Reading this book recently turned out to be the right book at the right time for me. Having just worked through articulating and posting my current thoughts on fluid, empowering leadership (part 1, 2, 3, and 4), it was encouraging to have those ideas affirmed in this book.
The book is co-authored by Graham Cooke and Gary Goodell. Graham covers the topics of empowering leadership and understanding the processes of God in transition. Gary covers more specific ideas about being the church. He actually discusses many of the same thoughts that Michael Frost presents in Exiles, some in parallel and others from an opposite point of view.
If you read my recent post "How to Ruin a Church", you have an understanding of my background with unhealthy church leadership. Graham brought great clarity to my mind about exactly what was wrong with that system. In Section One of Permission Granted, he explains the difference between organizational structures and organic growth and between functional and empowering leadership. This entire section was packed with wisdom concerning leadership style. I'll just share a few nuggets with you:
"A box has been created that captures people instead of captivating them. We create rules of behavior to keep people in the confines of what we determine is decent and in order. The problem is that our sense of order comes out of a functional paradigm that is cemented in the need for leaders to possess, acquire, and control. This is love with a hook, love that uses people but does not fulfill them. The box becomes the coffin of their dreams and aspirations."
"Our goal is to facilitate the development of every believer in Christ. Corporate vision cannot be imposed from the top down. It has to grow from the ground up...Good leaders know how to facilitate people into their own personal vision and then see the release of that to complete the corporate picture and anointing. Everyone has a dream. Good leaders have the Father's touch to expedite the dreams of God through the hearts of His people."
"When we need rules and bylaws to keep people and control their behavior, we do not have an organization built on relationship that seeks to grow sons into fathers. Instead, we have created a system that can only contain and never fully release people. It mistrusts people who do not fit. It promotes people who toe the line. It produces establishment people for the purpose of maintaining the structure. The scaffolding has become more important than the building."
"The church is a living system of intelligent, adaptable, creative, self-organizing, and meaning-seeking people, who may feel confined by something that should be releasing and empowering them to be the best they can be. Everyone hates to be confined. It destroys the soul and kills any initiative and creative desire.
The growth of people is always more important than the structural shape of the church. We cannot sacrifice the individual for the system. Consequently, we must grow people before we put them into a structure. Then we must ensure that the structure is in tune with their identity, calling, and destiny; or it will break them. People must be broken in their relationship with God, not by a church system that cannot give them freedom."
In the next couple of posts, I plan to highlight some of Graham's thoughts on transition and some of Gary's ideas about church that were especially inspiring to me.