In this course, we will connect contemporary approaches of using narrative for personal and organizational change to the traditional use of story in religious communities. We will explore ways to reorient and focus the practices of our religious leadership as “narrative leaders” by drawing upon the insights and specific approaches of narrative therapy, organizational story and narrative based approaches to change (e.g., Appreciative Inquiry, Future Search Conferences, etc.). Students will develop a specific plan for incorporating what you learn into your on-going practices of leadership within your ministry settings.
1. To analyze the current use of story in the practice of your religious leadership and to understand some of the dimensions of narrative leadership within congregations and other settings.
2. To utilize multiple disciplinary (organizational, literary, psychotherapeutic, and religious) frameworks for appreciating, interpreting and interacting with the congregation-as-a-story.
3. To study and to find relevant uses for various storied approaches to deep change within congregations, including identity-work, appreciative inquiry, narrative therapy and organizational narrative approaches.
4. To establish an understanding of the various levels of leadership interaction within a congregation focusing on leading through adaptive challenges, congregational culture change and renewal and redevelopment.
5. To develop a specific plan for incorporating what you learn into your on-going practice of leadership and to apply this learning in a specific practice-oriented project.
Our first session will provide a theoretical and practical launching of our inquiry into narrative leadership, deep change and narrative approaches to interacting with a congregation. (or other religious settings.) Following this first session, a final paper that integrates some of the students inquiry into narrative leadership or a particular narrative approach toward some adaptive challenge she or he has identified
You are expected to have completed the assigned reading for that session in order to fully participate in the discussion and the application of the content to specific adaptive challenges within their setting.
Session 1: Beginning Our Inquiry: Deep Change and Narrative Leadership
Tuesday, September 18; 10:00 am -5:00 pm
Reading after first session: Anthony Robinson, Transforming Congregational Culture, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2003.
Assignment: Identify one adaptive challenge for your congregation and ministry setting. What are your current strategies? What application can you make of the strategies Robinson offers 124-136? (3-5 pages).
Session 2: Exegeting the Congregation
Tuesday, October 9, 9:00 am- 4:00 pm
Reading: James Hopewell, Congregations: Stories and Structures, pp. 40-118, Janet Cawley, Who Is Our Church? Imagining Congregational Identity.
Session 3: Re-Storying a Congregation: Narrative Therapy and Narrative mediation in Congregations
Tuesday, October 30, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Reading and assignment (3-5 page paper): To be distributed at class on October 9th.
Session 4: Designing a New Narrative: Appreciative Inquiry
Tuesday, November 13, 9:00 am -4:00 pm
Reading: Mark Lau Branson, Memories, Hopes, and Conversations: Appreciative Inquiry and Congregational Change
Session 5: Incorporating Narrative Leadership and Practice
Tuesday, December 11, 9:00 am -4:00 pm
Reading: Hopewell, Congregations: Stories and Structures, pp. 119-202 and a reading that will be distributed.
Final Paper and short presentation: An integration paper of how you have applied our inquiry into narrative leadership to the adaptive challenge you identified after the first class. You may focus on one approach (e.g., narrative mediation, appreciative inquiry, Hopewell’s approach, etc.) or a combination of approaches. (suggested length 15 pages).
Instructor: The Rev. Dr. Lawrence Peers, Adjunct Professor in the Arts of Ministry and consultant and seminar leader with The Alban Institute, a national resource for congregational vitality.
Rev. Dr. Peers has specialized training in narrative therapy, Appreciative Inquiry and whole system participatory planning approaches.
Contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org Please put “Hartford Seminary: Deep Change Course” in the subject line of your email.
Office phone: 617-323-9606
James Hopewell, Congregations: Stories and Structures, Augsburg Fortress Press, 2006.
Mark Lau Branson, Memories, Hopes, and Conversations: Appreciative Inquiry and Congregational Change, The Alban Institute, 2004
Janet Cawley, Who Is Our Church? Imagining Congregational Identity, The Alban Institute, 2006
Alice Morgan, What is narrative therapy? Gecko, 2000 [May not be available in Hartford Seminary bookstore, so I will distribute reading as a substitute].
Anthony Robinson, Transforming Congregational Culture, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2003
Recommended (Additional and optional resources for Integration Paper)
Annette Simmons, Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins, American Management Association
Israel Galindo, The Hidden Lives of Congregations: Discerning Church Dynamics, The Alban Institute, 2004
John Winslade and Gerald Monk, Narrative Mediation: A New Approach to Conflict Resolution, Jossey Bass
Annette Simmons, The Story Factor: Inspiration, Influence, and persuasion through the art of story telling, Basic Books, 2001