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Leadership Network created an opportunity for our church to clarify its passion for reaching our community for Christ. The process brings structure into our much unstructured environment. We know “what” to do; Leadership Network has provided the answers to “how.”
Though not directly germane to the research question I do want to make note of a few of the highlights, which may not typical of all participating churches, are exemplary of what externally focused churches can do.
Church Accomplishments In 2006 Mariners Church in Irvine, California, and participant in EFCLC Group 1
listed their externally focused accomplishments:
1. Katrina is an ongoing and in-depth response for us. We have collected more than $556,000.00 for Katrina relief and our teams have made 25-30 trips to date. We are partnering through a local church there. Our teams have become very committed and close.
2. A partnership has been created with several area churches called CDR-3 to be better prepared to respond to the next disaster.
3. We launched ministries focused on foster care and adoption.
4. We started a military ministry and sent 270 Christmas packages were shipped to Marines in Iraq.
5. In Mexico, we funded the building of 16 homes and one church. This building project was a totally “hands on” event.
Similarly Perimeter Church in Duluth, Georgia, (EFCLC, Group 1) wrote:
1. We are partnering with 51 organizations / ministries / public schools.
2. We have started / helped start the following ministries: Good Samaritan Health Center of Gwinnett, Home Repairs Ministry, Movers & Shakers.
3. We estimate that Perimeter volunteers have touched and blessed approximately 5,000 persons / families in the community this year.
4. Over the past 2 years, Perimeter has hosted the Children's Restoration Network Annual Easter Gala. This past March, we estimate 1,500 children in attendance.
5. On Saturday, Dec. 9, 2006 Perimeter hosted Bethany Christian Service's Annual Christmas Party for foster and adopted children throughout the state of Georgia.
There were 250 children in attendance. Total attendance was 500 including 40 volunteers from Perimeter.
6. Annually, Perimeter has church-wide drives for diapers, food, school supplies and blood. In 2006, Perimeter contributed: 500 bags of groceries, 225 pints of blood, 122 packages of diapers, and 85 filled school back packs.
7. There are nearly 50 lay leaders serving in Community Outreach mobilizing approximately 800 people in an ongoing basis, and 3,600 people annually.
8. 2,300 Perimeter volunteers in 2006 (up from 900 in 2003, 1,500 in 2004, and 1,900 in 2005).
9. We led 120 Perimeter service projects.
Impact Stories Because nothing has really changed until people are transformed, each church was asked to submit stories of individuals outside the church who were impacted by the participating church’s externally focused ministry. Again, though not germane to the research question, there is no doubt that lives have been impacted by externally focused ministry. Calvary Bible Church, Boulder, Colorado, (EFCLC, Group 2) submitted the
Fifteen months ago, Cliff stepped off a bus from Fresno and landed in Boulder. Some nights sleeping in the homeless shelter, and others sleeping in a local park, Cliff became a loyal attendee at Calvary Bible Church. After three weeks of attendance, he learned that Calvary would take a team of eight to do relief work through PRC Compassion in New Orleans. Cliff became the ninth. He continues to serve inside Calvary as a greeter, and outside Calvary in a men’s ministry team to single moms and their kids. Using his construction skills, he enjoys “extending the long arm of the Lord,” to God’s children in need. Cliff now lives comfortably in a local hostel and continues to be a voice of gratitude and faithfulness to church and Boulder community members alike.
Cornwall Church in Bellingham, Washington, submitted this story of life change:
Amanda is the mother of two young boys and is pregnant by rape with her third. The rape was committed by the father of the two boys. Amanda went into hiding, changed her name, her boys’ names and lived on the streets. She decided to start attending our CHAT group. CHAT (Creating Healthy Attitudes Together) is our support group for pregnant and parenting teens & young single moms. She was a proclaimed atheist but wanted to discover some sort of spirituality (Buddhism). She continued to attend CHAT for over a year before she decided that she needed to attend church. She has since given her life to the Lord and is quoted as saying, “without the support of CHAT and the girls in the group, I would be dead.” Multiplying Effects Leadership Network also encourages churches to diffuse what they have learned to other churches and the greater body of Christ. Each church was asked to submit a few lines on how they were multiplying their externally focused influence. Some churches began working with other churches in their communities, some church leaders spoke at conferences and workshops, other churches hosted externally focused events at their facilities. In May 2007 LifeBridge Christian Church in Longmont, Colorado, (EFCLC, Group 1) hosted the first annual Externally Focused Church Conference with nearly 600 participants from over 25 states in attendance. In 2006 Grace Brethren Church, Long Beach, California, (EFCLC, Group 1) helped begin an LC for Southern California churches that became Leadership Network’s EFCLC, Group 5. Likewise Perimeter Church in Duluth, Georgia, (EFCLC, Group 1) began an LC for externally focused churches for the greater Atlanta community beginning May 2007.
Conclusion The data analysis has been very encouraging. The thirty-three churches involved in the three EFCLCs have all made great progress in accelerating the deployment of church volunteers in ministry and service to the community. Furthermore they indicate that the EFCLC gatherings have been very helpful in helping them move forward. A further analysis, summary, implications and applications will follow in chapter seven.
The structure for this final chapter will be in four parts. The first part will contain an evaluation of the EFCLC project and process along with a summary of the principles learned through the project. The second part will focus on other applications to other ministry situations inside and outside of LN. The third part contains recommendations for churches that emerged from the research. It is these recommendations that will help shape the way churches think about and structure externally focused ministry. The forth part contains future research questions. Finally the fifth and last part will contain final conclusions.
