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Figure 4 shows the collective number of people and the percentage of the average weekly attendees engaged in externally focused ministry from 2003 to 2006. Group 2 churches more than doubled the numbers of attendees between 2003 and 2006 and by 2006 more than doubled congregational participation in externally focused ministry.
Figure 5 shows the total number of hours served each year by Group 2 churches. By 2006 Group 2 churches had nearly tripled the hours of volunteer service and ministry to the community.
Table 4 represents the dollar value of volunteer hours of Group 2 engaged in community ministry.
Group 3 EFCLC, Group 3 consists of 11 churches with a collective weekend attendance of 21,277; an average weekend attendance of 1,934; and a median weekend attendance of 1,800. The average age of the participating churches is 42.2 years, with the median age of the church being 26 years. The first EFCLC gathering was held April 5-7, 2005 and the last gathering was held October 10-12, 2006.
The results of the EFCLC, Group 3 are summarized in Table 5, 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 6 shows the collective number of people and the percentage of the average weekly attendees engaged in externally focused ministry from 2003 to 2006. Group 2 churches more than doubled the numbers of attendees between 2003 and 2006 and by 2006 more than doubled congregational participation in externally focused ministry.
Figure 7 shows the total number of hours served each year by Group 3 churches. By 2006 Group 2 churches had increased the hours of volunteer service and ministry to the community by 278 percent.
Table 6 represents the dollar value of volunteer hours of Group 3 engaged in community ministry.
Groups 1-3 EFCLC, Group 1-3, in aggregate, consists of 33 churches with a collective weekend attendance of 75,329; an average weekend attendance of 2,282; and a median weekend attendance of 1,200. The average age of the participating churches is 43.1 years, with the median age of the church being 29.5 years.
The results of the EFCLC, Groups 1-3 are summarized in Table 7, 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. It is interesting to note that although both the number of people who served and the total hours they served more than doubled, the average amount of hours people served did not increase significantly (14 percent).
Assumes that the 2003 data for EFCLC Group 3 is equivalent to the 2004 data.
Figure 8 shows the collective number of people and the percentage of the average weekly attendees engaged in externally focused ministry from 2003 to 2006. The three groups of churches more than doubled the numbers of volunteers between 2003 and 2006 and by 2006 more than doubled congregational participation in externally focused ministry.
* Assumes that the 2003 data for EFCLC Group 3 is equivalent to the 2004 data.
Grand Total of Hours Served = 3,463,003 Figure 9 shows the total number of hours served each year by Group 1-3 churches. By 2006 Group 1-3 churches had increased the hours of volunteer service and ministry to the community by nearly two and a half times with an even higher amount in 2005.
James McGregor Burns points out that “[l]eadership brings about real change that leaders intend….”5 Effectiveness, then, can be measured by comparing actual outcomes against desired (intended) outcomes as expressed in the goals that EFCLC leaders set a the beginning of the EFCLC process. Collectively, the average goal for the participating churches was to have 56 percent of their average weekly attendees involved in externally focused ministry. Collectively these churches obtained a 45 percent involvement, meaning they were 79 percent effective in reaching their desired outcome. It is important at this juncture, however, to note that churches were encouraged to think big in the setting of “stretch goals” for their desired outcomes.
Effectiveness can also be evaluated by comparing actual outcomes against baseline data. Looking at the results of the data one can conclude that participating EFCLC churches more than doubled the number of church volunteers deployed in ministry and service to the community (from 15, 560 volunteers in 2003 to 33,668 volunteers in 2006). Additionally they more than doubled the number of hours each church gave in service to the community (from 466,866 in 2003 to 1,151,860 hours in 2006). The financial impact of their volunteer hours grew from $8,025,427 in 2003 to $21,309,410 in 2006. Cumulatively, over the three year period, these thirty-three churches gave more than sixty-two million dollars in volunteer ministry and service to the community.
EFCLC Gatherings Each of the three EFCLC groups met four times over an eighteen month period.
Each gathering began roughly at noon on a Tuesday and ended roughly at noon on Thursday. Each gathering is designed by the LC Director and the facilitator who will lead the gathering. The content of the forty-eight hour gathering follows a progressing pattern of three realities: “What is, What could be, and What will be.” To explore and develop each of these three scenarios, the facilitator guides participants through a series of creative exercises designed to accelerate the innovative process.
Participants began each gathering with lunch followed by a welcome and orientation. Each church then presented a brief (three to five minutes) report on “what is working, their greatest success, what is stuck, and their biggest surprise.” This exercise establishes “what is,” and is designed to bring other participants up to date on progress each church is making.
To create “what could be” scenarios, the facilitator guides participants, usually in cross-functional teams, through a series of creative readings, videos, model creation, etc.
to help participants think of ministry solutions in ways they’ve never before considered.
It is during this time when breakthrough ideas usually surface.
The remainder of the gathering (usually beginning after lunch on the second day) is spent with church teams working on “what will be” through strategic planning or work on their six-month “Action Learning Plan.” Each session ends with a brief report-out by each church declaring what progress they want to make in the coming six months.
