Leveraging Appreciative Inquiry for Lasting Transformation
Leaders of faith communities face challenging times and circumstances. Sometimes through vision and foresight ... sometimes due to the pressure of changes enfolding around them. These leaders must make fundamental and significant changes in the ways of the congregation.
Often the challenges of change can be overwhelming: resistance builds, confusion and misinformation swirls about, and the first steps into the unknown are tentative, not bold. Language helps create the environment for positive change or the solidifying of negativity. Scarcity rises up: "not enough money", "not enough time", and "not enough people". Barriers form standing in the way of progress: "those people are different", "we don't do it that way," and "we don't know how."
The language of scripture is one of God's Abundance in the face of a world of scarcity... where we are never enough ...or have enough of anything. In God we are enough and we have blessings in abundance. God is a God of possibilities in the face of challenges when you trust in Him. Yet the world throws up barriers to what God has placed on our heart.
The language of abundance and possibilities forms the foundation to look at our faith community from strength not weakness using a proven model of change: the Appreciative Inquiry (AI) Model. This model forms the shape of our collective conversation and change model.
The practice of using AI to celebrate the blessings and resources that the faith community has been given by God which is what gives life. Leveraging these strengths by asking questions like "what do you want more of" leads to a reflection of "what might be?" During this stage of the change process, the congregation is invited to envision "what it might be like in the future" if the congregation changes some of their practices and goes where God is leading them. Throughout the process it has been bathed with prayer and scriptural reflection.
Asking the question "how do we make this real?" moves the congregation into a season of co-creation where "what should be" is developed and planned. These steps and plans are then placed into motion through empowering and resourcing the plans. This results in sustaining the momentum of the change process.
Appreciative inquiry coaching offers a model for change that builds an environment for change that is about abundance, not scarcity... possibilities, not barriers.