Appreciative Inquiry Guide to the narrative section of the OTM Portfolio

Dear friends of the Discernment Doctor,

Sorry to be away from the blog for a while.  Sometimes the day job at Old North gets a bit busy.  Glad to see that a steady stream of folks continue to visit the blog for help with the Episcopal discernment process.

An “Ask the Discernment Doctor” query has prompted this post.  Abigail asks, “I need tips, advice, general help, and how best to answer the questions in the narrative section of the OTM profile.”  This is a frequently asked question and focuses on the most useful section of the OTM portfolio.  Last spring, I led a seminar for Massachusetts clergy focusing on the topic which was well received.  Below is the material I used to help clergy respond to the narrative questions.

Visitors to this blog know that I am a fan of Rob Voyle’s Clergy Leadership Institute.  With Rob’s permission and guidance, I adapted his generic appreciative interview format for the questions in the OTM narrative sections.  Appreciative interviews require two peers to interview each other with a series of questions that explore personal stories and their underlying values.  An interview should last about an hour, with each participant taking half an hour to interview the other.  Several examples of Rob’s appreciative interviews can be found here.

To get the most value from this Appreciative Inquiry Guide to the OTM Narrative Section, I suggest that clergy find a partner and schedule a series of meetings to slowly go through each set of questions.  You will discover that the process of sharing your passions and skills with a peer will help you better discern the talents God has given you to offer to the world.  You may also discover there are better questions to ask than the ones I have written.  Feel free to modify the sets of questions while keeping the basic format.

Steve

Appreciative inquiry to the narrative section of the OTM Portfolio

Instructions: In pairs interview one another using the following questions. Be a generous interviewer. Do not dialogue, rather take turns to actually conduct an interview. If you need more information or clarification ask additional follow-up questions. Use this sheet to record the results of your interview. Use one half hour per person to interview each other.

Before you conduct the interview take a minute to read the questions and decide how you will personally answer the question and make a mental note of your response. Now proceed with the interviews, paying full attention to the interviewee rather than to your story.

OTM QUESTION: Describe a moment in your recent ministry that you recognize as one of success and fulfillment.

1. Tell me of a time in your ministry when you experienced success and fulfillment.  When you accomplished something in your life during that made you feel excited, enriched, fulfilled, alive, and hopeful for your future. What made it exciting? Who was involved? Describe the event in detail.

2. Without being humble, when you think of the success, what is it that you most value about yourself? What personal resources did you bring to the success that made it so fulfilling?

3. Describe any external resources (i.e. those resources beyond yourself) that enriched this experience of success.  Who or what else contributed to the success?

Appreciative inquiry to the narrative section of the OTM Portfolio

Instructions: In pairs interview one another using the following questions. Be a generous interviewer. Do not dialogue, rather take turns to actually conduct an interview. If you need more information or clarification ask additional follow-up questions. Use this sheet to record the results of your interview. Use one half hour per person to interview each other.

Before you conduct the interview take a minute to read the questions and decide how you will personally answer the question and make a mental note of your response. Now proceed with the interviews, paying full attention to the interviewee rather than to your story.

OTM QUESTION Describe your liturgical style and practice.

1. Tell me of a time in your community’s worship life where the liturgy exceeded the congregation’s expectations. When the spirit of God was present and made the congregation feel excited, enriched, fulfilled, alive, and blessed. What made it a blessing? Who was involved? Describe the event in detail.

2. Without being humble, when you think of the your role leading worship, what is it that you most value about yourself? What personal resources did you bring to worship that make it so fulfilling?

3. Describe any external resources (i.e. those resources beyond yourself) that enriched this experience of worship.  Who or what else contributed to the success?

Appreciative inquiry to the narrative section of the OTM Portfolio

Instructions: In pairs interview one another using the following questions. Be a generous interviewer. Do not dialogue, rather take turns to actually conduct an interview. If you need more information or clarification ask additional follow-up questions. Use this sheet to record the results of your interview. Use one half hour per person to interview each other.

Before you conduct the interview take a minute to read the questions and decide how you will personally answer the question and make a mental note of your response. Now proceed with the interviews, paying full attention to the interviewee rather than to your story.

OTM QUESTION How do you practice incorporating others in ministry?

1. Tell me of a time when you enable others to be fully engaged in the ministry of your community. When they felt excited, enriched, fulfilled, alive, and blessed in their ministry. How were they encouraged and supported? Who was involved? Describe the event in detail.