To facilitate relational connections with other churches, participants worked in cross functional teams, shared six meals together and frequently connected with each other via email, phone, or site visits between each gathering.
Zoomerang Survey Following each gathering a Zoomerang survey was sent to each participant asking for feedback on the gathering. The survey was designed to measure the effectiveness of the individual components of the LC gathering. The survey was completed by 231 people with a fairly equal representation from each LC Group (Group 1—seventy-seven; Group 2—seventy-five; Group 3—seventy-nine).
This project includes the twelve most salient questions and responses of the survey.6 Questions that related to “quality of meals,” “current opportunities and For the sake of clarity and to avoid confusion with question numbers, I have truncated the Zoomerang Survey and changed the question numbers to show twelve questions (with Question 10 having parts “a” and “b”).
challenges,” etc. are not included because the findings are not immediately germane to the scope of this project. For the first nine questions participants were asked to select their answers from three possibilities: (1) “Did not meet expectations,” (2) “Met expectations,” and (3) “Exceeded expectations.” The areas of evaluation along with the answers are found in Figures 10-18. The answer to Question 10 contained two parts (10a and 10b). Question10a asked for a forced choice (“yes” or “no”) answer. The qualitative answers for Question 10b, which asked participants to identify how their vision or direction was accelerated as a result of the gathering, were coded in agreement with methodologies associated with grounded theory and displayed in a pie chart (Figure 20).
The qualitative answers to Question 11, “What contributed most to your experience at this gathering?” were also coded according to the same methodology and placed in a bar graph (Table 10). The answers to Question 12 were taken from the 2006 yearly questionnaire mentioned in the first paragraph of this chapter. I felt it was important to include these findings in this section because the answers pertain to quality and outcomes of the LC experience. As with earlier qualitative data, relevant text was entered into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and assigned a theoretical construct after initial ideas and themes were identified.
Figure 19. Q.
10a “Was the vision or direction for external focus in your church changed / accelerated as a result of this gathering? Yes / No”
Summary of Quantitative Information A summary of the combined data, using two different display formats, for the
various components of EFCLC groups 1-3 gatherings are summed up below:
Ninety-four percent of the participants indicated the LC gathering experience met or exceeded their expectations with 55 percent indicating that the overall LC gathering experience exceeded the expectation. This data is encouraging since most participants enter each gathering with very high expectations.
Figure 20. Q.
10b “Was the vision or direction for external focus in your church changed / accelerated as a result of this gathering? If so, how?”
Thirty-four percent of the churches who provided an answer to Question 10b indicated that their church’s vision had changed or accelerated through coming away with a clearer vision or sharper, narrower focus regarding what they were to do. Nearly a third of the churches (30 percent) indicated that it was the concrete ideas or program that added most to accelerating their vision or direction. Twenty-two percent of the responding churches submitted answers to indicate that the gatherings affirmed the direction and approach they were committed to.
Collaboration was the most cited as the factor that contributed most to the participant’s experience at the LC gatherings. They were anxious to mix with and learn from other like-minded participants during these interactive sessions. The content presenter (speaker) was cited as the next highest contributor to the LC gathering experience. Most speakers were limited to two hours of content delivery over the fortyeight hour gathering, but also usually served as “consultant in residence.” Participants were able to glean heavily from these diverse thought-leaders. Time with one’s own church teams came next in order. Many leaders said things like, “Even though we have offices down the hall from each other, we’ve never had concentrated time like this to dream and plan.” The creative process was cited next followed by idea generation.
Effectiveness of LC Gatherings in Accelerating the Deployment of Volunteers Looking at the results of the data one can conclude that leaders from participating EFCLC churches valued and benefited from the EFCLC gathering experience. Eightyfive percent of participants indicated that the EFCLC gatherings accelerated their externally focused vision or direction and 94 percent said the gatherings met or exceeded their expectations.
All of the answers to this question, after coding, fell into four themes. Capturing the highest number of responses was LCs serving as a “catalyst to the vision and engagement of the church in externally focused ministry.” A typical answer that fell into
this category comes from Cornwall Church in Bellingham, Washington:
The LC was the catalyst in where our organization now lies. The outreach ministries that once were under Cornwall Church have now evolved into Rebound of Whatcom County. Rebound is a nonprofit faith-based social service agency that caters to the atrisk community. We actually were initially modeling ourselves after Andy Bales and the Lake Avenue Community Foundation whom we met at the leadership community gatherings.
The second most cited answer pertained to the value of “goal setting and
planning.” From Rolling Hills Community Church in Tualatin, Oregon, comes this story:
We have a new awareness of our mission in the community, and the impact we can have with our good deeds. We have developed and are implementing a community service strategic plan with measurable objectives. This plan includes equipping our people to look for opportunities to communicate the Good News as they serve, and to date we have over 600 recorded spiritual conversations that have taken place in our community.
Both “networking with other churches” and “practical skills” garnered eighteen percent of the responses. On the value of networking, Mariners Church in Irvine, California, responded, “The greatest value would be in allowing us to hear and see so many approaches to reaching our community. It produced more creative approaches for us.” On the value of obtaining practical skills West Conroe Baptist Church in Houston,