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Running head: DEVELOPING A PROPOSAL ARGUMENT

Maxwell Exercise 7.1 Developing a Proposal Argument


Karin Fonseca
Valdosta State University

DEVELOPING A PROPOSAL ARGUMENT

Maxwell Exercise 7.1 Developing a Proposal Argument


Research Problem
The evolution of the world has challenged effective leadership in the Church in the 21st
century. Many church organizations have suffered a decrease in participation, forcing them to
rethink what leadership tools and factors influence the church organization to growth in the 21st
Century. According to Roozen, D. (2016), American Congregations 2015: Thriving and
Surviving a study from Hartford Institute for Religion Research, less then 35% of Congregations
in America have grown more than 2% in the years of 2010 to 2015 (p.4). Earls (2016)
summarize the same study in the article 7 Statistics That Predict Church Grown with an analysis
of the seven statistics that played a role in the growth of churches in the five years, categorizing
as: growing location, younger congregation, innovative worship, lack of serious conflict,
involves church members, unique identity and specialized program (p.1-2).
Research Goals:
The goal of this research is to study and determine the leadership tools and factors that
effectively influenced, lead and strengthen the growth of a Christian Church organization in the
21st Century, as well as what strategies successful church leaders have used to adapt to the many
changes of the world today. While many organizations have suffered a significant decrease in
membership I learned about the success story of CrossPointe Church, in Valdosta Georgia, and
become interest in learning what has influenced this organization to grow and learning about
their organizational leadership style, tools and strategies. In addition, I am interested in studying
the particular story of the Pastor as the most significant leader figure of this particular
organization.

DEVELOPING A PROPOSAL ARGUMENT

Conceptual Framework:
Changes in the world have directly impacted and influenced leadership in church
communities in the past decades. Globalization, technology, marketing are some of the aspects
that have played a role in the growth of church. Because there are so many factors that have
influenced the evolution and change of churches in the past decades, understanding
organizational leadership in these communities is essential. While there are many studies about
organizational leadership in church, attendance decline and suggested strategies to allow growth
in church communities, this study is based on a success story of a church community that has
grown in the past decade.
For the case study of the nonprofit CrossPointe Church organization, the primary concept
is organizational leadership and the focus is how their organization leads to community growth
while adapting to the changes in the world. All categories are linked and must work together as
well in parallel in order to create growth for the organization. The Pastor as the main leader, his
leadership team, and the members constitutes the leadership aspect of the organization itself.
The Pastor Attributes and Competencies as a leader are fundamental in the leadership style and
strategies he uses in order to lead this team and consequently all members. There are aspects to
be consider under each of the attributes such as character, presence, intellect and availability as
well as under the competencies such as his ability to lead, achieve the goals established, ability to
build trust, develop, create, advice, guide and influence its members and team.
The Leadership team must receive constant training and develop in education. Team
buildings, meetings, are also important in developing a team that is prepared for conflict
management, counseling, nurturing and fellowship building. Because the Pastor is only one
person, the leadership team plays a great role in passing forward and maintaining the common

DEVELOPING A PROPOSAL ARGUMENT

goals in order to constantly produce and keep the growth of the organization. Members are
categorized in different groups, from children, youth, couples & adults, families, men & woman,
college and recovery adults.
The institution provides many programs that tackle each particular group in order to
achieve the goals. Members can also be categorized in their discipleship and level, as spiritual
infant, maturing believer, multiplying leaders and co-laborer. These are almost like ranks that are
obtained as members evolve in their Christianity developing a higher probability of adding to the
organization as a whole. Each member has attributes that also play a role in the growth of the
community such as values, beliefs, attendance, loyalty, ownership and sense of belonging. This
will be directly related to the main programs available, to the vision, mission, values and goals
shared in the organization, and the influences on the monetary fund of the organization. Some
of the influential factors that are developed by the leaders and members are the programs
available. The vision, mission and values of the organization, and the goals to be attained all
implicate with the congregational governance and guidance, the strategies aliened, the ministry
leadership and the authenticity of the spiritual direction. Those factors in parallel with the
programs, the location and monetary fund play a role in the church growth.
A non-profit organization such as a church bases its operation in religion, this is the
focus, the core of the organization, however a organization does not function without good
leadership and program development that can actually lead to the growth and expansion of the
organization. Fundraising, members buy-in, donations and investments must be clearly
developed and considered by the leaders of the organization in order to continue the commitment
of the membership. The location along with its size, culture and environment as well as
technology available also plays a role in the 21st century as it influences the growth in many

