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Memories, Hopes, and Conversations


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Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures Preface Part I. Appreciative Inquiry and Congregational Change 1.Beginning Change: Weariness to Anticipation 2.Design and Theory: Frameworks for Appreciative Inquiry 3.Engaging Scripture: Memory, Thanksgiving, and Theological Reflection 4.Shaping a People through Appreciative Questions: Initiate and Inquire 5.Provoking Creative Change: Imagine and Innovate Part II. Five Church Narratives: How Did Appreciative Inquiry Change Your Relationship with Your Neighbors? 6.New Covenant United Methodist Church-Cumberland, Maryland Christopher Gobrecht 7.Akron Mennonite Church-Akron, Pennsylvania Jim S. Amstutz 8.Community Bible Church-Pasadena, California Jean Burch 9.Camberwell Baptist Church-Melbourne, Australia Andrew Menzies 10.Chestnut Level Presbyterian Church-Quarryville, Pennsylvania Michael R. Wilson Part III. Scripts and Schedules 11.Scripts 12.Schedules Notes Resources

About the Author

Mark Lau Branson is Homer L. Goddard Professor of Ministry of the Laity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a consultant with The Missional Network. His other publications include Starting Missional Churches and Churches, Cultures, and Leadership.


Many churches today are struggling to discern a hopeful future. The process of Appreciative Inquiry invites a community to identify what is most life-giving in its past and carry it forward. There is no better book on this topic than Mark Lau Branson's Memories, Hopes, and Conversations. This expanded edition is full of concrete stories of actual churches, biblical and theological insights, and even agendas and scripts to make the process easy and accessible. This is one of the most helpful books I know of for church leadership today. -- Dwight Zscheile, Luther Seminary The original edition of Memories, Hopes, and Conversations was a major contribution to congregational studies and practical theology with its inventive juxtaposition of Appreciative Inquiry and the compelling stories of a local community. This revised edition, with its profusion of new narratives in dialogue with AI, cements its place as a visionary, modern day classic in ministries studies. Bravo! -- Edward Foley, capuchin, Catholic Theological Union At last! Many of us have been waiting for this book. Grounded in solid theory and shaped by real-life experience, demonstrated in multiple stories of how leaders and churches are applying Appreciative Inquiry, Mark Lau Branson has not simply updated his original book but given us a new handbook for applying AI in our own contexts. I am particularly excited about the new stories that deepen the original theory behind AI. For the many leaders who have used the original book this is a welcome and expansive new resource. For readers new to the AI process and church leadership it is an important resource. -- Alan J. Roxburgh, president, The Missional Network I have long had the hunch that there is more missional activity going on in congregations than meets the eye, and that reinvigorating a church's mission might have more to do with fanning the flame of what is already happening than bemoaning what's not happening. Now, Mark Lau Branson has proved me right. And not only does he reveal the impact that Appreciative Inquiry can have on church revitalization but he also shows it can help you fall in love with your church all over again. -- Michael Frost, Morling College, author of The Shaping of Things to Come In this invigorating book, Mark Lau Branson and his colleagues prove Kurt Lewin's famous aphorism, "There's nothing so practical as a good theory." Drawing on the theory of Appreciative Inquiry in relation to congregational mission and leadership, Branson deftly guides the reader in applied research for the sake of participating in God's mission of mercy and justice for all creation. Branson's decades straddling the academic-ecclesial divide make his writing constantly provocative and useful for local churches seeking ventures both faithful and imaginative. This second edition includes not only revisions based on Branson's congregational consulting but also additional wise case studies from diverse leaders and congregations, aiding readers in taking up the process for themselves. Highly recommended! -- Christian Scharen, Auburn Theological Seminary Wise, hopeful, practical, spiritually fueled, and abounding in grace, Memories, Hopes, and Conversations brings together theology, scripture, Appreciative Inquiry, and the realities of lived experience to create space for a gracious and effective process of discernment and action that any community of faith can engage. I wish every congregation in the synod I serve could have a copy of this book and use its wise and hopeful guidance to initiate, inquire, imagine, and innovate new ways of being God's people in the world. -- Bishop William O. Gafkjen, Indiana-Kentucky Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Memories, Hopes, and Conversations renewed my leadership vision as a local church pastor during a challenging time of leadership transition. Now as a professor teaching young church leaders, I find that the book continues to offer positive, life-giving processes for mission to arise from the people of God in local communities. The added stories and strategies of varied congregations in this wonderful revised edition further spark a holy imagination for the future of the changing church. -- Rebecca Laird, Point Loma Nazarene University

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