«BAKKE GRADUATE UNIVERSITY TRANSFORMATIONAL POWER OF LEADERSHIP COMMUNITIES: ASSESSING LEADERSHIP NETWORK’S EFFECTIVENESS IN ACCELERATING THE ...»
church leaders deploying volunteers in service and ministry to the community. The degree to which genuine transformational leadership is exercised, the more overall transformation will take place.
To be accepted as a participant in the EFCLC, team leaders must have a demonstrated track record of, or commitment to, externally focused, transformational church-based ministries. In addition leaders are accepted into the LC process because of their desire for their church to experience “exponential and not merely incremental growth in their externally focused ministries.” To accomplish exponential growth will require transformational leadership for it is “transformational leadership [that] can move followers to exceed expected performance.”13 Furthermore, “[t]ransformational leaders motivate others to do more than they originally intended and often even more than they thought possible. They set more challenging expectations and typically achieve higher performances.”14 This project will attempt to evaluate the results of the participating leaders.
I entered this project with the supposition that the world can only be changed by those who themselves have been changed. Christians who serve will be transformed as they serve and give themselves away to others resulting in more robust and healthy congregations. The apostle Paul reminds Christians that it is through “works of service” that the body of Christ is built up (Eph. 4:12). This supposition is backed by a research study of thirty-six Protestant churches published in 2006 by the School of Social Work, at Bernard M. Bass, Transformational Leadership, (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc, 1998), 2.
Baylor University. The study notes that deep faith not only leads to service but service leads to “the deepening and maturing of faith.”15 Theologically, transformation is, and always has been, the substantive feature of the gospel. The nature of God is to bring about change and empower believers to be active agents for a portion of that change. When one comes to faith in Jesus Christ one’s allegiances change. Converts become a new creation altogether (2 Cor. 5:17) and are transformed by the renewing of their minds (Rom.12:2). Collectively Christians are the body of Christ in the world loving, serving and ministering in the world in which he has placed them. The church is to do the things Jesus did (John 14:12); seeking and saving…serving and giving. At a minimum these LCs are formed to accelerate the engagement of the church in the world around them as followers and servants of Jesus.
There are implications of this project for LN. Although each church pays tuition of $3000 to $5000 to be a part of the LC process, approximately 70 percent of the LC process is subsidized by LN donors. A positive outcome of the LC process, as measured by significant growth of volunteers and hours of service, if relayed to donors, could generate more donations. Conversely, a less than stellar evaluation of the outcomes may lead to LN seek another means of accelerating the growth and progress of church innovations.
The Role of Faith in the Service of Christian Volunteers; available from http://www.baylor.edu/content/services/document.php/22974.pdf; P. 2; Internet; accessed 12 February 2007.
The findings from the LC process and this project will be disseminated to the broader church worldwide via Web-based white papers, books, journal and magazine articles, LN conferences, television and radio interviews, and podcasts, which hopefully will serve as a catalyst to engaging an ever-broadening group of churches in the needs and dreams of their communities. There is also the potential of developing curricula for seminaries and other academic institutions. I believe that churches that are serving their communities are part of a movement that God has initiated. He wants to place the church back into community where it can be the salt, light and leaven it was intended to be. It is my hope that a critical mass of externally focused churches can change the world.
Jesus had the right balance between good news and good deeds (Acts 10:36-38).
Engaging in holistic expressions of externally focused ministry is not creating anything new but simply rediscovering what has always been historically true about the gospel.
This project could be foundational for a group of churches to be thought-leaders and models for the best practices in the area of externally focused churches.
This chapter reviews the literature that is most relevant to the project of assessing LN’s process of mobilizing and empowering leaders in community ministry through LCs.
Although not exhaustive, the books reviewed here are foundational to understanding transformational leadership, incarnational ministry, adult learning, the history of the church’s engagement in community, and externally focused church models. The categories pertain to (1) historical literature, (2) theological literature, (3) sociological literature and (4) practical / missiological literature.
Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission, by David Bosch, is a classic volume of scholarly endeavor as well as a practical and insightful treatise on how the church has carried out its missio dei—the mission of God. Bosch frames his study in the construct of seven historical missional / theological paradigms. Bosch’s seven paradigms of mission roughly follow the history of the church: (1) the Primitive Church Paradigm—through the understanding and practice of Jesus, Luke, Paul, and Matthew, (2) the Eastern Church Paradigm, (3) the Medieval Roman Catholic Missionary Paradigm, (4) the Protestant Reformation Paradigm, (5) the Enlightenment Paradigm, (6) the Post-modern paradigm, and finally (7) the Emerging Ecumenical Missionary Paradigm.
Each paradigm is defined by the church’s relationship to the state, culture, theology, ecclesiastical purpose and guiding Scripture. After perusing two-thousand years of mission history, one can conclude that the church, neither at any time nor in any place, has really been healthy enough to properly propagate itself. Every missionary effort has been flawed in its motives and execution but in the end mission is missio Dei—God’s mission, and it is to his glory that in spite of our flawed efforts, the gospel goes forth, peoples are converted, churches are planted, and cultures influenced and changed.
Recognizing the missional age the church is currently in is helpful in understanding why God appears to be launching the church into the community.
