One of the most amazing things about Christmas, the thing that seems to posture me toward wonder every single year, is that Jesus left the glory of heaven and the certainly of the celestial, to walk in the dust of Palestine and submit himself to the whims of the humans He created.
Theologians call that the Incarnation.
Long before Here I Am to Worship came along, one of Jesus' best friends described Him this way: "The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood." (John 1:14, The Message)
Perhaps this is the moment you expect me to talk about how the One who left perfection for crucifixion is worthy of our worship. And He is, without a doubt!
Actually, this is where I want to encourage those of us in ministry--volunteer, part-time or full time--to be like Jesus.
Move into the neighborhood.
In some ways that's a very practical thing. For example, if you're just starting your full-time ministry with a church, live where the people live. In my neighborhood there are 6 other church families. I don't have to drive to our community every day, I live in it.
In other ways it's more strategic. When I started at Woodburn, my Pastor gave me a brilliant directive: take the first six months and do everything you can to learn the people. "Become a sociologist," he said. And after those first months are over, keep doing it.
And as fantastic as that counsel was, I've learned from him how to go one step further.
Don't just learn who you are leading in worship, be one of them. Don't just understand the neighborhood, move into the neighborhood.
Instead of just living among them, do life with them.
Don't just sing stories about Jesus to them, sing the story of Jesus into their story. Over their story. When you're leading a song of hope, look into the eyes of the folks who need hope.
Quickly, here are 3 ways you can get started:
1) Before and after you get on the stage, visit with people in the seats. Connect with them. It's more important to be part of the congregation than part of the team on stage.
2) Find ways to be with people outside of the church building. Be intentional.
3) Learn and speak the language of your church. Don't talk like an outsider; become an insider.
Bottom line: Be real; be normal. Jesus came to be one of us, so learn to be one of them.