«BAKKE GRADUATE UNIVERSITY TRANSFORMATIONAL POWER OF LEADERSHIP COMMUNITIES: ASSESSING LEADERSHIP NETWORK’S EFFECTIVENESS IN ACCELERATING THE ...»
2. Leaders enjoy and benefit from goal setting, planning, and accountability. The highest rated component of the LC gatherings (next to “location”) was the “Strategic Planning and Viable Work Plan[s]” that were products of each gathering. Ninety-five percent of participants indicated this aspect met or exceeded their expectations. James McGregor Burns suggests that goals and Bass, 64.
transformational leaders always go together. “All leadership is goal-oriented. The failure to set goals is a sign of faltering leadership. Successful leadership points in a direction; it is also the vehicle of continuing and achieving purpose.”5
3. Good friends help turn good intentions into good deeds. Volunteers in churches engage in externally focused ministry because their churches gave them increased opportunities for externally focused involvement they could do with others from their church. Each EFCLC gathering ended with plans and goals that involved new tactical approaches for engaging an increasing number of their people in community ministry. In 2002 Dr. Ram Cnaan, professor and Chair of the Doctoral Program in Social Welfare at University of Pennsylvania, published the results of a study of 251 churches and found that [R]eligious people do not volunteer more compared with nonreligious people, nor do they give more hours to volunteering compared with nonreligious volunteers… [R]eligious people volunteer within the context of a congregation and that this context leads to increased external (communal) volunteerism. Thus religious beliefs, in and of themselves, do not explain the link between religion and volunteerism.6
4. Communities recognize and appreciate congregational engagement in serving the community. Although recognition and appreciation are difficult to quantify, several churches received awards, letters of commendations and newspaper publicity that recognized their contribution to their communities. In December 2004, for instance, Calvary Bible Church in Boulder, Colorado, (EFCLC Group Two participant) was given the prestigious Governor’s Award, recognizing them Burns, Leadership, 455.
Cnaan, The Invisible Caring Hand, 216.
as Colorado’s “Volunteer Agency of the Year” in appreciation of their community engagement.
5. LC gatherings are an impetus to clarity, innovativeness and action. As previously noted from data taken from Table 19, 84 percent of participants indicated that “the vision or direction for external focus in (their) church changed / accelerated as the result of (the) gathering(s).” When asked about how their vision or direction was changed, 34 percent cited an increased clarity or focus of their vision with 30 percent citing new ideas and concrete steps they would take as a result of the gathering.
6. The collaborative process with peers is highly valued among transformational leaders. When asked what contributed most to the participants experience at each gathering (Table 10), 88 percent of participants cited “collaboration” as being the most beneficial element of the process. A collaborating environment allows for genuine peer learning and the cross-pollination of ideas. Having been part of all twelve gatherings the author was personally impressed with the high level of energy and creativity in the room. Although each gathering contained a variety of participants from senior pastors to lay volunteers, because the nametags contained no titles and participants felt, for the most part, they were with peers, the collaborative learning was exceptional. James McGregor Burns links the creative
process to collaboration of diverse contributors when he writes:
What causes such eruptions of creativity? Perhaps when we try to account for cultures that engender creativity, the emphasis ought to be on the word culture— the cross-fertilization in a given place and time of individuals and their turns of mind and ambitions, of developments in education and knowledge techniques, of new ideas or the groping toward new ideas. Even more important is the interaction of creative people, and the opportunities for interaction—within and among families, at schools and in workplaces, in political and scientific and artistic groups and professional associations, and across entire societies.7
7. There’s always room for a thought-leader. Although the EFCLC gatherings are built on the premise that “the answers are in the room,” outside presenters, who came with fresh ideas, values, insight and experiences were greatly appreciated. A full 48 percent of the participant cited the content presenter as the component that contributed most to their experience at the gathering.
8. There is incalculable value in meeting over an eighteen-month period if one desires to bring about a more permanent change—turning externally focused ministry from a ministry tactic to a constitutive value of the church. It is too early in the process to tell if the externally focused ministry of each church has become a constitutive element of the church, but the indicators of increased community engagement from 2003 to 2006 are hopeful and is my opinion as one who speaks at many one-off gatherings, that the results that have been obtained thus far could not have been duplicated through a conference or a single gathering, regardless of how powerful that one event might be. It is meeting, dreaming, planning, executing, and evaluating progress over time that has made the difference.
9. When the meeting design is sound and the gathering is well-led and wellfacilitated, leaders can accomplish a lot of work in forty-eight hours. A corollary finding might be leaders won’t put up with boring meetings after engaging in a more effective process. For the most part the Tuesday at noon to Thursday at noon gatherings were contiguous sessions, breaking only for a working lunch.
Burns. Transforming Leadership, 161.
Participants used their own judgment as to when and how frequently they left the room for a bathroom or coffee break. Even with this rigorous schedule, 91 percent of participants found the “overall pace” of the gathering met or exceeded their expectations. I recommend that a forty-eight hour session over two nights is preferable to a two day, over one night session. A half day on the first and third days seems to fit well with the energy levels and travel schedules of participants.
