Having read Anne’s first book, Mad Church Disease, several times, I was anxious to get the chance to read Permission to Speak Freely. I’ve followed Anne on her blog and on Twitter. She writes with a raw and uncensored emotion that makes it easy to relate. The premise of this book started as a question on her blog, which I remember when it was posted. The question was simple enough:
“What is one thing you feel you can’t say in the church.”
Mad Church Disease was written to address the burnout epidemic that is plaguing employed church staff and volunteers alike. Perhaps taking this to the next step, this book addresses the Christian “F” word. We often say we’re “Fine” but we really need to deal with some issues, don’t we. We put on a front when we’re actually among those who we should be able to be most open with. (Whew, does that sentence make sense?)
Anne takes us three places in this book:
- She defines and tries to make us realize that many churches are not places that we feel comfortable that we can speak freely.
- She breaks the problem down to one word. All the responses that she got from people begin with “brokenness.” We’re broken and we want to hide. The irony is that we often say that the church is a place for broken people to feel safe. The problem is, we’ve made the church a place that no one feels comfortable speaking freely.
- Anne explains the gift of going second. She get’s raw and honest. She explains some of her struggles with church and the past that she has dealt with and continues to deal with.
It is one of those “DUH” moments that many churches totally don’t get. If we share life together, there will be opportunities for intimacy and vulnerability. However, if a culture of openness isn’t there, everyone will close off. We need someone to go first so that others can go second. The first person to take that most difficult first step gives a gift to others. Confession of one… Saying “I’m broken” carries power and introduces trust to a situation.
Here’s the takeaway of the entire book. Go First! Anne doesn’t have an Ego. The title of the book isn’t one that is proud and boastful in saying that Anne has gone first and now she is giving us permission to go second. What the book does is remind us that we each have opportunities available to us for honest and authentic community. Trust and intimacy is something that can begin with us.
Book Review Bloggers
In the interest of full disclosure let me end by telling you that I am part of the Thomas Nelson Book Review Blogger’s program. I volunteered to read this book and publish a review on my blog. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”