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The people of Calvary Bible Church recognize that homelessness is not a disease; it simply describes a person’s relationship to permanent housing.
It’s interesting that the last thing the Samaritan offered was money (which he gave to the innkeeper). Much good can be done apart from money. Sometimes there is no substitute for hard cash. Cash is necessary to pay for medical expenses and heating bills.
SCRIPTURES CONCERNING GOOD WORKS AND GOOD DEEDSThe last set of Scriptures I want to look at comes from the New Testament’s admonitions and guidelines for believers to engage in doing good. Building on the foundation of Old Testament teaching, the example and teaching of Jesus, what are the Scriptural mandates for believers today? The New Testament is not short on commands live out one’s faith by doing good towards others. Loving God cannot be separated from loving one’s neighbor as our own selves (Matt. 22:37-39) and loving of neighbor can never be separated from love of God (1 John 4). Jesus inferred that good deeds would draw people into a relationship with God himself, “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).
Rather than attempting to address all the New Testament verses on good works or good deeds (cf. Col. 1:10, 2 Cor. 9:8, 2 Thes. 2:16-17, 1 Tim. 2:10, 1 Tim. 5:10, 1 Tim. 5:25, 1 Tim. 6:18, 2 Tim. 2:21, Heb. 13:20-21, Jam. 1:27, Jam. 2:14, Jam. 3:13, 1 Pet. 2:12), I want to explore one central verse along with several correlating passages. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:8-10).
Understanding this passage, in its totality, has proved critical and foundational in motivating believers towards external engagement. This passage is divided into two logical sections: how one is saved (Eph. 2:8-9) and why is saved (Eph. 2:10). One is saved by God’s grace (unmerited favor) that is appropriated “through faith”—when one trusts him for his or her salvation. This transaction is totally apart from any work or good thing one does to merit salvation. But the second part of the verse (v. 10) says that each believer is God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for a purpose—to do good works, which were prepared by God in advance for every individual to engage in. These concepts can be illustrated in ways that seem to be helpful when explaining to others.
In the seventeenth century, French philosopher, mathematician, and physicist penned these oft-quoted words, "There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ.”15 He was right. As a physicist he knew something about vacuums, but it doesn’t take a scientist to know what a vacuum feels like. God has created a place in every heart for himself and one will always feel a sense of incompleteness or emptiness until God takes his rightful place. No accomplishment, achievement, fortune, or fame can fill that void. He created a space where he alone can dwell.
When one receives salvation, as God’s free gift, as expressed in Eph. 2:8-9, the God-shaped vacuum is filled. One receives all of God that one is ever going to get, but Blaise Pascal Quotes; available from http://en.thinkexist.com/quotation/there_is_a_god_shaped_vacuum_in_the_heart_of/16642
5.html; Internet; accessed March 15, 2007.
there is another vacuum in our lives that is just as real; and it comes from the verse that follows. Paul suggests there is also a “purpose-shaped” vacuum. The passage says, “We are God’s workmanship…”(Eph. 2:10). He has individually created every person exactly according to his specification and design. He has also created every believer “to do good works, which [he] prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:10). Because God has prepared these good works in advance, this preparatory work creates a vacuum for believers, not to invent, but to step into and discover. Unlike the God-shaped vacuum where “one size fits all,” the purpose-shaped vacuum is individual and is found at the intersection of the way God has made an individual and what God wants to accomplish in this world through that individual. God has designed Christ-followers with a predisposed passion to co-labor with him in doing what he wants done.
Every major resource that God has given to believers has been given, not just to be someone but to do something good and purposeful in the world.
1. God gives leaders to prepare his people for good works. Paul said, “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…” (Eph. 4:11-12).
2. God gives his Word to equip his people for good works. “All Scripture is Godbreathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good
3. God gives to the body of Christ other Christians to spur his people on toward good works. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and
4. And last, God gives spiritual gifts to enable his people to do good works. “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms” (1 Pet. 4:10).
Christians are created in Christ Jesus to do good works; God gives them leaders to prepare them for those good works, his Word to equip them for those good works, spiritual gifts to enable them to do good works, and one another to spur them on toward good works. Paul’s words in Ephesians. 2:8-10 applies to every believer. All who have experienced Ephesians 2:8-9, should also be experiencing Ephesians 2:10. God has prepared “good works in advance” for everyone “created in Christ Jesus.” Most pastors, missionaries and vocational Christian workers will say that frequently they experience the intersection of their passions with God’s purpose where they feel fully alive. So either a person believes that this intersection is reserved only for those who have “surrendered to vocational Christian service” or it can and should be the normative experience for every believer. I believe the latter to be true.
The Scriptures pertaining to ministry to those people on the margins form a foundation for externally focused ministry and provide the weight of evidence to suggest that ministry beyond the walls of the church should be a defining element of what Christfollowers do. Catholics use a word to define the place of good deeds that those in the Protestant world might find quite foreign. The word is constitutive. Constitutive elements of the Christian life are those practices that essentially define the Christian faith and without which there would be no Christianity. This study of Scripture leads me to personally conclude that good deeds, expressed through loving one’s neighbor must be constitutive to the faith and life of every Christ-follower.
This chapter details the research methods used to assess and evaluate the transformational effectiveness of LCs in deploying church volunteers in ministry and service to the community. This chapter will present an overview of the participants in the sample, the process and methods used to collect data from the participants, and the process used to evaluate the results.