10. Data collection is always tough for an individual researcher or an organization.
Collecting good data took extensively more work than I imagined. This data was vital to the success of the study as well as LN’s Kingdom Impact Reports. I suggest devising a system to provide rewards for compliance for submitting timely data—perhaps a twenty-five dollar Starbuck’s certificate or a partial refund of tuition. Whatever the reward, it should be commensurate with the value the individual or organization places on trusted data.
This project and the results of this project are applicable to both of the previously mentioned stakeholders of the project—the participating churches and LN. Each of the participating churches benefited from the project, not only from the increased engagement of volunteers into the community and increased benefit to the community but also from being exposed to a different process of achieving results and getting real work accomplished through goal setting and collaboration. Interestingly two new LCs for externally focused churches (one in Atlanta and one in Los Angeles) have formed because of a church leader’s direct involvement in EFCLC Group One. Both leaders recognize the value of the transformational power of such a process.
There are also direct applications for LN. Because the LC process is new and an innovation of LN, the evaluation of the outcomes and process is helpful and instructive in forming new LCs. Currently LN has nine ministry initiatives that employ the LC process.
Other ministry initiatives include LCs for church-planting churches, multi-site churches, churches with strong recovery ministries, etc. The outcomes of this project may also be of value when inviting churches to join LCs in any future ministry initiatives. This project may also be of interest to sponsors and donors of LN who are interested in achieving increased concrete results.
This project also has application for any transformational initiatives that seek to bring about increased results through goal setting and collaborative processes. Certainly faith-based organizations, non-profits, government agencies, institutions of higher education, and businesses could benefit from this outcome-based collaborative process.
Churches Can and Must make a Difference in a Community As noted in chapter three, God’s people have historically been God’s hands and feet in the world. Cities, communities, and cultures have been transformed and revitalized as churches have sought to follow Jesus into the cities and communities of the world.
Churches that have been in step with Jesus have had a transforming effect on communities and culture. Sociologist Rodney Stark summarizes the urban impact of the early church in the first few centuries.
Christianity served as a revitalization movement that arose in response to the misery, chaos, fear and brutality of life in the urban Greco-Roman world... Christianity revitalized life in Greco-Roman cities by providing new norms and new kinds of social relationships able to cope with many urgent problems. To cities filled with the homeless and impoverished, Christianity offered charity as well as hope. To cities filled with newcomers and strangers, Christianity offered an immediate basis for attachment. To cities filled with orphans and widows, Christianity provided a new and expanded sense of family. To cities torn by violent ethnic strife, Christianity offered a new basis for social solidarity. And to cities faced with epidemics, fire, and earthquakes, Christianity offered effective nursing services... For what they brought was not simply an urban movement, but a new culture capable of making life in Greco-Roman cities tolerable.8 If the church is missing from the conversation of a community, the community will languish. Catholic scholar Thomas Massaro writes on the need and responsibility for churches to engage their communities today.
It would be irresponsible to deprive society of the contribution of religiously motivated persons whose ideas and energies are the potential basis for much needed activism and social movements for great improvement. To take just a few examples from our own country, where would American society be if religious groups had not agitated for the end to slavery (in the Abolition movement), to extreme militarism (the peace movement), to racial injustice (the Civil Rights movement), and to extreme poverty (the fight against hunger, homelessness, and illiteracy)?9 The role of the church in engaging the needs and dreams of the community becomes even more critical as social services are trimmed from federal and state budgets. Dr. Ram Cnaan writes, Because the U.S. government doesn’t provide a safety net for those in extreme need, this responsibility has been delegated to local communities and, by default, also to local congregations. When someone is hungry and homeless, help is most likely to come from members of a local congregation. When children of working parents are left alone at home, the local congregation is most likely to offer an after-school latchkey program similarly, when people are discharged from alcohol rehabilitation centers, it is most likely that they will turn for support of the AA group housed in the local congregation. In other works, in America, congregations are the “hidden” safety net.10 Because the church is nearly ubiquitous and always local in its presence in a community,
difference in the world. Could it be that the social forces that are shaping the culture today are providing new opportunities for the church to make an impact through service and ministry?
Create Structures for What is of Value Everything one truly values in church has a supporting structure to insure that this particular value is operationalized on a regular basis. For example, for churches that place a high value on the Word of God, there is always a place in the weekly service where the Bible is read. For churches that value prayer, there is always a structured time in the weekly service for prayer. The same principle holds true for the Lord’s Supper, baptism, etc. The church creates structures to support these and other values because it believes these values are constitutive elements of what it means to be the church. If the church stopped doing these things we just would not be the church that God has called it to be. If one does not have a structure that operationalizes one’s values, these are not values but mere sentiments. If ministry outside the walls of the church is to be a constitutive value of the church then church leaders must create structures that help put external service into practice. Addressing the importance for transformational leaders to address systems and structures, James McGregor Burns writes, Planning for structural change, whether of the system or in the system is the ultimate moral test of decision-making leadership inspired by certain goals and values and intent on achieving real social change; it is also the leader’s most potent weapon. It is a test in that planning calls for thinking and acting along a wide battlefront of complex forces, institutions, and contingencies; if the planners really ‘mean it,’ they must plan for the reshaping of means as required by the ends to which they are committed.11
In essence Burns is saying, “If one wants to change the end results (deploying people in externally focused ministry) one must change the means—the systems that operationalize “the ends we are attempting to achieve.” Here are five suggested practices every church can do to “operationalize” externally focused ministry.