Sunday, August 14, 2011

Memories, Hopes, and Conversations - Review

Whatever image enters into a church's corporate imagination, that picture will have shaping power concerning structures, goals, schedules, finances, and practices (38).
Appreciative inquiry is built on theories that move a congregation away from deficit-based models toward the images and forces that are most life giving (39).

Memories, Hopes, and Conversations explains how to apply the process of Appreciative Inquiry to church life.  Embedded in the change process of a Japanese-American church, Mark Lau Branson uses this extended case study to walk us through the process of helping a church imagine a new future by taking an appreciative look at their past.
One of the common problems of organizational life is that we focus our attention on the negative.  As we engage in "problem-solving," we inadvertently focus our attention on the weakest and most draining parts of our systems.  This negative focus pulls us into its own vortex of negativity and often prevents any real solutions or growth from emerging.
On the other hand, Appreciative Inquiry, which has been used with great success by businesses and NGOs, uses intentional questions and interviews to focus our attention on our greatest strengths and assets.  We ask questions about the best parts of our past, our most enriching experiences then and now.  Then, we also ask questions about our desires and hopes for the future.  After we collect all the information from a broad-based interview process, we begin imagining together how we could grow into our strengths and expand them to enrich our church more fully.
Built on the basic philosophy of gratitude, Appreciate Inquiry is both hopeful and realistic.  This approach acknowledges that how we frame our questions and discussions impacts our energy and our outcomes.
 After struggling many times to address our churches blessings and challenges with multiculturalism, we are starting to try an appreciative inquiry approach.  I'm asking our leaders to interview people with basic questions about their positive experiences with multiculturalism.  My hope is that this will point us in the direction of the things we do best and how to do more of them.
This is a good book, a needed book.  However, there was something lacking which I can't quite identify.  The Josh rating: JJJJ.
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