We Are Committed to "Permission Giving" in All that We Do

Pastor's Monthly Newsletter Article for October, 2012

Part 4; of a 7-Month Series on the Core Commitments of Saint Peter Lutheran Church

In my fourteen years as Saint Peter’s Pastor, there have been a number of changes we’ve made in how we organize ourselves for ministry. One of the most difficult to understand — sometimes even more difficult to practice — is our commitment to be a permission giving congregation.

In some ways it is easier to say what permission giving is not. It is not having a small, influential group of people in charge of deciding what will be permitted and what will not. It is not having a series of hoops that someone must jump through before a new ministry initiative is approved. It is not doing ministry in a certain way, just because that’s the way we’ve always done it.

Instead, in a permission giving church congregational leaders (elected and informal leaders) exercise three primary responsibilities. They articulate the vision of the congregation in a clear and compelling manner. They encourage congregational members to discover how God has gifted them to carry out that mission. They provide support for those who do so (helping them shape their efforts, finding resources for them, providing training, supervision, and encouragement…). When this kind of leadership is in place, then participants discover that if they have a ministry idea which furthers the ministry of the church, they have “permission” to pursue that idea.

A permission-giving church is not one that promotes an “anything goes” attitude: the vision needs to be clear, allowing participants to measure their initiatives against the congregation’s vision. A permission giving church is not one that develops automatically: participants have to be eager to be involved, and faithful in putting their gifts to work. A permission-giving church is not one that always fits old, familiar patterns: we have to get used to things not always being done exactly the way we want (or expect) them to be done.

In a permission giving church there is a vitality that is rarely found in tightly structured and controlled congregations. Everyone is invited to study the congregation’s mission, and initiate ministries that promote it. Leaders help individuals shape their ministries to best fit the congregation’s mission.

We’ve been studying our mission and vision in this column for the past four months. You have permission to pursue the ideals of our congregation. What will you do about that? How can we help you?

God’s peace to you all, Pastor Dave

Themes for the coming months are: “Our Supporters Are Involved on a 'Gifts Based' Basis” (Nov.); “We Are Prayer-Centered” (Dec.); “Our Lives Revolve around Discipleship” (Jan.)