2. Without being humble, when you think of the your role in encouraging and mentoring the ministry of others, what is it that you most value about yourself? What personal resources did you bring to supporting ministry that make it so fulfilling?

3. Describe any external resources (i.e. those resources beyond yourself) that enriched this experience of mentoring and encouragement.  Who or what else contributed to the success?

Appreciative inquiry to the narrative section of the OTM Portfolio

Instructions: In pairs interview one another using the following questions. Be a generous interviewer. Do not dialogue, rather take turns to actually conduct an interview. If you need more information or clarification ask additional follow-up questions. Use this sheet to record the results of your interview. Use one half hour per person to interview each other.

Before you conduct the interview take a minute to read the questions and decide how you will personally answer the question and make a mental note of your response. Now proceed with the interviews, paying full attention to the interviewee rather than to your story.

OTM QUESTION How do you care for your spiritual, emotional and physical well-being?

 

1. Tell me of a time in your life when you felt refreshed from the daily demands of your vocation. When you felt rested and at ease, open to the blessings of creation. What were you doing that made this a time of renewal? Who was involved? Describe the event in detail.

2. Without being humble, when you think about caring for yourself, what practices do you most value? What practices and hobbies bring you joy?

3. What personal resources do you seek to care for yourself? Who else helps you care for your spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being?

 

Appreciative inquiry to the narrative section of the OTM Portfolio

Instructions: In pairs interview one another using the following questions. Be a generous interviewer. Do not dialogue, rather take turns to actually conduct an interview. If you need more information or clarification ask additional follow-up questions. Use this sheet to record the results of your interview. When your interviews are completed you will present the results to the wider group.  Use one half hour per person to interview each other.

Before you conduct the interview take a minute to read the questions and decide how you will personally answer the question and make a mental note of your response. Now proceed with the interviews, paying full attention to the interviewee rather than to your story.

OTM QUESTION: Describe your involvement in either the wider Church or geographical community.

 

1. Tell me of a time when you were involved in your city or town or in your diocese where your participation made a significant difference in the work they were addressing. Where your contributions were valued by other participants and where the outcome of your work was a success. What were your significant contributions? Who else was involved? Describe the event in detail.

2. Without being humble, when you think of the your role as a community or church leader, what is it that you most value about yourself? What are your personal skills and attributes that enable you to make a positive contribution?

3. Describe how you blend your particular gifts with the gifts of others so they enrich the outcome of your work together.

 

Appreciative inquiry to the narrative section of the OTM Portfolio

Instructions: In pairs interview one another using the following questions. Be a generous interviewer. Do not dialogue, rather take turns to actually conduct an interview. If you need more information or clarification ask additional follow-up questions. Use this sheet to record the results of your interview. When your interviews are completed you will present the results to the wider group.  Use one half hour per person to interview each other.

Before you conduct the interview take a minute to read the questions and decide how you will personally answer the question and make a mental note of your response. Now proceed with the interviews, paying full attention to the interviewee rather than to your story.

OTM QUESTION: How do you engage in pastoral care for others?

 

1. Tell me of a time when you provided significant pastoral care to a member of your community. When God’ reconciling and healing spirit was able to touch someone’s life in a time of need. How was your pastoral care a blessing? Who was involved? Describe the event in detail.

2. Without being humble, when you think of the your role as a pastor, what is it that you most value about yourself? What personal resources did you bring to pastoral care that make it so fulfilling?

3. Describe any external resources (i.e. those resources beyond yourself) that enriched your exercise of pastoral care.  Who or what else contributed to the success?

 

Appreciative inquiry to the narrative section of the OTM Portfolio

Instructions: In pairs interview one another using the following questions. Be a generous interviewer. Do not dialogue, rather take turns to actually conduct an interview. If you need more information or clarification ask additional follow-up questions. Use this sheet to record the results of your interview. When your interviews are completed you will present the results to the wider group.  Use one half hour per person to interview each other.

Before you conduct the interview take a minute to read the questions and decide how you will personally answer the question and make a mental note of your response. Now proceed with the interviews, paying full attention to the interviewee rather than to your story.

OTM QUESTION: Tell about a ministry project that exists because of your leadership. What was your role in its creation? Who can be contacted about this project?

1. Tell about a ministry project that exists because of your leadership. What was your role in its creation?   What made it succeed? Who was involved? Describe the event in detail.  Who can be contacted about this project?

2. Without being humble, when you think of the your role leading project development, what is it that you most value about yourself? What personal resources did you bring that makes developing projects so fulfilling?

3. Describe any external resources (i.e. those resources beyond yourself) that enriched this project.  Who or what else contributed to the success?

