This project seeks to answer the research question, ‘How effective is Leadership Network’s Leadership Community process in accelerating the deployment of church volunteers in ministry and service to the community?’ The participants of this project were the members of three separate Externally Focused Church Leadership Communities. These leaders come from 33 churches, whose average weekly attendance is 2,282 with a median weekend attendance of 1,200. The three Leadership Communities met separately four times, over an eighteen-month period. During each three-day gathering participants reported on progress, worked collaboratively to solve common problems, discover innovative approaches to community ministry and set new goals.
To determine the effectiveness of the Leadership Community process in accelerating the deployment of volunteers in community ministry, three data points were used to gather data. First, initial data was gathered from each church at the beginning of the process, via an application process, to quantify the number of volunteers and the hours they were currently serving. The second data point was an annual questionnaire sent to participating churches each year since 2004. It is this questionnaire that records how many volunteers were serving along with the hours they served. The third data point measured the quality and effectiveness of each individual Leadership Community gathering via an electronic survey sent to participants following each gathering.
The results were very encouraging. Cumulatively the thirty-three churches increased the involvement of volunteers from twenty-one 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 financial impact is equally impressive. The economic value of volunteer service, as calculated by the U.S. Department of Labor, increased from $8,025,427 in 2003 to $21,620,412 in 2006. The cumulative economic value of volunteers from these thirty-three churches serving in the community from 2003 to 2006 is an impressive $62,579,468.
The Leadership Community gatherings were also seen as an effective process in accelerating the process. Collectively 94 percent of participants communicated the Leadership Community gatherings ‘met’ or ‘exceeded expectations’ of all gathering attended. The findings from both the increased results and the satisfaction with the Leadership Community gatherings lead to an affirmative answer to the research question.