“What do you need permission to do to make real the love and mercy of God and Christ?” Last Epiphany, Bishop Jeff Lee asked that question at The Great Awakening in Chicago:
Below you’ll find a sampling of what people at the event wrote on their permission slips. As we promised, today these Epiphany slips and many others like them go in the mail back to their authors. It’s our way of extending The Great Awakening into the Easter season and asking how it’s going. How has giving yourself permission transformed your ministry?
Each week during the Easter season, leaders from The Great Awakening and Seabury will blog about how we give ourselves permission to renew the church for the 21st century. Check back for posts from Bishop Lee, Diana Butler Bass, Brian McLaren, Roger Ferlo, Tripp Hudgins and others.
How have you been lighting fires and issuing permission slips? Leave a comment to share your thoughts. Or, if you weren’t able to join us at The Great Awakening, join the conversation by writing your own permission slip in the comments.
Permission Slips from The Great Awakening: A Sampling
Permission to say where the church is failing: Boring and numbing me and my adult children.
Permission to think I can lead in the emerging church
Permission to value my lay contributions
Permission to experiment and invent
Permission to value being a Christian
To be fearless in stepping into the unknown.
To quit using “church growth models as a crutch.
To encourage and discern what growth means [for my congregation]
To believe that God loves me. PERIOD. To act on that belief.
Permission to focus 80% of my life as a priest on innovative, life-giving ways to share the Gospel – not ways to hold the “status quo.” More time as an evangelist and less time as a branch manager for Jesus.
Permission to rejoice in my “work of the church” and not feel guilty for insufficient “church work.”
To be courageous enough to witness to my experience of the epiphanies of God I experience each day, and to invite others to share their stories, so “WAY” becomes known.
Permission to ask questions that trouble settled parishioners.
You may bring your hopes, fears, creativity and sorrow to church – even if it doesn’t fit in the box.
Ask the questions about what people are interested in, hoping for, experiencing, caring about, etc….and asking those questions of the people I meet outside the church.
I need permission to have hope that the things we do to follow Christ will matter in the world.
To spend less time on the expected and administrative things that serve the institution and to insist that I take the quality time to figure out how to serve God’s world and God’s people in my church by creating experiences, connections, new roads and energy so that we may thrive.
Be less formal, fling open the door, invite everyone in – while honoring those who are already here and who cherish what we already are.
To do the work of God, not the church’s work.
I need permission to not be afraid, to not “live small,” to be more expansive, to be more engaged – to AWAKEN!!
To reach out to “seekers” – bravely and unashamedly.
To help my parish understand that innovative worship is not an abandonment of tradition.
To engage in conversation and dialogue in my home parish about political issues that affect the well-being of all in our nations and how we as Christians can make a positive difference in dismantling poverty, injustice and the inequalities of opportunity in this country for so many of our children and families.
I need permission to be distracted from worldly things (job, bills, stuff) to focus on heavenly things (the overwhelming love of God).
To create a vibrant Saturday worship that is creative and not locked into the total structure we always have.
To be motivated by hope and not by fear
To be a person of love and forgiveness and not hurt and anger.
Truly engage our neighbors and community – not just the people who come in the door asking for a church, but all of our neighbors with stated and unstated spiritual needs/questions/longing.
Let go of the fear of doing something wrong and embrace the longing to make church about transcendent experience knowing there will be moments of spectacular failure.
To stop being influenced by the proclaimers of scarcity.
Remember this: Forget your perfect offering. There’s a crack in everything. That is how the light gets in.
I need permission to do the work of the church without getting hung up on “church work.”
Permission to be not “nice.” But fierce and focused.
To honestly confront my failings. To see them as cracks to let the light through. To ask what I want to see happen in my life and the life of my congregation. To work for what I ask for with my whole being.
Stop feeling any need to use religious code words to describe experience and make my language totally accessible to anyone.
I want permission to try radically new ways of “doing” and “being” (the) Church whether or not they succeed. I want to be allowed the grace to “fail.”
You have permission not to be afraid of failure.
You are permitted, and strongly encouraged, to destroy the pretty box and neatly tied bow you have placed God, Religion, and Spirituality in.