 

Appreciative inquiry to the narrative section of the OTM Portfolio

Instructions: In pairs interview one another using the following questions. Be a generous interviewer. Do not dialogue, rather take turns to actually conduct an interview. If you need more information or clarification ask additional follow-up questions. Use this sheet to record the results of your interview. Use one half hour per person to interview each other.

Before you conduct the interview take a minute to read the questions and decide how you will personally answer the question and make a mental note of your response. Now proceed with the interviews, paying full attention to the interviewee rather than to your story.

OTM QUESTION: How are you preparing yourself for the Church of the future?

 

1. Tell me about an experience, seminar, retreat or other formation program that gave you hope about building a stronger church in the future. When you learned a new set of skills or were given a new perspective on the opportunities for ministry in the future Why were you excited? Who was involved? Describe the event in detail.

2. Without being humble, when you think of the your role leading the church into the future, what is it that you most value about yourself? What personal resources did you bring to strategic visioning that that engages your heart and soul?

3. Describe any external resources (i.e. those resources beyond yourself) that enriched your vision of the church’s future.  Who or what else contributed to your vision?

Appreciative inquiry to the narrative section of the OTM Portfolio

Instructions: In pairs interview one another using the following questions. Be a generous interviewer. Do not dialogue, rather take turns to actually conduct an interview. If you need more information or clarification ask additional follow-up questions. Use this sheet to record the results of your interview. Use one half hour per person to interview each other.

Before you conduct the interview take a minute to read the questions and decide how you will personally answer the question and make a mental note of your response. Now proceed with the interviews, paying full attention to the interviewee rather than to your story.

OTM QUESTION: What is your personal practice of stewardship and how do you utilize it to influence your ministry in your worshipping community?

 

1. Tell me of a time when your personal stewardship practices gave you a sense of joy and accomplishment. When your generosity felt like a deep blessing. What made it a blessing? Who was involved? How did you share that blessing with your community?  Describe the event in detail.

2. Without being humble, when you think of the your role leading stewardship, what is it that you most value about yourself? What personal resources did you offer that make it so fulfilling?

3. Describe any external resources (i.e. those resources beyond yourself) that help you as a stewardship leader.  Who or what else contributed to the success?

Appreciative inquiry to the narrative section of the OTM Portfolio

Instructions: In pairs interview one another using the following questions. Be a generous interviewer. Do not dialogue, rather take turns to actually conduct an interview. If you need more information or clarification ask additional follow-up questions. Use this sheet to record the results of your interview. Use one half hour per person to interview each other.

Before you conduct the interview take a minute to read the questions and decide how you will personally answer the question and make a mental note of your response. Now proceed with the interviews, paying full attention to the interviewee rather than to your story.

OTM QUESTION: What is your experience of conflict involving the church? And what is your experience in addressing it?

 

1. Tell me of a time when you were able to help your community resolve a conflict. When the spirit of God was present and helped the congregation move from being stuck to feeling blessed. How did you get from point A to point B? Who was involved? Describe the event in detail.

2. Without being humble, when you think of the your role resolving conflict, what is it that you most value about yourself? What personal resources did you bring that make it so effective?

3. Describe any external resources (i.e. those resources beyond yourself) that helped bring the congregation together.   Who or what else contributed to increased harmony?

Appreciative inquiry to the narrative section of the OTM Portfolio

Instructions: In pairs interview take time to interview one another using the following questions. Be a generous interviewer. Do not dialogue, rather take turns to actually conduct an interview. If you need more information or clarification ask additional follow-up questions. Use this sheet to record the results of your interview. Use one half hour per person to interview each other.

Before you conduct the interview take a minute to read the questions and decide how you will personally answer the question and make a mental note of your response. Now proceed with the interviews, paying full attention to the interviewee rather than to your story.

OTM QUESTION: What is your experience leading/addressing change in the church? When has it gone well? When has it gone poorly? And what did you learn?

 

1. Tell me of a time when your community moved from one spiritual place to another.  Where a major change in leadership, program, liturgy or architecture took place.   What helped the congregation move from one place to another?  Who was involved? Describe the event in detail.

2. Without being humble, when you think of the your role leading change, what is it that you most value about yourself? What personal resources did you bring to change that enable others to take risks?

3. Describe any external resources (i.e. those resources beyond yourself) that enabled the congregation to move from one place to another.  Who or what else contributed to the success?

