Permission to Speak Freely

I spent the majority of this past weekend soaking in Anne Jackson‘s latest (and by latest, I mean, it’s only a year old) book, Permission to Speak Freely. The premise is similar to PostSecret, but with a message of hope and grace where PostSecret tends to leave its readers dangling.

The basic premise of the verse began with a blog post, and a question: “What is the one thing you feel you can’t say in the church?” It’s a question that has shed light on on the hidden pain and brokenness of a lot of people. Just flip through the pages of the book. Read through Anne’s own story of heartbreak and brokenness.

After reading, and pondering, and praying, I’ve been challenged to wonder: what are the messages that we send to young people about authenticity in the church?

Is the church really a safe place for young people to talk about their deepest hurts and brokenness?

Do we model that as adults in the church?

What would it look like for the church, and youth ministry to be a place of raw authenticity?

Do we cheapen grace by avoiding the tough questions?

Do we inadvertently gloss over the tough stuff in life to make our jobs “easier”?

I’ve learned a lot this summer about brokenness, and about the messiness of life. I’ve had some of the toughest conversations with teens and young adults that I’ve ever had. I’ve been challenged to talk more about my own brokenness.

I have intentionally kept this post light on opinion and heavy on questions. That’s where I’m at right now with all of this.

Let’s have a conversation.

How can we as leaders in the church, and as leaders in youth ministry, give the people we work with the permission to speak freely?

3 thoughts on “Permission to Speak Freely

  1. Openness is truly difficult to achieve in communications. It exposes our vulnerabilities like few other things. Dwelling on the reasons for a persons deeply held fears isn’t always a positive thing. Often this “brokenness” you refer to is the result of a decision made between two competing forces and the guilt the choice made represents. Dwelling on that brokenness, past any educational value, has no value. Changing what’s happened isn’t possible except in the most infrequent circumstance. What will happen in the future – that’s do-able. Whether in church or any other place, help rises from hope for what is to be, not regrets for what has past.


    1. I agree that we shouldn’t necessarily dwell in our brokenness, but I also think that is exactly what happens when we remain silent and keep things to ourselves. Speaking freely about our brokenness gives us the opportunity to say to one another “me too. you are not alone.” I think too often in the church we communicate that you “have to have it all together” or that nothing is ever really broken in our lives. But people, especially teenagers, are longing for authenticity. They are longing to know that they are not alone, and that there is hope for the future.


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