The contribution of Appreciative Inquiry on the attitudes of church members towards a change in strategic focus

Written by webmeester on . Posted in Communitas Resources

The research had been done as a qualitative study using Thematic Analysis. Semi-structured interviews were used to obtain the data.

The study findings had indicated that the Appreciative Inquiry model has the potential to elevate the change conversation to a higher level where resistance and cautiousness no longer have the final say in determining members’ reactions to the change in strategic focus. The change conversation began to focus on themes such as purpose, opportunities and continuity. Interviewees had experienced that discovery of the Positive Core of the congregation had indeed helped them to embrace the proposed changes rather than resist it.

To conclude the research project, the following recommendations have been made:

  • There is a definite need for congregations to ensure that members know the Positive Core of their congregation. Members have to share their positive experiences of the past so as to inspire a next generation.
  • Leaders of congregations have to focus on this Positive Core. They have to be aware of the achievements of the congregation. They need to be focused on organisational wisdom. Leaders have to ensure that the collective spirit, the vital traditions and alliances and partnerships are conserved and used in a new era. It will be these elements of the Positive Core that will ensure that a congregation remains relevant.
  • Leaders of congregations have to ensure that the change conversation is conducted on the ‘higher level’ where purpose, opportunities and the role of the church are discussed. Change in congregations is too often discussed on the level of personal preferences.
  • The leadership of a congregation would do well to have regular focus groups that discuss this Positive Core of the congregation. In this way they will ensure that the congregation remains ready for change because of the sense of purpose and a commitment to the values and beliefs of the congregation.


Hirsch (2006:53) has been quoted earlier in the study as saying that the track record of congregations in terms of change is rather poor. The researcher contends that this research study has shown that the Appreciative Inquiry model of change management has the potential to put this record straight.

It is up to leaders facilitating change interventions to do just this.

Francois Retief



Written by Pierre Goosen on . Posted in Communitas Resources


 A while ago my computer started playing up. It froze on certain programmes and despite my best efforts, it refused to open and allow me access. What a frustration! It almost felt as if I was dealing with a stubborn child who, without good reason, had withdrawn, shut himself off and become totally unresponsive.

 Being no more than semi-computer literate, I followed the regular pattern of my generation: I called in my son – who was not particularly patient with his dad. After running through all the standard procedures to get the computer started he eventually also gave up. His final verdict was: “Your computer is full of junk, dad. It has seized. It is overloaded. You need to organise and manage your programmes better”.

 Next step was off to the dealer who confirmed the problem. In fact, according to him my hard drive had given in and I was in danger of losing all my vital information. What a shock, what anxiety at the prospect of losing years’ worth of precious work: sermons, talks, letters, courses, poems, prayers and promises … the whole anthology of creative effort that I had collected, produced, stored quite diligently over many years – all gone in a moment!

 I was obliged to consider my son’s opinion on the state of my hard drive. And, drawing comparisons in my usual way, it had to cross my mind that there is a parallel between the human mind, our own psyche in fact, and these modern information systems. Even if not in the same mechanical way, our mental awareness is vulnerable to becoming disorganised, cluttered and overloaded, sometimes to a point where it can also freeze, pack up, call it a day. With increasing demands and pressures, the exhausting claims and responsibilities of modern society, it is no surprise that many suffer from burnout, depression and anxiety.

 As with my computer, banal as the comparison may be, many people today reach a point where everything has just become too much – and so they start to seize, becoming passive and negative. Eventually they lose their energy and perspective, they give up on life, shut down. This often starts with feelings of exhaustion and anxiety, a marked sense of irritation. These are the vital signs, the warning lights that our system has become overloaded, that it is in danger of giving in and shutting down.

 It is not always easy to regain your calm and restore a healthy perspective once you have become trapped in this deadly cycle of ongoing work and pressure. One needs to stop and take stock; remember what is of real value, focus on those things that we know are reliable. Being concerned, distracted by many things is not a new or modern problem. In Matt 6:33-34, Jesus urges his followers to turn their attention to the one thing that really matters and will make a difference – “Set your mind on God’s kingdom and his justice before anything else, and all the rest will come to you as well. So do not be anxious about tomorrow, tomorrow will look after itself”.