Accidental Deployment Experiment Concludes

The Rev. Eleanor Terry joined the Old North staff this month, much to the delight of the congregation and staff.  A few final observations are in order:

  1. We spoke with a number of very qualified candidates and had to disappoint many because we could only hire one.
  2. A few fine candidates also turned us down, withdrawing from the search before we made a final call.  Discernment goes both ways.
  3. As we conducted most of the search over the summer, a few interested clergy expressed frustration in the fall that they didn’t know the position was open.  For those of you seeking a new call, it is very important to keep tabs on position open listing.
  4. The Rev. Ellie Terry applied after seeing the position listed on our diocesan website.  The largest group of inquiries came from our bishop and transition ministry office.  The second largest group came from the EDN Job Posting.  The third came from the OTM listing.  About 25 inquiries were received.
  5. While I have been known to grouse about the length of search processes, I must confess that delaying the beginning of our search worked in Old North’s favor.  Ellie would not have been looking for a position twelve months ago, when the former assistant resigned.  There is room for serendipity and the Holy Spirit in the timing of searches.

 

 

Accidental Deployment Experiment Follow Up

The accidental deployment experiment is wrapping up.  We are no longer receiving names for any of our vacant positions, and I am going on vacation for a couple of weeks.

We filled the education director position in about five weeks, beginning with fifty plus applications.

We are down to finalists for the assistant vicar position, having received around twenty-five inquiries or recommendations.  Our bishop will be interviewing finalists in early September, about twelve months after initial conversations began.  I will blog more about the process when we have made a call.

Both search committees were pleased with the quality of candidates presented.

 

AN ACCIDENTAL DEPLOYMENT EXPERIMENT

Old North began advertising for two comparable professionals in late June, an assistant vicar to oversee congregational life and a museum education director, to oversee the interpretation of the Old North historic site to 525,000 annual visitors.  The two jobs both require a master’s degree and some experience.  Compensation is similar.

The current assistant vicar submitted his resignation last fall, in anticipation of completion of a PhD and pursuit of an academic career.  The process of getting all the parties with a financial or pastoral stake in the decision to restructure my job and hire a new assistant vicar took eight months.

The current education director submitted her resignation in mid June, after accepting an exciting job at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. It took two days to consult with the Old North Foundation board chair and the education committee chair to agree on a strategy to find a new education director.

Both positions were listed on professional jobs bulletin boards in late June.  The assistant vicar position can be found on the OTM, EDN, and TMN sites.  EDN post went up immediately, OTM and TMN both had to go through the diocesan transition ministry office and took over a week to post. The education director was listed on two regional bulletin boards: “HireCulture.org” and the New England Museum Association site.  Both sites posted immediately, for a small fee.

The church has received seven responses to date for the assistant vicar position.  The Old North Foundation has received twenty-five responses in the same time period.

We are just beginning the review and interview process for both positions, and we are still accepting applications, so I have no comment about the quality of candidates for either job.  At this point in the process, my only observation is that the secular system is far more efficient and has yielded a larger quantity of inquiries.  I assume we will complete the search for the education director first.

Anyone interested in either of these positions is welcome to contact me at my church e-mail: vicar@oldnorth.com.

A Family Favor II and Point of Personal Privilege

My brother’s parish, Calvary, Pittsburgh, is looking for a curate in addition to looking for a new rector.  Anyone interested should contact http://www.calvarypgh.org/curate/curate.htm

My own Old North Church is looking for a ¾ time assistant vicar.  We are looking for someone to provide pastoral leadership for the congregation as much of my time is dedicated to managing the museum side of our operation.  Experience with young professionals ministry is a plus.  More information can be found on the OTM Portfolio website.

We are accepting names at least until the end of July.

A Family Favor

Normally, I leave it up to you, good clergy friends, to peruse the various job listing sites than run down the left column of this blog, but as my brother happens to be chairing the search committee for Calvary, Pittsburgh, allow me to call that gem of a parish to your attention.  Pittsburgh is a great little city and my hometown. Calvary is the parish that led the successful effort to keep the Diocese of Pittsburgh in the Episcopal Church.  Go to http://calvaryrectorsearch.org for more information.

PATRIOT’S DAY 2013

Patriot’s Day Weekend had been going so well.  Old North had opened a colonial chocolate shop on Saturday to rave reviews and large crowds.  Our Annual Lantern Ceremony on Sunday was virtually flawless.  Dr. Jill Lepore’s keynote speech about Benjamin Franklin’s sister, Jane, who lived directly behind the church, was spot on.

