Organizational change

The Use of Appreciative Inquiry to Help a Congregation Through a Crisis Towards a More Positive Outlook: Reemphasizing Discipleship and Leadership Development

Martin Edward Spoelstra D.Min.

This portfolio was originally intended to research Discovery Church’s
journey to multisite. Over a four-month period just prior to launch of the second
site, the church dealt with a leadership and financial crisis brought on by a drop in
attendance. These changes necessitated putting multisite on hold and refocusing
energies on discipleship and mission.

The original research question proposed the use of an Appreciative Inquiry
model intended to help the congregation deal with the emotional and social shifts
to become one church with two locations. Facing new circumstances, the
Appreciative Inquiry model was modified to help the church deal with the
emotional and social concerns they had around the dramatic change in their
attendance and vision for multisite. This exercise gave an opportunity for the
Church to recall why they started as a church plant, some of the great things that
God had already done, the courage to risk once more, and step into a new future.

Out of the Appreciative Inquiry, Discovery Church embarked on the
rebuilding process that focused on clarifying their existing vision, developing
disciples making disciples, and a missional leadership development process,
eventually leading them back to the potential for multiplication.


Frank Savadera D.Min.
Savadera, Frank Dennis, B., D. Min. Seattle University, 2019. 201 pp.
Chair: Taylor, Mark Lloyd, PhD

This qualitative study investigates the relevant descriptions that first-generation immigrant Filipino volunteer church workers use to characterize their adopted multicultural parish. Further, it investigates how these descriptions influence their views on inclusion and religious engagement in their communities. The study hopes to generate faith and encourage theological reflections on: (1) persons’ capacities to encounter and embrace the “other”; (2) capacities for multiple-mindedness and recognition of a multiplicity of gifts; and (3) the call to embody and participate in the Trinitarian communion.
The central research questions asked are as follows: (1) How do first-generation immigrant Filipino volunteer parish workers in the Archdiocese of Seattle describe their experience of a multicultural context and how it affects their faith life and their view(s) of the church as an organization (i.e., in terms of church leadership, decision making, community dynamics, perspectives about the faith, programs/activities, etc.); (2) What personal values and dispositions do these immigrants believe positively/negatively affect their views of their parish as a multicultural organization; and (3) What does it mean for them to practice their religious culture in a multicultural setting? The research also asks these related questions: What recommendations would they suggest to members of organizations such as their respective parishes and the Seattle Archdiocese to help sustain involvement and participation in such multicultural contexts?
To study a phenomenon, i.e., a multicultural church, within multiple, bounded systems, this study uses a multi-case study design. Our cases consist of three groups, one representing each parish under study. The research employs a non-probability purposive sampling procedure, an interview protocol prescribed by Creswell (2006, 132), methods of field observation, archival documents, and relevant demographics.

Project Title: Perspectives of Global Leaders on the Future of Multiethnic Collaboration: An Exploration

Philip J. Smith D.Min.
This Doctor of Ministry Project explored new opportunities for interorganizational collaboration within a specific network of ministry partners around the globe. It focused on multiethnic teams and organizations that have been birthed, in part, out of the ministry of Leadership Resources International (LRI), a pastoral training organization headquartered in Illinois.

The purpose of this project was to carefully gather and clearly understand perspectives from multiethnic leaders of these various teams and organizations around the world in order help LRI wisely navigate interorganizational collaboration.

In preparation for the field work, the author researched biblical, theological, historical, missiological and theoretical perspectives involved with worldwide, evangelical, multiethnic, interorganizational collaboration.

The methodology of the project followed the Appreciative Inquiry approach to qualitative, action research in order to carefully facilitate gathering wisdom from these leaders. Extended, semi-structured interviews were conducted with twenty leaders on eight leadership teams from eight separate countries. The transcribed recordings of the interviews were coded and analyzed. Findings and proposals were formulated for LRI leadership and recommendations presented for a wider audience.

The project found that damaging attitudes that accompany power-differentials pose the greatest challenge to effective interorganizational collaboration for this network. It also found that multifaceted wisdom and humility would have the greatest potential for combating that challenge and should permeate all interorganizational initiatives. For LRI, in particular, along with recommended means of cultivating wisdom and humility, the researcher recommended the formation of a carefully designed global entity as the best means of facilitating wise interorganizational collaboration amidst the wide-ranging challenges of power-differentials around the world.

The importance of reading congregational culture for effective church leadership

Edwin Eng Wei Wong
This project paper seeks to provide practical tools to help pastors and leaders understand congregational culture to effectively lead their ministries. Drawing pointers from the servant-leadership practices of Nehemiah as well as other resources, the author formulates approaches to managing transition and leading change. Recommendations, based on broad observations from a survey on a small group of itinerant pastors in Singapore, are subsequently drawn.