The participants of the study are the leaders from thirty-three churches who participated in the three LCs. These leaders and churches form a non-random, convenience sampling of churches that were chosen based on their interest in and qualification for an LC for Externally Focused Churches. The author personally visited or had extensive phone conversations with the leaders of approximately 100 churches and extended invitations to approximately 80 of these same churches. The thirty-three churches in the study were those who accepted the invitation, filled out the required application and paid the registration fee. I am confident that this was the best sampling method available, given the parameters of an LC.
These 33 churches come from a variety of geographic locations in the United States with a fairly strong representation from each geographic region. The churches age in range from 125 years down to 3 years with average church age of 43.1 years and a median church age of 29.5 years. The collective weekend attendance of all 33 churches is 75,329 people with an average weekend attendance of 2,282 and a median weekend attendance of 1,200. The range of weekend attendance for all churches is 65 to 7,500.
Fifteen churches have an average weekend attendance of over 2,000. Seven of the team had female team leaders while twenty-six of the teams were led by males. The racial make-up of participants was predominantly Anglo. An average of 10.8 people from each church participated in at least one of the four gatherings. Of the thirty-three teams, seven teams were led by senior pastors, twenty-four teams were lead by a church staff member, and two teams were led by lay persons. Twenty-nine churches convene in their own buildings while three churches convene in rented facilities. Because the way of measuring “externally focused” budget varies so much from church to church, with some churches counting only dollars, while other churches including staff salaries and office expenditures, no attempt to quantify budgets was attempted.
Each church was selected to be a part of an LC by means of an application process which will be explained under the subheading of Procedures. The following is a list of the participating churches along with each of the three group’s attendance figures and age.
Group One Collective Weekly Attendance: 44,670 Average Weekend Attendance: 3,436 Median Weekend Attendance: 3,100 Average Age of Church: 52.6 years Median Age of Church: 40 years
1. Cornwall Church—Bellingham, Washington
2. Creekside Community Church—San Leandro, California
3. Fellowship Bible Church—Little Rock, Arkansas
4. Grace Brethren Church—Long Beach, California
5. Greenwood Community Church—Greenwood Village, Colorado
6. Hope Presbyterian Church—Cordova, Tennessee
7. Lake Avenue Church—Pasadena, California
8. LifeBridge Christian Church—Longmont, Colorado
9. Mariners Church—Irvine, California
10. Northland, A Church Distributed—Longwood, Florida
11. Perimeter Church—Duluth, Georgia
12. The River Church Community—San Jose, California Group Two Collective Weekly Attendance: 9,382 Average Weekend Attendance: 1,042 Median Weekend Attendance: 917 Average Age of Church: 42.2 years Median Age of Church: 43 years
1. Calvary Baptist Church—State College, Pennsylvania
2. Calvary Bible Evangelical Free Church—Boulder, Colorado
3. Christ Community Church—Omaha, Nebraska
4. Crosswalk Community United Methodist Church—York, Pennsylvania
5. Faith Reformed Church—Traverse City, Michigan
6. Hempfield United Methodist Church—Lancaster, Pennsylvania
7. Imago Dei Community—Portland, Oregon
8. New Song Community Church—Oceanside, California
9. Fellowship at Cinco Ranch—Katy, Texas Group Three Collective Weekly Attendance: 21,277 Average Weekend Attendance: 1,934 Median Weekend Attendance: 1,800 Average Age of Church: 42.2 years Median Age of Church: 26 years
1. Christian Life Center—Tinley Park, Illinois
2. Crossroads Christian Church—Lexington, Kentucky
3. Faith Lutheran Church—Golden, Colorado
4. First Baptist Church—Elk Grove, California
5. Hope Church—Oakdale, Minnesota
6. Rolling Hills Community Church—Tualatin, Oregon
7. Southbrook Christian Church—Centerville, Ohio
8. University Baptist Church—Houston, Texas
9. West Conroe Baptist Church—Conroe, Texas
10. Word of Grace—Mesa, Arizona
The research methods for this study will be based on quantitative and qualitative research methods. In addition to the collection and analysis of the quantitative data (the author’s primary data source), I will also collate, analyze, and attempt to interpret the answers to the salient open-ended questions “in order to discover meaningful patterns descriptive of a particular phenomenon.”1 Data Points Three data points were used to obtain accurate data needed to evaluate the effectiveness of the LC process (the independent variable) in accelerating the deployment of church volunteers in ministry and service to the community (number of church volunteers engaging in the community being the dependent variable).
The first data point comes from the initial application form that was sent to potential participating churches. The second data point comes from yearly quantitative and qualitative information collected from each participating church at the end of each calendar year. The third data point came from an online survey administered by a company called Zoomerang that was sent to every participant following each LC gathering.
Although different data points could have been created and selected, I chose to use these three data points for two reasons. First, I designed the questions for the application, the yearly survey and the post-gathering Zoomerang based on information I was seeking for my dissertation. Secondly, this information coincided with the Carl F. Auerbach & Louise B. Silverstein, Qualitative Data: An Introduction to Coding and Analysis, (New York: New York University Press, 2003), 3.
information the sponsoring organization, LN, was also seeking in measuring the effectiveness of the LC process as well as ways to improve each LC gathering. The Zoomerang was chosen specifically because of its ease of distribution and data collection.