Thursday, 13 August 2015

'It's not a job, it's not CSD's job for you to do a needs assessment'.  Pastor Li sounds frustrated with his fellow pastor.  Pastor Li, a dynamic young man, heads up the local Church Service Department (CSD) which is a small Chinese NGO.  

He has a great ability to bring diverse people together and to inspire church leaders with vision.  But many local church leaders still look to the CSD to do most of the work.  It's as if responsibility for the second greatest commandment that Jesus gave us 'to love your neighbour as yourself' (Matthew 22v39) has been delegated out to the CSD and it's no longer the role of local churches to live this out.

In a discussion a few days later we ask CSD leaders to think about the current roles of all the different groups involved in their HIV work.  They all see the CSD as leading and local churches and communities implementing or benefiting.  But then we ask them to reflect on John the Baptist's statement that 'he [Jesus] must become greater, I must become less'. In the light of this they realise that they want local churches and vulnerable people to increasingly shape the work themselves.

I notice the value of these questions 'who is leading?' and 'who should be leading?'  I think they are good questions to also challenge ourselves.  Do we sometimes lead when we should be helping others to lead?  Maybe we too need to become less so that others can become greater.   

Friday, 7 August 2015

Do you come alive when someone encourages you?  Take a look at this delightful photo of Lo as fellow participants applaud him.  I love the look of joy on his face.

My colleague Jané and I recently used the encouragement principles of appreciative enquiry to frame two workshops in China.  We focused on 4 stages:

Devotions: What does the Bible have to say about what we are working on?
Delight: What is going really well in the work already?
Dream: What would we love to see happening in the future? 
Design: What steps can we take from where we are towards this dream?    

The beauty of this approach is its positive focus.  As the Bible tells us 'let us encourage one another' Hebrews 10v25.  This helps participants relax, avoids defensiveness and encourages people to dream big and take risks.  We also found that by sticking what we discovered on the walls we could help everyone see the journey we were on.

There's much more detail to appreciative enquiry than this. But I've found over the years that just using these words has often been enough.  For instance I've used them to structure an evaluation, a learning review, feedback on a field visit and the simplest of conversations.  I hope people leave with smiles on their faces and ready to chase their dreams.