Trinity Presbyterian Church used a positive discernment process known as Appreciative Inquiry to complete its Mission Self-Study. In an atmosphere of gratefulness to God, this structured listening approach gave Trinity’s members and friends the opportunity to share their best memories of Trinity, discuss Trinity’s strengths, and dream about what God is calling Trinity to do in the future.

On February 15, 2014, the Trinity family gathered for its Memories, Hopes, and Conversations event, which included worship, an extended time of sharing and lunch. During the time of sharing, participants began by interviewing each other in pairs, using these three questions:

  • Question 1: Remembering my entire experience at our church, when was I most alive, most motivated and excited about my involvement? What happened? What was my part? How did I feel?
  • Question 2: What do I value most about our church? What activities or ingredients or ways of life are most important? What are the best features of our church?
  • Question 3: Building on these experiences and strengths, what are three possibilities I prayerfully imagine that God might desire for the future of our church?

Following the interviews, participants gathered in groups of 6-8 and each person shared what they had heard from the person they interviewed. Each group was then asked to discern what it felt were Trinity’s three most significant strengths and also its three most important mission priorities for the future. Once this was done, the group was asked to illustrate their answers on a large sheet of paper that was then posted for all the other groups to see. Response from the event was very positive, with people feeling that they had been given an opportunity for their experiences to be heard and affirmed, and also to be part of creating a shared vision for the future.

Following this main event, the Appreciative Inquiry team began the process of collating the responses from the questionnaires. The team also held five smaller-scale events to give those people who were not able to attend the main event an opportunity to participate in the process. When the team discovered that there still remained several members who had not participated, it worked to contact each one individually, which garnered several more responses. The total number of responses was 133, and respondents covered an age range from 13 to 96 years old. The team now feels confident that the Mission Self-Study is as representative as possible of Trinity’s congregation, and we are pleased that the church members have a quite coherent vision for the future.

The complete document is available to view or download here. Appreciative Inquiry Mission Study