Project Outcomes In answering the research question, “How effective is Leadership Network’s Leadership Community process in accelerating the deployment of church volunteers?” the research is quite conclusive. Measured in terms of ministry outcomes, the LC process is very effective in accelerating the deployment of church volunteers in service and ministry in the community. If indeed, “Leadership brings about real change that leaders intend”1 then transformational leadership theory has been validate in this study. As noted in chapter six, cumulatively the thirty-three churches increased the involvement of Burns, Leadership, 415.
volunteers from 21 percent of their average weekly attendees in 2003 to 45 percent of their average weekly attendees in 2006. Furthermore, they increased their hours of service from 466,866 hours in 2003 to 1,151,861 hours of service in 2006. The hours served in 2006 alone are the equivalent of 576 people working 40 hours a week for 50 weeks! The financial impact is equally impressive. The economic value of volunteer service increased from $8,025,427 in 2003 to $21,620,412 in 2006. The cumulative economic value of volunteers from these 33 churches serving in the community from 2003 to 2006 is a staggering $62,579,468. Personally, I am very proud of the way the church leaders led so effectively in mobilizing believers. They mirror James McGregor
Burn’s view of effective leaders:
For creativity to become leadership, however, conceptual transformation is not enough. As scientists must go beyond ‘revolutions on paper’ and put their ideas to the test in a struggle to win acceptance by their peers, all the more so must creative leadership. Leadership is a social phenomenon, and leaders are ‘intimately tied to other people and the effects of their actions on them.’ According to Wolin, the groundbreaking political theorists were motivated by ‘the ideal of an order subject to human control and one that could be transfigured through a combination of thought and action.’ They intended ‘not simply to alter the way men look at the world, but to alter the world.’2 These leaders, have indeed, altered the world—if only the world around them.
Project Process Measuring the effectiveness of the EFCLC gatherings as a means in accelerating the process is also quite conclusive. The research and feedback indicates that clients loved the process. Collectively 94 percent of participants communicated the LC gatherings “met” or “exceeded expectations” with 55 percent indicating that the “Overall LC Gathering Experience” (Figure 10) exceeded their expectation. A meaningful 94
percent of participants indicated the “Take-home Value” (Figure 13) of the gatherings met or exceeded their expectations. I view these statistics a good indicator of the value of the time invested at such gatherings.
Ninety-four percent of participants indicated that the “Usefulness of Contacts / Networking” (Figure 11) either met or exceeded expectations. Because LCs are built on the premise of mutual and peer learning, this indicator is particularly important.
Participants found other like-minded leaders with whom they could have further contact.
It was not unusual for church leaders to visit, email, or phone one another during the six month period between the gatherings. Leaders resourced leaders.
Eighty-nine percent of participants indicated that “Idea Generation” (Figure 14) at the gathering met or exceeded expectations with 47 percent indicating that their ideas generated exceeded their expectation. Ideally this is what LCs are about—the infusion of new ideas and approaches to externally focused ministry. Many creative approaches and tactics were discovered or iterated during the gatherings and then implemented upon returning to their respective churches.
Overall, participants were very satisfied with the “Process Time” (Figure 15) they had with their own church teams with 93 percent citing that this time met or exceeded their expectations. Team members would often make comments like, “We never get this much time together as a team even though we have offices next to each other. This is great.” Of the actual sixteen hours of meeting time (1 pm to 6 pm on Tuesday, 9 am to 6 pm on Wednesday and 9 am to noon on Thursday), teams usually spent five to six hours working together as a church team. This time frame appears to be the right amount of time. Although the gatherings were fast-paced with no formal breaks, 91 percent of the participants said the “Overall Pace” (Figure 12) of the gatherings met or exceeded their expectations.
“Usefulness of Content / Presenter” (Figure 16) was met with a 93 percent satisfaction rate with 67 percent of participants indicating that the content / presenter exceeded their expectations. This result was quite satisfying since a large percentage of participants are not only great practitioners but thought-leaders as well. I recommend continuing to bring world-class presenters into the LCs as each one contributes to the overall quality of discussion and idea generation.
One surprise discovery was the number of participants who really enjoyed the “Strategic Planning and Viable Work Plan” (Figure 16) process. Ninety-five percent of participants found the process to have met or exceeded expectations. Strategic planning accompanied by six-month “Action-Learning” plans, where specific ministry goals were set, were part of each gathering. James McGregor Burns notes that to be effective, transformational leaders must make plans but notes that “[g]reat plans must be loose at the joints, in fact a process of planning and replanning.”3 His ideas seem to fit the planning modes employed during the EFCLC gatherings. Plans are modified and remodified at each gathering in order to take advantage of new opportunities and new breakthrough ideas. The value of planning and goal setting was also confirmed when the question was asked, “How has involvement in the LC helped your church?” (Figure 20) A full 40 percent specified planning and goal setting as their greatest benefit their church received.
Burns, Transformational Leadership, 221.
Eighty-four percent of participants indicated that “the vision or direction for external focus in (their) church changed / accelerated as the result of (the) gathering(s)” (Figure 18). This finding alone could serve as the single validation for the effectiveness of Leadership. Bernard Bass writes: “[T]ransformational leaders articulate a sense of vision and purpose to followers. They align the followers around the vision and empower followers to take responsibility for achieving portions or the vision.”4 Without vision there is no transformational leadership. Without increased vision that appeals to a broader group of constituents there is no increased engagement in externally focused ministry.
Vision is the match that sparks the tinder.
1. The LC process is an effective process for accelerating congregational involvement in externally focused ministry. Every participating church made significant progress towards their desired outcome of engaging an ever-increasing number of their congregants in externally focused ministry. I can’t help but ponder, “If thirty-three churches can produce sixty-two million dollars worth of social good in a three year period, what could 350,000 churches in North America