How to encourage 'Holy Habits' as an outworking of Appreciative Inquiry

Holy Habits is a discipleship resource designed to help nurture and form followers of Jesus.

Christian disciples who, when they gather as Church and go to wherever God calls them to be -  at home, at work, in the community and in the wider world – live out their discipleship in an adventurous, Christlike way.

Holy Habits is based on Acts 2.42-47, Luke’s cameo portrait of the early church. A ‘delightful’ portrait according to John Stott and a deliberate presentation of a model Christian community according to the biblical commentator C.K. Barrett. It is, according to Professor James Dunn, a picture we see re-emerging whenever the Holy Spirit renews the Church in mission and discipleship. The comments of these commentators capture the positive principle of Appreciative Inquiry (AI).

So what might happen if we intentionally sought the Spirit’s help to see this picture re-emerge in our day?

That is the question that sparked Holy Habits. It is an AI type of question.

At the heart of the Acts passage is a favourite phrase of Luke’s ‘signs and wonders’. Holy Habits suggests a Christian community living life as portrayed in Acts 2.42-47 as a powerful sign of God’s presence and a wonder of God’s grace. It agrees with David Watson that it is not actually a surprise when ‘The Lord adds to the number daily’ when discipleship is lived out through the habits Luke describes. Here again we have an element of AI – the poetic principle, that what we focus on grows.

The Holy Habits Resources

The book Holy Habits was published in January 2016 and is selling strongly. In line with the AI constructionist principle, the words of the book are opening up worlds of possibility for a wide range of readers. It is written by Andrew Roberts who works as a Discipleship specialist for the Methodist Church.

The book is in two parts. The first part explores the nature and origins of Christian discipleship and includes chapters on the call of the first disciples, the aims of discipleship, the place of suffering and signs and wonders. The second part introduces the holy habits, has a chapter on holy habitats (communities and relationships), a chapter on each of the ten habits and a final visionary chapter entitled Dare to Dream.

The ten habits are:

  • Biblical teaching
  • Fellowship
  • Breaking of bread
  • Prayer
  • Giving
  • Service
  • Eating together
  • Gladness and generosity
  • Worship
  • Making more disciples.

At the end of each chapter there are suggestions for further reflection and action that can be used individually or by smaller or larger Christian communities. There is also a biblical passage to reflect upon and suggestions for further reading. There is a full and detailed bibliography at the end of the book.

The book was written with individual and small group usage in mind – and hundreds are using it in this way, inquiring into the holy habits and seeing what changes intentionally refreshing them may bring (The Simultaneity principle of AI). Many churches and groups of churches have also chosen to ‘adopt’ the book with several preaching series now being developed around the habits in particular. For those seeking to develop discipleship in Messy Church, Holy Habits provides an ideal framework to support intentional growth.

Work is underway to produce further resources to support those wanting to explore and more importantly, live out the holy habits. An all-age programme for use in worship, small groups and community/world engagement is planned for publication in the autumn of 2017. News on when these resources will be more widely available will be posted at the Holy Habits website.

How can you get the book?

Holy Habits is published by Malcolm Down Publishing and is available from Christian bookshops, online retailers or (post free) direct from the Author - Email holyhabits@btinternet.com. The RRP is £9.99. Discounts available for bulk orders.