Thomas Cahill’s, Desire of the Everlasting Hills: The World Before and After Jesus is one of Cahill’s books on the “hinges of history”—people and events that greatly shaped the values, culture, and thinking of the Western world. This book seeks to answer the two questions, “Did Jesus make a difference?” and “Is our world any better today than it was before Jesus walked this earth?”1 Cahill notes that there seems to be two streams of Christianity that flow through history—the transformational and life-giving gospel of the cross and the dark “subterranean river” of Christianity that is the fount of suppression and exclusion. Cahill concludes that for the past two thousand years there have been those who have read the gospels with fresh eyes and become agents of grace and transformation in every age.2 This conclusion is very relevant to this project in that becoming an externally focused church is predicated on reading the Scriptures with new eyes and rediscovering what it means to be an agent of grace in this age.
The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries by Rodney Stark is a wonderful treatise on the growth of the church from a sociological perspective. My interest in the book, as it relates to my project, is Stark’s observations on how the early Christian’s theology and view of Jesus’ teachings motivated believers to act mercifully towards the people in distress around them. During the most difficult times of disease or plague, when others fled the city, it was the believers who took care not only of each other but their non-believing or pagan neighbor as well.3 These counter-cultural actions were instrumental in the forty-percent per decade growth of the church in the first three centuries.4 The new growth plates of the church today will most likely be in places where believers are acting in similarly counter-cultural ways by radically loving their neighbors.
In Adolf Harnack’s epic work, The Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Centuries. Vol. 1,5 the author provides helpful insight on the growth of the early church.
This is the sourcebook—the fountainhead to which other author’s return for insight on historical Christianity. Particularly informative was Chapter III, The Gospel of Love and Charity, where Harnack gives a detailed account of how the early church cared for widows, orphans, prisoners, slaves, the sick and disabled as well as the poor. Their gospel was a gospel of love and their love and care was a magnet that drew others to Jesus and to the fellowship of the church. Ministering love towards others is an expression of God’s Stark, 92-93.
Adolf Harnack, The Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Centuries. Vol.
1., (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1998).
love. This volume, along with Rodney Stark’s, The Rise of Christianity, provides much of the background material on the externally focused nature of the early church. Since I am finding that all historical books I have read thus far point back to Harnack’s work or the sources Harnack sites, this treasure will be important in establishing historic foundations of the early church.
The Newer Deal: Social work and Religion in Partnership by Ram A. Cnaan provides the history and social context for churches that are engaged in social ministry today. Written in 1999, Cnaan’s research team provides the research on the impact congregations are making in human services. He writes, “Just as no one can imagine a car going anywhere without its wheels, even though the engine is its most important part, no one in the future will be able to imagine a limited partnership of care solving, managing or preventing problems without assistance or direct involvement from the religious community, even though that entity is not its engine.”6 Most helpful was Cnaan’s review of the impact that congregations have made outside their walls over the year as well as a helpful analysis as to why the religious community gets so little recognition today in the field of social work.
To understand externally focused ministry from a Catholic perspective, there is
probably not a simpler foundational work that Thomas Massaro’s Living Justice:
Catholic Social Teaching in Action. Massaro points out that “many of the laudable social institutions and practices that we take for granted today have their roots in teachings and activities of the Christian community, including the Catholic Church.”7 Massaro
elaborates on the hospitals, orphanages, schools, labor unions, etc. that were initiated by believers in response to their understanding of the gospel. He notes, “For good reason, then, the Church has been called the ‘“godmother of the nonprofit sector.’”8
Most helpful were the Nine Key Themes of Catholic Social Teaching:
1. The dignity of every person and human rights
2. Solidarity, common good, and participation
3. Family life
4. Subsidiarity and the proper role of government
5. Property ownership in modern society: rights and responsibilities
6. The dignity of work, rights of workers, and support for labor unions
7. Colonialism and economic development
8. Peace and Disarmament
9. Option for the Poor and Vulnerable9 Social teaching may be new for many churches but it has been far from absent from the historic teachings of the church.
Beryl Hugen’s anthology of Christianity and social work in Christianity and Social Work: Readings on the Integration of Christian Faith and Social Work Practice fills in many historical gaps in understanding the Christian view and practice of social work from biblical times to the present day. This book is a compilation of the writings of some of the best thinkers in the field of Christian social work. Beginning with biblical texts, the authors trace the role of the church in shaping values and meeting the needs of
society from the days of the early church through the middle ages, through Wesleyan England, through the settlement houses of the late 1800s up to the present day. Hugen writes, “The justice and love of God set forth and exemplified in the Judeo-Christian tradition has given drive and direction to much of western culture’s charities. Historically the whole shape and operation of organized welfare is inexplicable apart from this religious conviction and commitment. Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant thought have all along continuously shaped the ideological basis of social work practice.”10 It is clear the church has had a defining role in caring for those on the margin. Helpful too is understanding how other social influences, like pauper laws, social Darwinism, professionalization of social services, and governmental assistance have tempered the church’s involvement in meeting societal needs.
The Black Church in the African American Experience11 is a monumental study of the African American church viewed through the eyes of the seven major historic black denominations in the United States, which encompass 80 percent of black church attendees. With backing from the Lilly Endowment and the Ford Foundation, authors Lincoln and Mamiya, conducted a ten-year study of 2,150 churches using over 1,800 interviews with urban and rural black clergy. Their discoveries form the corpus of this helpful work on the African-American church. What was most instructive was the role the church played in serving their community outside the walls of the church. The black church, as a body, is unique in this respect. This book stands as a landmark research Ibid., 2.