OC Research FAQs

Ministry research is collecting and analyzing information to aid in the mobilization of the Body of Christ and in strategic planning in order to faithfully carry out the Great Commission of Jesus to make disciples of all nations. The purpose of field research is to perceive what the Holy Spirit is doing and where he wants to lead the Body of Christ, so we can cooperate with Him and be used by God in his harvest. It is not for our own edification or personal advancement, but so that we may better participate in God's plans and so that He may be glorified.

  1. Research can help us step back and look at the big picture and try to discern how we can make an impact on a region (what needs to be done to complete the Great Commission task in a neighborhood, city, country or whatever God puts on our hearts).
  2. It also aids in building credibility when we deal with others in the Body of Christ (intercessors, donors, etc.) as well as those unbelievers we may befriend.
  3. Research helps focus priorities for ministry (pastors, evangelists, church planters' etc. needs for training, discover what the churches need help with, find the areas least reached with the gospel, etc.)
  4. Research can clear up confusions (particularly useful in helping direct outside resources). In many parts of the world there are stories of churches, denominations or other organizations getting a hold of good research just when they were at a crossroads in deciding how to proceed and the information made those decisions clear. Without good research, such decisions are made in a fog of confusion where what the most persuasive person thinks wins out.

Researchers also benefit greatly as we gain God's perspective.

One thing that makes OC Research unique is that it holds an integral and explicit part in OC`s stated organizational strategy: “Using Research, Motivation and Training we Mobilize the Christian leaders to reach their nations and beyond.” So, why is research found right there at the beginning of our strategy? Perhaps Proverbs 18:15 can help clear this up: “The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out." As we seek to wisely discern God`s will for our work and ministry, we recognize that we need to seek out knowledge. The process of seeking out knowledge is what we in OC call "Research.”

Research in OC helps our ministries in several ways:

  • Research leads to good ministry strategies. Answers to questions like what is God doing and wanting to do in a certain context, where are the needs, what ministry methods are being used by God to meet those needs most effectively, what needs are not being met, and how can the wider body of Christ better cooperate to bring the transforming power of the Gospel to their nations will lead to key strategies for OC and others as we seek to carry out our Lord’s Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20)
  • Research leads to greater effectiveness in our work and ministries. As we use Research to evaluate our progress in carrying out the strategies the Lord has led us to, we learn how to do it better in the future. Our research should always point us forward as we learn from the past and present.
  • Research motivates and challenges the church. As we research the church in its context, we have information that, when shared with Godly people in those countries and contexts, will motivate and challenge them in their work for the Lord. It is our experience that as good Research clarifies the situation, God moves in people’s hearts to do His will.
  • Research leads to focused intercession. God wants us to pray that His Kingdom would come on Earth. Clearly seeing the needs motivates the body of Christ to call out to God to meet those needs. Movements of intercession for the nations are built on good information that is gathered through Research.

Research is the structured gathering and organization of data, which when organized and understood, becomes information. The information becomes knowledge when we begin to discern the implications of that information and it becomes wisdom as we use it to shape our outlook and plans for the future and increase our effectiveness. OC Research includes this entire process. It is not just gathering the data. We understand that gathering and organizing data can be a satisfying pursuit in itself. God created us with curious minds. The exhilaration of discovering something new is a wonderful, God-given emotion,

Because we have limited personnel and resources, as much as is practical, we seek to focus our research on the questions that will influence our future ministry strategies, So as we plan our research, we ask, “What do we need to know in order to make the next strategy decision?" Those who hold information have a great responsibility before God to use that information for Godly purposes, So, we are very concerned about how our research is used. We seek God to reveal His interpretation of the facts and the implications it carries for the future as we seek to carry out his will.

