Mark Lau Branson (from Fuller) presented a workshop where he talked about the work of leading transformation in congregations. It described the difference between STANDARD CHURCH PROBLEM SOLVING, i.e. go into a church, study the problems, talk solutions and then propose a plan to implement solutions – and APPRECIATIVE INQUIRY, i.e. asking questions about where God has been at work and then stoking the imagination as to how to further participate in these ways as a body. He called the latter interpretive leadership. He said the deadest churches he had been had still been places where God had been wonderfully at work, but there were no witnesses. He said every epistle of Paul (except Galations) begins with a thanksgiving prayer. Branson asked “when you begin like that, how does that shape your imagination?” He said starting out with appreciative questions about where God is working shapes the imagination totally differently than starting out by asking what’s wrong with this church, where have we failed? What are the problems in this church? Branson then went on to describe his work in a small little Methodist church dying in Oakland. The example of this one missional community is stunning. It’s impact began in the local community school, tutoring, led to changes in school lunch, class size, school funding, state wide! He said hospitality for the NT takes place in the neighbor’s home, on the neighbor’s turf. He described powerfully a community getting engaged missionally in their neighborhood. I came away stoked! I recommend his Memories, Hopes and Conversations.
David Fitch on Mark Lau Branson
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