How can local churches, congregations and communities use their strengths to best effect and drive forward transformation?
That is the question at the heart of a new book and website Appreciating Church, one of our latest Appreciating People projects. Launching in both London (Thursday, 9 February) and Liverpool (Monday, 20 February), the resources draw together, for the first time, the ways in which a range of denominations are using the process of Appreciative Inquiry to draw on the strengths and energies of local congregations and communities as the driver for transformation.
Appreciative Inquiry (AI) begins by asking questions about the strengths and positive experiences that a community already has, and builds from there. Appreciating Church is a user-friendly, accessible and practical resource with theological underpinning and pointers for worship, integrated with AI theory and practice. It includes case studies from UK churches which have used AI, including the United Reformed Church, Methodist Church, Quakers, Congregational Federation and the Liverpool Diocese of the Church of England. An accompanying website for Appreciating Church offers supplementary exercises and content.
Who is the book for?
Intended as a resource for existing and aspiring AI practitioners within churches and the communities connected with them, the book will be applicable throughout the UK and of interest to churches and church-based organisations in other English speaking countries. The practical examples in the book include community organising by a Pentecostal church in Manchester and our work with St Bride’s, creating an Open Table network of LBGTQI Christians in Liverpool.
The book is supported by a new website, too. www.appreciating.church also launches on February 9.
Appreciating Church is an example of the work Appreciating People does in adapting AI to different sector groups. We’ve also applied its methodologies across the health service, to schools and education, and are in the process of starting a new project with a national museum.
Where has it come from?
Appreciating Church has been produced by a group of AI practitioners drawn from ecumenical partners, advised and supported by Appreciating People. AP co-founder Tim Slack is the son of the Revd Kenneth Slack, an early leader within the United Reformed Church.
In a foreword to the book, Professor Lindsey Godwin, Director of the Cooperrider Centre for Appreciative Inquiry in Vermont, said: ‘Given the kindred spirits that echo within both AI and the Church, I cannot think of a more philosophically aligned methodology for the work of our modern-day churches than AI.’
Published by Wordscapes and available to buy for £16, the 120-page book features dozens of Appreciative Inquiry practitioners from a wide variety of churches drawing from diverse theological sources.