DEVELOPING A PROPOSAL ARGUMENT

directions. Although the pastor plays a major leadership role in the organization, all
characteristics of the framework must operate together in order to lead the 21st century church to
growth.
Research Questions:
The goal of any church organization is to grow in membership attendance as to continue to
expand and develops its faith and organization. Considering the big problem as determining the
leadership tools and factors that strengthen a church organization to growth in the 21st Century, I
have considered the research questions below. The first research question in a broad question
that would lead me in understanding the trends and factors that directly related to effective
organizational leadership in a church organization in todays world. The second research
question is directly related to the successful story of a particular church community that has
developed and grown in the past decade in order to analyze how they have adapt to the evolving
changes of society and what leadership tools and skills have been key factors to the success.
This questions would further my understanding on the phenomena of study and the deep
understanding of organizational leadership in church communities.
Research Question 1
What factors describe church leadership in the 21st century?
Research Question 2
What strategies and tools did successful leaders employ to adapt to the rapid changes in society
at CrossPointe church while reporting growth within the community?
Additional Possible Research Questions:
How the organizational leadership strategy of Cross Pointe Church seeks community growth in
the 21st century?

DEVELOPING A PROPOSAL ARGUMENT

How does the Pastor at CrossPointe seek growth trough the leadership team and members of this
organization?
How does the Leadership Team perceive the importance of the growth within their community at
CrossPointe and how are they dealing with it?
Research Relationships:
For this case study my main focus will be to develop relationships with the
CrossPointe Church Leaders and members. Because of the nature of this organization I consider
that participants will be willing to help and participate with the research. As in any study, there
are ethical, philosophical and political issues that can rise, and I plan to be aware and sensitive to
those matters always focusing in honest and open communication so that the relationships built
can grow and evolve over time. Although I have attended this particular organization in the past,
I have not built any personal relationship with any leadership member, for this reason developing
those relationships will be of great value to being able to gather the information that will allow
me to understand the phenomena being studied. I am aware there will be the need of
authorizations and confidentiality agreements to be put in place to assure the process is ethical
and in accordance to regulations.
Site and Participation Selection:
I plan to present the endeavor of studying the success story of CrossPointe as a
partnership project along with the Pastor and the leadership team, where they also could be
benefited from it. I will focus on explaining the importance of analyzing the leadership aspects
of the organization and the benefits to the organization. As a researcher, I am aware this process
will take time and I must start by having an informal conversation about my research topic and
also listen to what the pastor would be comfortable with, as well as his ideas and how he could

DEVELOPING A PROPOSAL ARGUMENT

influence the study in order to gain something back. Once that partnership is confirmed, I plan
to develop a relationship with his leadership team as well as obtaining contact information from
participants that have worked with him in the past within the organization or in his previous
career to obtain more validity. All participants will be purposefully selected. Another small
sample I tend to gather information is from members of the church. I can randomly select them,
or purposefully select them using some criterias such as years of membership in the same
church community, gender, age group, and others. That could lead this research to involve some
sort of quantitative method, which I am not sure if I would like to add to the research. Hopefully
I will be able to add members insight in a qualitative manner providing validity to the study.
I will have to be extremely careful, and critical in analyzing the information gathered and
I consider this will be a complex process. I understand that every step must be critically thought
through and analyzed so not to affect the study of the phenomena.
Building trust and transparency is what I consider to be fundamental for the information
to be as raw and real as possible. Furthermore it is crucial that the participants understand the
purpose of the study so that they can truly provide quality information. I personally do not think
that status and power differences in between participants and me will play a role in this particular
environment. Nonetheless, I will be perceptive and try to always make the participants feel
comfortable and in agreement of the processes, ethical and confidential issues. I will explain the
research project, the purpose and allow them to review the material for authorization.
Furthermore while building the relationships, I will try to offer my services and time in
exchange for theirs as well. With the Pastor, I will express the desire of working in this project
as partners and show the benefits this study could provide not only for myself, but also most
importantly for him and others. I will express my desire to present the findings in an