 Is this not also what Martha, overstressed by so many duties and obligations, had to learn.   

“Martha, Martha you are fretting and fussing about so many things; but one thing is necessary” (Lk 11:41).

 Carel Anthonissen

Centre for Spirituality





Planning and the Budget

Written by Frederick on . Posted in Communitas Resources

Die Alban Weekly het hierdie week ‘n interessante artikel van Dan Hotchkiss oor die begrotingsproses in gemeentes!

Congregations often plan and budget as though planning were one thing and budgeting another. Bringing the two together calls for a comprehensive calendar for goal-setting and evaluation.

A key event in the sequence is the annual planning retreat. Typically, this event includes the board and senior members of the staff, including lay staff as appropriate. Ideally, the group spends at least a day and a half off-site with a strict no-cell-phone rule. The agenda varies from year to year; the focus is always on discernment and strategy, the two zones of responsibility shared by board and staff. Some special attention to the mission is appropriate every year–but it is rarely a good use of time to tweak the wording of the mission statement that often. Once every five years is more than enough, unless something is terribly wrong with the existing statement.

A more necessary work product from the retreat and related activities is the annual vision of ministry, an answer to the question, “In what new and different ways will we transform lives in the next one to three years?” To put it differently, the vision of ministry is the board’s short list of priorities. Why a short list? Because when a list of priorities is long, they’re not priorities! The vision of ministry is a short list of things the board means to accomplish, no matter what. The fact that something does not make the list does not mean that it won’t happen. While creating the vision, the board will bank a number of ideas for the future: pieces of a long-term vision to which the board is not prepared to make an ironclad commitment now. There is no way to do this without sometimes saying no.

Om die voledige artikel te lees gaan na

Missional Pattern 8: Missional Authority

Written by Frederick on . Posted in Communitas Resources

Missional Pattern 8: Missional Authority

Leaders of missional congregations together practice the missional authority that carries the vision of missional vocation in the community and cultivates the practices that embed that vocation in the community.
Shared authority.  Missional congregations may have one or more pastors or ministers.  But at the core of the congregation is a small community of leaders, paid and/or unpaid, ordained and lay, who may have a diversity of functions, roles, and titles.  This authority is not to lord it over others. Instead, this authority is given by the Holy Spirit.  Congregational leaders serve under God, the ultimate authority.  In missional congregations, this core group of leaders is in the vanguard of thinking about and participating in God’s mission in the world.  Congregational leaders welcome contact and collegiality with leaders of other congregations that are seeking to be more missional.
Carriers of vision.  Leaders of missional congregations may help to discern and formulate the church’s missional vocation.  But effective and faithful leaders always carry that vision and help hold the congregation accountable to the vocation to which God has called the congregation.  Carrying the vision means keeping it before the congregation, reminding people of it, holding people accountable to what they said they would do, discerning whether what the congregation is doing now is consistent with its vocation.  It is said that most visions are under-communicated by a factor of 10!  Missional leaders are redundant in communicating the congregation’s missional vocation.  They know that vocation so well, they embody it.
Cultivators of missional practices.  Leaders of missional congregations intentionally cultivate the practices that embed its missional vocation in the life of the community.  These leaders understand that carrying out missional vocation is more than developing a strategic plan, good as that is.  Missional vocation is supported by practices (regular habits developed over time that demonstrate the way things are done in the reign of God).  Practices like hospitality or bearing one another’s burdens do not become second-nature in the church unless people are trained for them, reminded of them, and encouraged in them.  Missional leaders not only cultivate these practices in others, but they perform these practices themselves.  Leaders who preach a simple lifestyle that is friendly to the earth, practice a simple lifestyle.  Leaders who encourage hospitality, are hospitable.  The core leadership group practices right relationships in its dealings with each other, in the same way that it expects others in the congregation to practice right relationships.  Leaders pray for each other as they train the congregation in prayer.  Leaders forgive each other as they teach others to forgive.  Leaders are to live out the implications of being a missional church.