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The goal of this ministry focus paper is to implement and assess a process of biblically informed Appreciative Inquiry to catalyze revitalization for Village Covenant Church, in Azusa, California, which is at a place of organizational decline and opportunity. An intervention of Appreciative Inquiry is the strategy to bring the congregation’s newest participants into dialogue with established members of the church. Appreciative Inquiry, based on the theories of social constructionism, is able to raise the discourse in an organization to new positive levels. This intervention is a vehicle for reflecting upon what the church values most, the best of its heritage. Recalling the past and exploring the imaginations of present participants, the congregation envisions possible new futures to strengthen and build existing ministries, all in an environment of gratitude and mutual respect.
The paper is divided into three parts. Part One examines Village Covenant Church, comparing its peak ministry years and ambiguous present, a present notable for different opinions about the condition of the church. The section explores the context of turnover leading to this state, as well as recent, frustrating attempts at renewal. A chapter details important denominational features in the Evangelical Covenant Church to help define the church’s character.
Part Two presents the theory, principles, and processes of Appreciative Inquiry, particularly in the setting of church applications. The section also examines Appreciative Inquiry in light of three biblical motifs: human dignity, narrative, and sharing in God’s faithfulness. Lastly, the section assesses a biblical theology of missional identity: a church’s understanding of itself as a reflection of God’s purposes as narrated in Scripture, as opposed to false representations as narrated in culture.
Part Three details the design of the Appreciative Inquiry process for Village Covenant Church: listening sessions and a town hall gathering for engaging in constructive communication. The last chapter appraises the outcomes. It highlights two proposals emerging from the process and reveals encouraging signs of generativity in the congregation’s current discourse.
Theological Mentor: Mark Lau Branson, EdD
Material is subject to copyright
Marzluft, Matthew J., "A Strategy to Awaken Initiative and Imagination: Appreciative Inquiry at Village Covenant Church" (2009). Doctor of Ministry Projects. 17.