Appreciative Inquiry was introduced to the group as a way to celebrate what is going well in ministry as well as address the very difficult conversations around diversity and the places where we need to grow. As we introduced ourselves in an ice breaking conversation—where we lived, our conference affiliation, what we brought to the table and what we hoped to gain from this experience—the words people shared were intriguing.
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Appreciative Inquiry offers new hope and new possibilities for congregations in the midst of change. Church leaders can invigorate their congregations by focusing on strengths and re-imagining the future. When done in the context of discerning God’s call, we celebrate what God has done and what God can do through the people of Jesus Christ.
Tom Porter, director of the Program in Religion and Conflict Transformation at Boston University School of Theology and former Executive Director of JustPeace, delivered the 2013 Karl Cron Community Lecture, speakin on “Restorative Justice” as a response to mass incarceration, retributive justice and retributive theology.
“Restorative justice is the future,” Porter said, “But it’s also what we have been reading about since we were children in Sunday school … biblical justice.”
The principles of restorative justice are indeed prophetic ones as they provide a framework for doing the work that God has called us to do with both victims and offenders.
Conflict does not mean we are not Christians. The first apostles argued about what committed Christians often disagree on: goals and methods.
Pastor, are you ready to see the returning war veteran now? They are here and they need you. But be aware, when you open you door to the veteran, he or she will open your eyes to visions you may carry with you for the rest of your life.
“Holy Saturday,” the day between life and death, is the place where many returning military personnel and their families live, a theology professor told participants at a conference to help churches welcome home the warrior.
For those of us in movements like JustPeace, we need not only to keep promoting and cultivating non-violent relationships of mutuality in conflict transformation, but also to commit ourselves to the healing of the minds and hearts of people frozen in the tragic consequence of war. We are in them. They are in us. We walk this road together.
Appreciative Inquiry (AI), which grew out of Dr. David Cooperrider’s Ph.D. work in the 1980s, is a response to more traditional approaches that tend to focus on problems. Rather than focusing on problems, AI focuses on discovering and building on the life-giving forceswithin an organization. A core belief of AI is that in every organization, something works.