The research had been done as a qualitative study using Thematic Analysis. Semi-structured interviews were used to obtain the data.
The study findings had indicated that the Appreciative Inquiry model has the potential to elevate the change conversation to a higher level where resistance and cautiousness no longer have the final say in determining members’ reactions to the change in strategic focus. The change conversation began to focus on themes such as purpose, opportunities and continuity. Interviewees had experienced that discovery of the Positive Core of the congregation had indeed helped them to embrace the proposed changes rather than resist it.
To conclude the research project, the following recommendations have been made:
- There is a definite need for congregations to ensure that members know the Positive Core of their congregation. Members have to share their positive experiences of the past so as to inspire a next generation.
- Leaders of congregations have to focus on this Positive Core. They have to be aware of the achievements of the congregation. They need to be focused on organisational wisdom. Leaders have to ensure that the collective spirit, the vital traditions and alliances and partnerships are conserved and used in a new era. It will be these elements of the Positive Core that will ensure that a congregation remains relevant.
- Leaders of congregations have to ensure that the change conversation is conducted on the ‘higher level’ where purpose, opportunities and the role of the church are discussed. Change in congregations is too often discussed on the level of personal preferences.
- The leadership of a congregation would do well to have regular focus groups that discuss this Positive Core of the congregation. In this way they will ensure that the congregation remains ready for change because of the sense of purpose and a commitment to the values and beliefs of the congregation.
Hirsch (2006:53) has been quoted earlier in the study as saying that the track record of congregations in terms of change is rather poor. The researcher contends that this research study has shown that the Appreciative Inquiry model of change management has the potential to put this record straight.
It is up to leaders facilitating change interventions to do just this.