Appreciative Interim Ministry (AIM)
Integrating theology and organizational psychology
for ministry in transitional times.
Appreciative Interim Ministry (AIM) provides an incarnational model of entering into and joining with a congregation to facilitate interim ministry.
The basic goals of the interim time are:
- call a new rector or pastor
- prepare the congregation for the future with a new leader
- maintain and provide ongoing pastoral leadership of the congregation
Because the congregation will spend the rest of its existence in the future AIM is oriented toward imagining and developing their preferred future.
What in God's Name is Going on Here?"
Because what we focus on becomes our reality, AIM pays close attention to what the Interim "aims" at. One of the ways of doing this is to ask the very important question "What in God's Name is Going on Here?" Most of the time this question is answered with all sorts of nonsense that is clearly not occurring in God's name. Interims, and the people of God in general, have no business participating in these things. Meddling in such nonsense only keeps it alive, guarantees gossip and blaming will thrive, and results in the entire congregation being continually distracted from serving God. Because the congregation will be spending the rest of its life in the future, AIM is future oriented. We do not seek to discover causes of why things are the way they are, rather we seek resources to enable the congregation's preferred future to be made manifest. AIM uses a variety of appreciative strategies to continually keep asking this important question to discover the Godly things whether small or large that are occurring in the congregation. The Interim's task is to join with God in these activities, and to use them as the foundations of developing a preferred future.
Joining not Breaking
While many congregations share things in common, they are also unique and as such require a congregation specific ministry during their interim time. Some need to grieve, some need to heal, and others just need to keep on with what God has given them to do. In the incarnation Jesus emptied himself of divinity to enter into and join with the world of humanity. The outcome of the incarnation at an individual level meant that Jesus did not rely on a single strategy when dealing with people but rather he developed a unique way of joining with a person depending on their need to enable healing, growth and transformation. This incarnational model also underlies AIM in that we seek to join with a congregation in their uniqueness and from this perspective develop a ministry that enables the congregation to prepare for the future. Considerable emphasis is placed on joining with the congregation to co-create a preferred future rather than breaking the congregation and re-shaping them into some preconceived idea of what a congregation should look like.
From an AIM perspective the primary task of the Interim is to bless the congregation rather than change the congregation. When change is seen as the primary task of interim ministry the orientation is one of standing in judgment against and often results in resistance, conflict and deepening alienation. To bless a congregation does not mean that we simply seek to maintain the status quo. On the contrary we expect genuine blessing to enable genuine transformation just as Christ's compassionate embrace of humanity in the incarnation is a blessing that leads to transformation.
The Clergy Leadership Institute has developed a year long Appreciative Interim Ministry training program with the following format:
- Week Long Residential Intensive, Introduction to Appreciative Interim Ministry
- Weekly Teleconference for Implementation Consultation
- Pre-Training Leadership Assessment
- Week Long Residential Intensive, Leadership for Interim Times
Pre-Training Personal Strengths Assessment
Participants in the training take several assessment instruments online prior to the first intensive. During the first intensive the results will be discussed with respect to how the individual strengths of the interim will impact common interim activities.
Introduction to Appreciative Interim Ministry
This five day intensive is broken into two segments. The first half is devoted to learning the philosophy and process of appreciative inquiry which provides the foundation of AIM. Participants will learn AI by conducting an appreciative inquiry into their own ministry. The second half of the training is devoted to presenting the incarnational model of AIM and strategies for joining a congregation and working with the parish dynamics to co-create preferred outcomes. Issues such as dealing with grief, conflict, transition, strategic planning are presented within the appreciative framework and from the personal perspective of the Interim's personal strengths.
Weekly Teleconference for Implementation Consultation
Weekly telephone based conference calls allow small groups of interims actively engaged in interim ministry to receive additional training and just-in-time consultation as they implement the strategies of AIM. This consultative process deepens the learning of the intensive and provides real-time consultation as AIM strategies are implemented.
Pre-Training Leadership Assessment
As part of the ongoing development of the Interim Minister participants will complete
a 360 degree leadership assessment, the results of which will be discussed during the second intensive.
Leadership for Transitional Times
"A leader is someone who others choose to follow."
The second week long intensive looks primarily at issues of leadership during the interim time and especially the leadership style of the Interim Minister. The main questions of the second intensive are what enables people to follow a leader, and where will the people end up if they follow the Interim Minister. These leadership issues as they relate to leading a congregation through a time of transition are explored from the personal perspective of the individual leader as discovered in the pre-training assessment and from a review of leadership theory and practice.
Coaching and Consulting for clergy and congregations engaged in transitional ministry and the clergy search process.
Click here for a schedule of AIM training dates and locations.