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The Application The application was the tool that provided baseline data for the study. The baseline data was collected to obtain the “starting point” for each church. To provide the common language to provide for accurate common measurement, the following definition was included in introduction to the application: “Externally focused ministry is that ministry which is done outside of the church building. Such ministries would include your own externally focused ministries, partnerships with parachurch organizations, partnerships with human service agencies, etc.” The application also included the following questions that were designed to assess the quality and readiness of the applying church.
1. Background information a. Brief history of church / externally focused ministry b. Weekly Worship Attendance
2. External Ministry Descriptions a. What externally focused ministries is your church engaged in b. Percentage of congregation involved in external ministry (in the twelve months)
3. What do you consider to be the strengths of your current approach(es)?
4. What do you consider to be the challenges of your current approach(es)?
5. Opportunities for the future a. What are your untapped areas for involvement, growth or impact in the next three years?
b. If you were sitting here three years from now, what would need to happen to make you satisfied with your progress?
6. Why are you interested in participating in this Externally Focused LC? (Author’s note: The answer to this question was useful in determining what LC participants had in common)
7. What resources are you aware of that, if accessible, would accelerate your work?
8. Who will participate in the LC? What is their ministry involvement, position or title?
(List the 3-5 most likely participants) The information from each church was extracted from the application and transferred to a one-page document for each participating church that would serve as a helpful “at-a-glance” reference for each church. One hundred percent of the participating churches submitted applications.
Kingdom Impact Reports At the end of each calendar year I sent an email to every team leader from each participating church to respond to a brief questionnaire (see Appendix 1). The answers to two questions were used to tabulate the relevant quantitative information.
1. In this past year how many people from your church were engaged in ministry /
2. How many hours did each person serve? ______ Four open-ended questions were used to extract the qualitative information I was looking
1. Major externally focused accomplishments of the past year
2. A four-sentence story of one person who was touched through one of your
3. Multiplying effects: if your church held any type of teaching event with other churches or leaders around externally focused ministry please write down, what,
Both the quantitative and qualitative questions were designed and formulated to discover the answers to the questions that I was seeking to answer in the formal thesis proposal.
This data was collected, reformatted and placed into LN’s Kingdom Impact Report (See sample pages in Appendix 2). For the sake of simplicity, I will use 2006 data since, in my opinion, it is most representative of the effects of involvement in the EFCLC. Qualitative data will be coded and summarized. Of the thirty-three participating churches, thirty of them (90.9 percent) submitted the required quantitative and qualitative information we asked from them.
Zoomerang Surveys Following each LC gathering, each LC participant was sent an email thanking him or her for his or her participation at the gathering, giving details of the next gathering, and asking for a response to a short on line survey administered through an online survey company called Zoomerang. The email also outlined the purpose of the survey, the approximate amount of time it would take to complete the survey, and a deadline for completing the survey. In most cases a second email was sent encouraging participants to complete the survey. Because my administrative assistant and I pressed the churches hard for end of year data, resulting in 90.9% compliance, we did not overly press compliance for this survey so the Zoomerang Survey had to be treated as a Volunteer Sample Survey where participants choose or not choose to participate.
Although nearly all post-gathering Zoomerang Surveys from each of the twelve gatherings differed somewhat in their specific content, there were ten questions that remained consistent and were necessary to the success of this project. For obtaining quantitative data I chose to use the “directive questionnaire” approach that “leads respondents to answer in specific ways by limiting the range of responses available to them.”2 The author rejected using “”nondirective questionnaires” and open questions” since the latter measurement techniques are primarily used to provide the researcher with qualitative data, while the focus of this study was primarily on quantitative data. To extract the best data from the answers I chose to use a three-answer, Likert-type scale to quantify the answers since [q]uantitative measures generally increase reliability because they are structured more formally than qualitative measures. Highly directive questionnaires and interviews, for example, follow the same format in asking questions and provide respondents with the same response categories every time they are used, which increases the likelihood that people will respond consistently.3 What I wanted to know was whether the different aspect of the gathering (1) Did not meet the participant’s expectations, (2) Met the participant’s expectation, or (3) Exceeded the participant’s expectations. Giving one of these three answers, each participant was
asked to evaluate:
1. Overall experience
2. Useful contacts/networking
3. Overall pace of the gathering
4. Take home value of the gathering
5. Idea generation Lawrence R. Frey, Carl H. Botan, Paul G. Friedman, and Gary L Kreps, Investigating Communication: An Introduction to Research Methods, (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1991), 109.
6. Process time with your team
7. Usefulness of content / presenter
8. Strategic planning and viable work plan
9. Location of gathering For one of the questions I used closed question (simple “yes” or “no”) format to determine whether or not “the vision or direction for external focus in [the participant’s] church changed / accelerated as a result of [the] gathering?” This question was followed by the opportunity to give a qualitative answer: “If so, how?” Since “Qualitative research is research that involves analyzing and interpreting texts…in order to discover meaningful patterns descriptive of a particular phenomenon,”4 these answers were then coded and placed in charts. The answers to the final question, “What contributed most to your experience at this gathering?” were also coded and placed in a bar graph.