DEVELOPING A PROPOSAL ARGUMENT

international conference extending him an invitation as a symbol of appreciation. We can


present it together and bring more audience to the success story of this particular organization.
Data Collection and Analysis:
Due to the nature of this study, the use of a purposeful sample is very clear as for most of
the research questions I will be interviewing mainly the Pastor, the Leadership Team of
CrossPointe, and current as well as previous members in order to find how each are influenced
by the leadership style of this organization and how they perceive the changes in the 21st as
related to growth. In addition, I plan to interview experts on organization leadership in the area
of Church Leadership to further validate the findings as well as past co-workers of the Pastor.
The methods used in this research, considering a case study, will be various from observations of
services, programs, committee meeting, to personal taped face-to face interviews, taped openended group interviews, previous research, archived documents and videos about the
organization, members questionnaires, field notes, and statistical reports. Sidemans threeinterview technique will be used allowing for consistency in the collection of data. This will
provide me with data that can help me in connecting the strategies, theories, and better
understanding of the phenomena being studied. Studying this particular case of success in an era
where church attendance has decline in many congregations can provide great insight on
leadership skills, tools and strategies that can be useful for many.
Validity:
In every study, validity threats exist, and research biases as well as reactivity are two
specific validity threats that must be addressed, furthermore the main idea is to how the research
can rule out specific threats to the interpretation and conclusion of the phenomena being studied.
This study proposes a few validity threats such as personal biases; Deep culture of faith might

DEVELOPING A PROPOSAL ARGUMENT

influencing on the accuracy of participants true opinion; Group interviews might limit the full
expression of self; Potential for lack of variability in feedback of group interviews; and Pastor
and Leadership team reactivity to researcher.
In order to warrant validity, I plan on using the following methods:

Intense review of theories, documents and expert material to assure the correct design and
methodology is being use in order to understand the phenomena being studied and

answer the research questions.


Intense and constant self-critique of personal biases.
Use of open ended script minimizing research bias
Development of ongoing relationships to better understand the culture and participants

natural and real points of view


Critical analysis of data provided by participants
Multiple face-to-face interviews with member check review and follow up questions.
Group Interviews with open ended questions
Multiple observations with external member that can review recordings and provide

feedback
Participants review and authorization of data provided
Member Questionnaires
Past, present and future documented experiences from participants
Triangulation of data
Review with the research committee of the study in order to review for discrepant

evidence and negative cases


Comparison to other cases

Reflection:
This exercise allowed me to structure some of the main components of the research
proposal. This helped me in understanding the connectivity of them and the importance of each.
By developing a tentative proposal I was able to rethink many areas that would need change and
adaptation in order to best provide the information that would answer the research questions.
Furthermore the importance of thinking on the justification for each component is a great

DEVELOPING A PROPOSAL ARGUMENT

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exercise as it forced me go deep in the analysis, methodology, theory, validity threats as some of
the main components. I do recognize that a lot more literature review must be done prior do the
real development of the proposal in order to have a better understanding of the phenomena and
consequently being able to justify the many components of the study. Qualitative research is
fascinating as it develops and guides the researcher to new discoveries and interpretations. It is
a non ending process that influences the growth not only of the researcher but furthermore it adds
to the field of the phenomena being studied.

References
Earls, A. (2016). 7 Statistics That Predict Church Growth. Facts & Trends.1-2.
Retrieved from http://factsandtrends.net/2016/03/17/7-statistics-that-predict-church-

DEVELOPING A PROPOSAL ARGUMENT


growth/#.WA1g2sdy9lI
Roozen, D. (2016). American Congregations 2015: Thriving and Surviving. Hartford Institute
for Religion Research. Retrieved from
http://www.faithcommunitiestoday.org/sites/default/files/American-Congregations2015.pdf

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