[Note about entry: Abstract submitted to the Atla RIM database on behalf of the author. The text appears in its entirety as it does in the original abstract page of the author’s project paper. Neither words nor content have been edited.]

Stepping into the unknown : how imaging tools can help rebuild the church for a changed reality

Rudolph Hendrik Van Graan
After a discussion on the meta-shift in mainline churches in the United States, the trauma associated with decline, and suggesting building blocks for the future, the author offered three imaging tools, the Vision Board, SoulCollage® and the Visual Faith Project, that might help search committees and leadership teams in small and vulnerable congregations in the United Church of Christ discerning a vision and tangible goals for the future. Although these tools are focused on the individual, the author showed how each one of these tools could be used in the context of a group or a congregation as a whole.

[Note about entry: Abstract submitted to the Atla RIM database on behalf of the author. The text appears in its entirety as it does in the original abstract page of the author’s project paper. Neither words nor content have been edited.]

Spirit-led design : creating a congregational model for innovation

Beth Ludlum
The author led a research team that created a pilot program to test how human-centered design thinking can be adapted and applied in congregational settings. The team repurposed and supplemented existing resources to create a year-long curriculum for five congregations to experiment with new approaches to engage young adults. The team monitored effectiveness by soliciting reports at three junctures during the year; conducting individual interviews with participants; and collecting data through surveys. The program analysis suggests that a defined process, effective tools, and regular accountability are essential for congregations to be truly innovative rather than slipping into “quick fixes” or familiar programming.

[Note about entry: Abstract submitted to the Atla RIM database on behalf of the author. The text appears in its entirety as it does in the original abstract page of the author’s project paper. Neither words nor content have been edited.]

Interim religious education in the Unitarian Universalist tradition

Michele Townsend Grove
Does the interim religious education program developed by Unitarian Universalist religious educators work as a valid process for religious education and religious education professional transitions in the local church? The author used interviews and surveys of Unitarian Universalist religious educators, ministers, regional staff and lay persons to identify notable patterns of success and challenges in this specialized field. The final project outlines successes and challenges of interim religious education and includes suggestions for improvement.

[Note about entry: Abstract submitted to the Atla RIM database on behalf of the author. The text appears in its entirety as it does in the original abstract page of the author’s project paper. Neither words nor content have been edited.]

Graceful adjustments : financial decline and staff downsizing in congregations

Michelle Collins
It’s no secret that religious institutions in the United States are facing unprecedented challenges. Membership levels, participation, and financial giving and support are shifting. Congregations often struggle to keep up with the rate of the change. Nowhere is this truer than in the financial realm, especially when they must consider downsizing their staff. This project examines classic staffing models, situations where downsizing has taken place, and a process for addressing staff transition times strategically. These help to address the challenge of how congregations can adjust with grace and thrive in the face of declining resources and changing realities.

[Note about entry: Abstract submitted to the Atla RIM database on behalf of the author. The text appears in its entirety as it does in the original abstract page of the author’s project paper. Neither words nor content have been edited.]

The Impact of a Staff Performance Management System on Performance Outcomes and Employee Commitment in a Private, Christian, Higher Education Institution

Janis Lynn Ryder D.Min.
This thesis explored performance management in a private, Christian, Canadian, higher education institution. A Model for Effective Performance Management was developed which served as a framework for a participatory action research project that piloted a staff performance review process and tool aimed at improving employee performance and organizational commitment of university staff employees. Seven university departments were part of the pilot project which included participating in supervisor training, testing a new performance review process and tool, and providing post-pilot feedback.
Post-pilot online survey results and interviews with leaders demonstrated a higher rate of completed performance reviews, increased competency and comfort level of supervisors/appraisers to lead performance review conversations, and increased employee commitment and performance resulting from the performance review experience.
There are opportunities for HR professionals, churches, and para-church organizations to use and benefit from this research and the Model for Effective Performance Management.

Navigating organizational and leadership challenges as an assistant pastor, serving in an interim pastoral role

Joel David Hathaway
The purpose of this study was to explore how assistant pastors navigate challenges of adaptive leadership when the church loses its senior pastor, and the assistant pastor is expected to lead through the transition. A qualitative research methodology was employed to explore the scope of this topic. This study found that the exiting senior pastor, existing assistant/interim pastor, incoming senior pastor, and congregation all play active roles in guaranteeing success during pastoral transitions. This sh1dy also identified steps churches and pastors can take to retire outdated leadership models while integrating collaborative leadership methods that prepare congregations for periods of transition.
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