Compliance in filling out the Zoomerang survey was more difficult but the respondents were sufficient to produce reliable data on the individual gatherings. Of the 479 participants who were invited to take Zoomerang surveys (several people attended multiple events), 231 Zoomerang surveys were filled out following each of the twelve gatherings resulting in 48.2 percent compliance, comparing surveys that were completed compared to the total surveys that could be filled out. The Zoomerang proved to be a very helpful data collection and analysis tool.
In analyzing the data I am seeking to discover the correlation between the LC Process and the acceleration of the deployment of church volunteers in ministry and Auerbach, 3.
service to the community. Because “[a] statistical relationship between two variables is referred to as a correlation”5 I will analyze the 2006 numbers of people deployed in service along with the hours they served against the baseline data of 2003. Using data from the U.S. Department of Labor on the value of volunteer service, I will also calculate the increased economic value of community engagement. Additionally, I will analyze the efficacy of the LC gatherings as well, measuring the satisfaction with the process as well as the value of the LC gatherings in accelerating the church’s externally focused engagement.
In addition to the quantitative analysis of the statistical data I will employ grounded theory for coding and interpreting the qualitative information. The author considers the quantitative information sufficient for answering the research question but also wants to note valuable information that came to light from the qualitative findings.
Through discovering repeating ideas and repeating themes that lead to theoretical constructs and a theoretical narrative I hope to make sense of the qualitative data as the data pertains to the efficacy of the LC process.
Because the LCs began convening as early as November 2003, it must be noted that there may be confounding variables that influenced outcomes. Such variables would include other conferences participants may have attended, books and literature attendees may have read, and conversation participants had with influential individuals. Although it could be argued that these participants may not have attended said conferences, read such
literature, or had such conversations had they not been part of an LC, these variables must be acknowledged nonetheless.
It has been said that not everything that counts can be measured, and not everything that can be measured counts. I move forward with the expectation that I am measuring the things that count in accelerating the engagement of volunteers into the community so that processes and results can be replicated or can spawn future learning.
This chapter provides a description of the research findings of the project as well as an evaluation of the effectiveness of the LC process in accelerating the deployment of church volunteers in ministry and service to the community. This chapter is divided into three sections. The first section contains the research findings nominally measured from the quantitative data taken from a questionnaire, sent yearly to each participating church.
This questionnaire is the instrument used to measure the progress and results of EFCLCs in deploying church volunteers in ministry and service to the community.
The second section contains the research findings taken from the Zoomerang questionnaires that participants were asked to complete following each LC gathering. The Zoomerang questionnaire is the instrument employed to measure the effectiveness of the individual components of the LC gathering itself in accelerating the deployment of said volunteers.
The third section of the chapter titled “Other Findings” details other relevant discoveries including church accomplishments, impact stories, and multiplying effects from the remaining qualitative material.
Group 1 EFCLC, Group 1 consists of thirteen churches with a collective weekend attendance of 44,670; an average weekend attendance of 3,436; and a median weekend attendance: 3,100. The average age of the participating churches is 52.6 years, with the median age of the church being forty years. The first EFCLC gathering was held November 4-6, 2003, and the last gathering was held May 3-5, 2005.
The results of the EFCLC, Group 2 are summarized in Table 1, showing the cumulative totals of numbers of church volunteers serving in externally focused ministry, the number of hours those people served and the average number of hours people served in a given year.
Figure 2 shows the collective number of people and the percentage of the average weekly attendees engaged in externally focused ministry from 2003 to 2006. Group 1 churches more than doubled the numbers of attendees between 2003 and 2006 and by 2006 had nearly doubled congregational participation in externally focused ministry.
Figure 3 shows the total number of hours served each year by Group 1 churches. By 2006 Group 1 churches had more than doubled the hours of volunteer service and ministry to the community.
Table 2 represents the dollar value of volunteer hours of Group 1 engaged in community ministry. The value of volunteer time is based on the average hourly earnings of all production and nonsupervisory workers on private nonfarm payrolls (as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics). Independent Sector takes this figure and increases it by 12 percent to estimate for fringe benefits.2 The same value of volunteer time will also be applied to Groups 2 and 3 as well as to the cumulative totals.
Group 2 EFCLC, Group 2 consists of nine churches with a collective weekend attendance of 9,382; an average weekend attendance of 1,042; and a median weekend attendance of Value of Volunteer Time; available from http://www.independentsector.org/programs/research/volunteer_time.html; Internet;
accessed April 24, 2007.
917. The average age of the participating churches is 42.2 years, with the median age of the church being 43 years. The first EFCLC gathering was held March 2-4, 2004 and the last gathering was held August 30-September 1, 2005.
The results of the EFCLC, Group 2 are summarized in Table 3, showing the cumulative totals of numbers of church volunteers serving in externally focused ministry, the number of hours those people served and the average number of hours people served in a given year.