Early Monday morning, I marched in a Patriot’s Day parade from City Hall, laying wreathes at the tombs of Paul Revere and William Dawes, before marching over to the statue of Paul Revere to bless the horse of a modern day re-enactor who then rode off to Lexington.  In hindsight my conversations with t local politicians seemed rather mundane.  We compared the race to elect a mayor with our own race to elect a new bishop.  We talked about coordinating school bus and tour bus parking in front of a new neighborhood elementary school to be established in what was formerly Mitt Romney’s headquarters.

After a couple of hours of construction planning at church, I walked home to take a nap, only to be summoned by a parishioner who was near the finish line when the bombs went off.  Shortly thereafter the National Park Service asked Old North to close down early as a security precaution, which we did.

Into the evening I was contacting family and friends to let them know our family was fine.  At the same time I was reaching out to other clergy in the Boston Harbor Deanery to offer prayers and support.  A priest from Trinity, Copley Square, adjacent to the finish line, assured me their church was fine as was the Trinity team of fundraising runners in the marathon.  One of our hospital chaplains reported on the stress in the emergency room of her hospital and the deep appreciation of all involved for the outpouring of prayer.

We opened the church as usual for tours on Tuesday and a greeting visitors who are more interested in prayer than in the story of Paul Revere.  As they enter, they will see a makeshift memorial and prayer for the victims of the tragedy.

Boston Marathon Prayer

Meanwhile, outside the church, we are beginning to erect scaffolding so we can paint our steeple.  The steeple where two lanterns were courageously hung two hundred and thirty eight years ago.  The steeple that gave birth to Patriot’s Day and the tradition of the Boston Marathon.  Assaults on our freedom cut deeply here at Old North Church.  We will be keeping our lanterns lit and facing the Boston Marathon finish line to honor the innocent victims.

A PRAYER FOR THE BOSTON MARATHON VICTIMS

O Lord our Governor, whose glory is in all the world: We
 commend this city to your merciful care, that, being guided
by your Providence, we may dwell secure in peace. We pray for those who have lost life or limb in the Boston Marathon attacks.  Accept those who have died into your loving arms.  Protect those who are wounded with your compassionate care.  Strengthen their doctors and nurses with your healing love.  Comfort their family and friends with a sense of hope. And restore to our city, nation, and world, a sense of sanity and security, that all forms of terrorism may cease. Amen.

Skype Interviews Redux

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Check out this current reflection on Skype interviews over at Episcopal Café which borrows heavily from The Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein aka Peace Bang of Beauty Tips for Ministers

http://www.episcopalcafe.com/lead/clergy/interviewing_by_skype.html#more

I have only experienced on Skype interview, having by and large gotten out of the looking for a new call stage of life.  My only observation is that it is a technologically one-sided process.  The interviewing committee will get an up close and personal image of the clergy person, necessitating attention to nose hairs among other things.  The clergy person, on the other hand, gets to see a large committee sitting around one camera.  They appear as dots on the interviewee’s screen. Its hard to read their body language, let alone see any stray hairs.

Discernment Doctor Workshop

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The Massachusetts Episcopal Clergy Association is sponsoring a Discernment Doctor Workshop on May 1 at Trinity Church in Stoughton, MA, a suburb southwest of Boston, easily accessible from I-95 and Route 24. See the attached flyer for registration information. Clergy from outside of the Diocese of Massachusetts are welcome.

The workshop is entitled, “Preparing your Portfolio” and will delve into the mysteries of the OTM Portfolio. My question for you, good readers, is what other topics would you like to see covered in a discernment workshop that runs five hours, including lunch and coffee breaks? I cannot cover all the topics covered in this blog in that period. What parts of the discernment process would you like help with?

workshop-flyer-6.pdf

Differences Across the Pond

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A blog follower from Great Britain recently wrote:

Your website and blogs have been a great help, given my ignorance of the transition process in the Episcopal Church. Even for a senior appointment here, it usually only takes about seven weeks from the application deadline to a decision!

Seven weeks!  A full rector search stateside lasts from twelve to eighteen months.  I wonder which process yields the better results.

I wonder how the English church fares without a lengthy interim process.  We Yanks, particularly in the most brilliant Commonwealth of Massachusetts, assume that our way is the best way.  Has anyone thought of comparing deployment systems?  How about some rigorous field testing of the elaborate interim ministry theory that has evolved over the last thirty years?

BTW, I’ll be leading a workshop on the OTM Portfolio on May 1 from 10 until 3 at Trinity Church, Stoughton, MA.   While MECA is sponsoring the workshop, I am sure they will welcome clergy from other dioceses.  More information to follow.