Positive deviance is an asset-based approach used to address many social challenges. It has been used in third world countries. It has been employed by those trying to solve United States inner city issues. What would it look like applied to a congregational setting? This article tells the story of seven congregations in Indiana using positive deviance to improve their relationships with strangers (and neighbors) with social service needs. Many congregations report dissatisfaction with helping those who call or walk in the building seeking assistance. The dissatisfaction includes “We just don’t have time,” or, “It never feels like we do any good.” Using positive deviance the congregations in this observational study discovered new behaviors. These new behaviors enhanced their relationships. New friendships were forged. Needs were met. In addition to telling the story of this project, this report describes the positive deviance approach. The report also offers ideas about how positive deviance might be adapted to help your congregation solve challenging problems other than the one studied.
Curated by Tim Shapiro