Appreciative Inquiry and Churches
- Discover and grow the life-giving qualities of your Church
- A way to give the church life rather than less death
- Seeking solutions rather than diagnosis, blame and judgment
- The Appreciative Inquiry 5D model of church development
Appreciative Inquiry and Your Church
The church is a mystery to embrace rather than a problem to be solved
Appreciative Inquiry is based on the idea of discovering what works and gives life to an organization and building the organization on these life giving properties. David Cooperrider, the founder or Appreciative Inquiry describes it this way:
"More than a method or technique, the appreciative mode of inquiry
is a means of living with, being with and directly participating in the
life of a human system in a way that compels one to inquire into the
deeper life-generating essentials and potentials of organizational
In using Appreciative Inquiry in churches we describe it as discovering "What
in God's name is going on here" and then designing the church
structure and programs to enable more of these Godly things to be done and
The 5D AI Model of Development
The Five Phases of the Appreciative Process
1: Define: Awareness of the need for development.
Preparing for an appreciative process.
Committing to the Positive
2: Discover: What in God's name is going on in your church?
Interview process and gathering of life-giving experience within congregation.
Valuing the Best of What Is
3: Dream: What is God and the community calling us to be?
What would our church look like in 5 years time?
Developing common images of the future.
Visioning the Ideal
4: Design: Aligning ideals, values, structures and mission
Developing achievable plans and steps to make the vision a reality.
Dialoguing What Needs to Be
5: Deliver: Doing Christ's Work in the World.
Co-creating a sustainable, preferred future.
Who, What, When, Where, How?
Innovating What Will Be
The Appreciative Approach
The basic process is typically referred to as the 5D model of development as described above. Earlier literature also refers to a 4D model which did not include the "Define" phase as part of the process.
Other Models have included 4Is: Initiate, Inquire, Imagine and Innovate.
In essence the AI model uses a process of inquiry to discover people's best experience and use these experiences as a basis for imagining a future and designing the processes and structures that will make the imagined future a reality. This imagined future however is not just a fantasy because it is grounded in the experiences of the people involved.
What is noteworthy about the AI approach in comparison to other organizational development models is that it doesn't require a detailed analysis of problems or deficits. Consequently AI is less prone to initiating negative, blaming and judgmental atmospheres than problem focussed interventions. See the AI Philosophy and AI FAQs for more information on these differences.
A one page handout of the 5D model suitable for introducing AI to others is available in ".pdf" format at the
Training in The Appreciative Way
All of our Coaching, Ministry and Leadership training programs are based on the Appreciative Way.
We offer a blend of residential intensives and teleconferences to train you to appreciatively use your gifts for the benefit of others.
Appreciative Way Training
We are approved sponsors of Continuing Education for Psychologists and Coaches through the APA and BCC.
Please contact Dr. Robert Voyle, if you have questions regarding the suitability of a program to meet your continuing education needs.
What Participants Say
After 45 years in the pastoral ministry and attending three events led by Rob Voyle, I have finally learned a better way to help church leaders help themselves and the people they serve.
John Wilkerson, Director: Church Leadership Coaching & Consulting
Rob's appreciative coach training helped me to rethink the way I approach and provide
Dr. George Moses, Pastoral Counselor
Rob will enhance your ability to delight in yourself, your neighbor and God through his insightful, practical, loving, professionally grounded, appreciative and often mischievous coaching and
teaching skills; and that will make you a better leader and citizen in God's creation.
Ed Leidel, Episcopal Bishop and Congregational Coach serving North America
"Of all the training I have been to, your notes are the ones I keep coming back to time and again for practical resources."
P.W. Conference Pastor.