Focusing on what works by ProQuest


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									                                                                                 Canadian Mennonite March 16, 2009                       19

daily lives, peace with the environment and
“wars” over styles of worship, as well as big
issues like the church’s role in the state.
                                                Focusing on what works
   Maria Krause of Langley Mennonite            New appreciative inquiry tool helps churches to dream and hope
Fellowship was particularly appreciative
of the talks about peace in daily living, es-   By Dave Ro gal sk y
pecially of “the complexities of that peace     eastern canada correspondent
and obtaining it, and the willingness to ac-
cept that there are times when all we can
do is . . . give it all to God.”
   The rest of the weekend was filled with
all kinds of activities, such as hikes up the
                                                I  t was time for Matthew and Hendrike
                                                   Isert Bender, pastors at Nith Valley
                                                Mennonite Church near New Hamburg,
                                                                                              Strengths can be both present- and future-
                                                                                              oriented, as participants are invited to look
                                                                                              at what works, and their dreams and un-
snow-covered mountain behind Squeah,            Ont., to be evaluated.                        resolved hopes. The unresolved hopes are
board games, an impromptu Connect Four             “Matthew and I didn’t mind going           the place where weaknesses do show up,
tournament, and plenty of maté (a tealike       through another evaluation process,           though, as AI does not exist in a Pollyanna
beverage, popular in many South American        but we thought that after almost seven        world where no change is necessary.
countries, brewed from the dried leaves of      years together it would be good to com-          Growing out of mathematical and sci-
an evergreen shrub) to go around. Λ             bine it with a congregational evaluation,”    entific models in the 20th century, which
                                                Hendrike says.                                looked at large numbers of data, AI theory
                                                   So, instead of filling out evaluation      suggests that “what we focus on becomes
CK Tax & Bookkeeping Service                    forms, the congregation used a narrative      our reality.” If people focus on illness, they
      Tax Professional
                                                approach, telling stories of what worked in   are sick and in need of cure. If they focus
        145 Grand Ave. E                        the congregation and in the congregation-     on health, they learn to build on their
          Chatham, Ont.
            N7L 1W3                             al-pastoral relationship, including spend-    strengths.
          519-351-3906                          ing time face to face in a retreat.              According to AI proponents, simply ask-                        Muriel Bechtel, MC Eastern Canada          ing questions begins to change organiza-
  Serving Southwestern Ontario.                 conference minister, says of the process      tions from within. By focusing on what is
                                                known as appreciative inquiry (AI), “The      already working, they move into the future
                                                stories that people tell are energizing to    in areas where they already have comfort
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