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Discovering the Other

What is God's mission? Simply put, says theologian and field educator Cameron Harder, God's mission is to form communities that reflect and embody the life of the Trinity. Discovering the Other is an introduction to two tools that community builders have found helpful: appreciative inquiry and asset mapping. These tools help congregations see that all of life is saturated by the sacred and give them energy to begin living as if it were so. Instead of asking, 'What's wrong?' appreciative inquiry asks, 'What's right?' Asset mapping asks, 'What resources do you have personally that we could bring to our future together?' Out of these questions can arise a sense that every congregation is rich in history, people, and resources. Ideas emerge as people, inspired by the Spirit, listen and talk to each other. The leader's task is to facilitate, coalesce, and connect ideas, to catalyze and stimulate the development of vision. The creative connections lead to programs and projects that will enrich your congregation's mission. But most importantly, in the process they will engage you with others, with their stories, their hopes, their gifts - to build community. This book looks for God, not only through the lens of such tools, but in the tools themselves. It is an effort to understand how processes like appreciative inquiry and asset mapping reflect the character and community-building style of the God whom Christians worship as Divine community.
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Table of Contents

Preface Acknowledgments 1- The Church's Community-Building Mission 2- Public Church: A Mixed Blessing? 3- Appreciative Inquiry: Looking for God in the World 4- Asset Mapping: Doing Mission Like MacGyver 5- Beyond Strength: Mobilizing Weakness in the Economy of God Appendix A- Sample Appreciative Inquiry Questions Appendix B- Steps in Doing a Faith-Based Appreciative Inquiry Appendix C- Doing an Appreciative Inquiry in Small Groups: Guide for Facilitators and Hosts Notes

About the Author

Cameron Harder is professor of systematic theology at Lutheran Theological Seminary, Saskatoon, SK and founder of CiRCLe M, a non-profit that supports engagement of churches with their communities, especially in rural and remote settings. He trains D.Min. students in rural ministry and community development and does workshops for congregations and church judicatories. He has written chapters for Writing Off the Rural West and Doing Ethics in a Pluralistic World.


Cam Harder integrates two soul mates: Appreciative Inquiry and Asset Mapping on a foundation of theological reflection to provide a life-giving, gospel, way for congregations to be agents of transformation in their communities. -- Robert J. Voyle, Director, Clergy Leadership Institute, co-creator of the Appreciative Way Over my 25 years of pastoral and denominational leadership experience, I am always on the lookout for meaningful books to place in the hands of my pastors. I believe Discovering the Other offers a refreshing gift to pastors and church leaders to rediscover their unique identity and related potential to be used by God to literally change the world around them by being changed themselves! -- Tim Beadle, Church Effectiveness Coach, Western Canadian District, Christian & Missionary Alliance With this book, Cam Harder has done smaller membership churches (and indeed the whole church) a great service. Discovering the Other lays a substantial Trinitarian theological foundation for the essential task of building community, indicates how the church as a grassroots movement rather than an institution can contribute to a renewed sense of the public, and offers rationale as well as practical tools for using appreciative inquiry and asset mapping in building on churches' strengths. -- Shannon Jung, Franklin and Louise Cole Professor of Town and Country Ministries, Saint Paul School of Theology, Kansas City

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