Appreciative Inquiry Based Guide to Mutual Ministry Reviews
Over 380 pages of detailed strategies to Assess clergy skills and Discern Calls.
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The Rev. Dr. Rob Voyle is a leader in the development and use of appreciative coaching in his work with clergy.
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Mutual Ministry Valuations (MMV) provide an opportunity for the entire ministry community to come together and discover what is valuable about their mutual ministry. While many congregations have used a process known as Mutual Ministry Review the MMV process is distinct in that using appreciative processes we seek to discover and build on the things that give value to a congregation's ministry. In the valuing process we do not seek to discover what has not happened nor who was to blame for something not happening because it is impossible to build a future on what hasn't happened. In the valuing of a congregation's ministry we find the seeds of future ministries and the resources required to accomplish them.
The valuing process is also used to help people put the dagger of constructive criticism back in its scabbard. Have you ever noticed that the term " constructive criticism " is generally used by the criticizer and even when solicited often leaves you feeling stabbed rather than inspired to make changes? In contrast, we have continually found that a valuing process provides the inspiration to make continual improvement in the direction of increasing value. In this process we do not avoid problems. Rather we seek to establish a mindset that enables solutions to be discovered, for we have also found that problems cannot be resolved from the mindset that created them. Likewise we do not gloss over poor performance, rather we are seeking to create an environment that will energize performance in the direction of enhancing value.
Below is a comparison of the questions that are traditionally asked in Mutual Ministry Reviews and in a Mutual Ministry Valuations.
Parish Goal: To revitalize and re-energize the 10:00 am worship service.
|Traditional Ministry Review||Mutual Ministry Valuation|
How are we doing at accomplishing this goal?
How could the rector be more helpful in accomplishing this goal?
How could the Vestry be more helpful in accomplishing this goal?
Tell me a story of a time in the last 12 months when you have felt energized and enlivened by our 10:00 am worship service.
What made this service particularly inspiring for you?
What do we need to do to provide more opportunities for this type of inspiring worship?
The traditional method is vulnerable to a wide variety of responses that may or may not be helpful in either celebrating accomplishments or in planning for the future. If the worship has been revitalized the review will probably be positive and may lead to some helpful information and enthusiasm to continue the worship development. On the other hand if very little has been accomplished, even if much effort has been expended the review is likely to result in blaming and judgment of those supposedly responsible for the failure. The two subsequent questions of the rector and vestry are also likely to provide focus for the blame and lead to defensiveness. In this environment little energy will be found to create inspiring worship in the future. The subsequent changes that are made to reach the goal will in all probability fail because they are made from a motivation of defensiveness and fear to avoid further judgment rather than a loving desire to provide inspiring worship.
In contrast the valuing approach seeks to discover those times when the worship has been inspiring. Even if the performance has been poor and the goal largely unmet the people are focusing their attention on the desired goal and discovering even the rare occasions when it has occurred. At the same time these instances, even if few in number, are providing valuable information on what needs to be done in order for parishioners to be inspired in their worship.
Beyond the simple gathering of information the telling of stories in the valuing process enables a congregation to hold in their corporate consciousness examples of how they function at their best. This corporate consciousness of valued best experiences is the fertile ground upon which the Spirit of God can grow the future church.
CLI faculty are available to assist in developing mutual ministry valuation resources. We do not provide a " canned " process as we have found that the valuing process needs to be tailored to the specific needs of the congregation. We do however offer the following recommendations for those engaged in a review and valuing of a congregation's ministry. Most of these recommendations also apply to more traditional ministry reviews.