’ve done or failed to do, an ideal that we’ve not lived up to, or a goal that we’ve not accomplished makes us unworthy of connection.”
Shame often leads us to disengage from our work, our relationships, and our communities. Brown identifies disengagement as the issue that underlies many of the problems in our culture, including religion and church.
“First, disengagement is often the result of leaders not living by the same values they’re preaching. Second, in an uncertain world, we often feel desperate for absolutes. It’s the human response to fear. When religious leaders leverage our fear and need for more certainty by extracting vulnerability from spirituality and turning faith into “compliance and consequences,” rather than teaching and modeling how to wrestle with the unknown and how to embrace mystery, the entire concept of faith is bankrupt on its own terms…Spiritual connection and engagement is not built on compliance, it’s the product of love, belonging and vulnerability.” (emphasis mine)
Can you imagine what a ministry would look like built on this idea? It sounds a lot like gospel and a lot like the kind of community Jesus was teaching about. Of course, this kind of community and ministry takes a lot of hard work, building relationships, creating safe spaces to be vulnerable, and practicing what we preach and teach, but if the result is a community where kids, families, and teenagers are spiritually engaged, how can we not want to do that work together?
In a world that operates out of fear, shame, and disengagement, we have the opportunity to be different. Because we belong to Christ, because Christ is alive in us, we can reach out in vulnerability, build meaningful and engaged relationships, and wrestle together with the mysteries of faith.
This is where the Sara Bareilles song comes in. It’s about having hard conversations, naming and talking about shame, being vulnerable, saying what needs to be said — not to hurt another but to claim the story we’re living. And the only way we can build a community that values this kind of conversation is to practice it ourselves. My favorite line in the song is, “show me how big your brave is.”
We are empowered through Christ to be vulnerable. We have been adopted into God’s family by baptism, and we have a place to belong. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Let’s live and lead like we mean it. I want to see you be brave.
Watch, listen, and read more about Daring Greatly here.
Megan Koepnick Clapp is a pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Andover, Iowa. She is passionate about helping God’s people grow in faith that is connected to every part of life, not just the Sunday morning routine. Megan is married to a pastor, and they are constantly dreaming and scheming together about the future of ministry and the church. Megan is a graduate of Luther Seminary, and along with her M.Div, received a degree in Children, Youth, and Family ministry.
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