First, congregations should give ready permission to those who have the energy for and interest in new initiatives. They ought to reduce the number of hurdles, the layers of organizational reporting and approval seeking, especially by persons who have no particular interest in volunteering themselves. Leadership, vision, planning, soliciting help, and participation must come from those who feel called and eager. Cultivating a permission-giving, rather than an approval-seeking, environment in a congregation has huge implications not just for the planning of missions but for beginning new Bible studies, support groups, and other ministries.
How is the congregation where you hang out a permission-giving rather than an approval-seeking environment? I'm running a poll to that effect - vote today!
We are trying here in Northtown to become more permission-giving, but not everybody agrees as to what exactly that means, especially when it comes to communication and accountability. I sometimes find myself speaking what seems almost like a completely different lanugage than some in the congregation. I want to convey the idea that a lot of what happens in our congregation may not be known by everyone, and that's okay. As long as what is happening is accountable to the mission of the congregation, it's all good. That's a hard thing to understand for some people.
When a small group of a half a dozen people wants to do some ministry project, and they put it together, organize it, implement it, and generally make it happen, we want to celebrate it and give God thanks for the energy and initiative this little team has taken on behalf of Christ. What we don't want to do is add so many layers of reporting and approval that it bogs the whole thing down and it loses effectiveness, fruitfulness, and impetus.
And it may require that I admit I don't know exactly what's going on, too! I have often heard myself answering inquiries with, "I don't know" when someone asks, "Hey, what are So-and-So doing with the This-and-That?"
"I don't know," I'll say, "But I know So-and-So, and I trust that whatever they're doing, it's going to be pretty cool!" The key, as with so many things, is the development of loving, grace-filled, trusting relationships among fellow disciples. Minus the development of those relationships, you really can't do much.
But when we are truly seeking a relationship grounded in the love and grace of Jesus Christ, when we live in that love and grow closer to one another and to God all the time, when we put aside our need to know and control what's going on and release ourselvews from that paralyzing tendency, God will truly amaze you at what might just happen.
So I'm interested - vote in my little poll and then leave a comment about your faith community. How is your spiritual home a "permission-givining" congregation?