Some of the best field researchers in the world are OC missionaries and all of our missionaries are encouraged to use research or strategic information in their ministries. OC field workers are involved in a diversity of research projects. Some of these projects are formal. Others are informal.
Here are some examples:

  • Identify locations without churches
  • Whole Nation Church Census
  • Unreached People Group profiles
  • Spiritual mapping of a neighborhood
  • Study the growth of a denomination or church
  • Church Health Diagnosis
  • Community profiles
  • Directory of churches
  • Directory of Christian Organizations
  • Directory of Christian Workers
  • Determine the number of missionaries sent by a country
  • Leadership Development Needs and Resources
  • Determine the effect of a coach on the success of a church plant
  • Measure ministry effectiveness
  • Ethnographies
  • Study factors leading to the conversion of a particular religious group
  • Missionary member care survey
  • Community Survey
  • Breakthrough research related to solving a ministry related problem
  • Spirituality among young urban non-evangelical Eastern Europeans
  • Evaluation of specific ministry resources
  • Determine whether or not to open a new field
  • Determine felt needs of a People Group in a specific city

OC Missionaries use a variety of methods to gather the strategic information they need to carry out effective ministry. Here are some of them.

  • Library / web research
  • Ethnography
  • Participant observation
  • Case studies
  • Interviews
  • Analysis of existing information
  • Field Research
  • Experimentation
  • Surveys
  • Focus Groups

OC offers many different levels of training in the area of research.

  • Because research is foundational to all OC ministry, all field personnel are trained in basic research skills. During CORE internship all personnel are given a basic orientation about OC research.
  • An on-line course for all OC missionaries is available on the OC Learning Center, Finding your way in OC Research. This looks at the importance of research to OC’s strategy, the biblical basis for research and introduces the different types of research a missionary is likely to use on the field. Simple research projects are suggested that a new field worker can do during his or her first year on the field.
  • Periodically the majority of OC field researchers gather for a consultation. We share case studies and best practices, learn what's new, and improve our research skills.
  • The Research Wiki section of this website offers practical instruction on how to do various research tasks.
  • The Resources section of this website offers case studies, field reports and other training documents.
  • OC’s internal website has a research section. Featured there is an extensive research library, issues of Research Link – OC’s Quarterly research bulletin, and an outline for training OC researchers at all levels – Finding your way with OC Research.
  • Mentors are available to assist personnel with their research questions and projects.

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A missionary field researcher uses many different skill sets. Some of these skills are more innate; others are learned. Some of skills deal with gathering, processing and analyzing information. Other skills deal with presenting information in a way that motivates others.

Innate skills

  • Creative-conceptual
  • Logical/methodological-structured
  • Organized -collective
  • Detail oriented - precise
  • Deductive- analytic/reflective
  • Mathematical ability
  • Artistic ability
  • Communicative - oral and written
  • Patient - long suffering
  • Unbiased – open minded

Learned skills

  • Planning
  • Knowledge of people and places: geography, demographics, linguistics. ethnography, religion and world view.
  • Data acquisition – Field Surveys, Library Research, Interviewing, Participant Observation
  • Processing data
  • Computer skills – Data base management, spreadsheets, presentations, website development, desktop publishing, graphic arts
  • Verifying data
  • Data analysis -statistics
  • Mapping
  • Reporting of data and conclusions – written and verbal, presentations, publications
  • Cultural sensitivity – attitude toward Christians, language and culture, Political climate and influence on Church
  • Training
  • Partnership Development
  • Ministering and serving Church Leaders

Motivational skills

  • Biblical understanding of God and his purposes
  • Visionary - goal-oriented
  • Curious - investigative
  • Persistent - persevering
  • Self-initiative - energetic
  • Relational - people person
  • Team player - collaborative
  • Serving - servant heart

There are many ways to be involved in field research.

We believe prayer is foundational to good research. After all, from God comes wisdom and understanding (Exodus 31:3).

Sometimes field workers use short term teams to do field surveys.

Persons with technical skills, such as survey development, database management, website development, graphic design, data analysis, marketing research or mapping, can assist OC Field Researchers with specific projects.

Of course, OC is looking for long term field personnel to work in the area of research.

If one of these opportunities interests you, let’s become acquainted.