Insights from a Veteran Mission Information Worker

A guest post by Jeanie Curryer, formerly Director of OC Research

I am writing this one week before I retire after 45 years of involvement in missions, over 30 of which were focused primarily on research. Before becoming a researcher, I was an English teacher at Faith Academy outside of Manila, not the most likely background for an information worker. Nevertheless, in 1985 at the prompting of the president of my mission, I was assigned to a new ministry in research. After a few weeks of training in church growth research at our headquarters, I returned to Manila and found myself suddenly involved in a survey focused on locating every church in Metro Manila, which at that time was comprised of four cities and 13 municipalities with a total population over eight million.

The Disciple A Whole Nation (DAWN) saturation church planting movement was underway, and many denominations were heavily engaged in starting new churches in support of the goal of seeing a church in every barangay (village or neighborhood) or a total of 50,000 churches in the Philippines by the year 2000. My agency was fully involved in supporting this movement, but two pressing questions nagged at us. How can the Philippine Church monitor the progress they’re making toward this goal if we don’t know which barangays do and don't have churches? And, how do we go about answering this question? The 1985 Metro Manila Church Survey was our first attempt to address this dilemma.

Mission, Research and Applied Scholarship

In May, several from the Global Research Team visited Africa International University, a Christian college in Nairobi, Kenya. In the stacks of the library there are tall blue books on nearly every shelf. These are bound dissertations by Africans documenting ministry challenges faced in Kenya and beyond. There is so much we can learn from one another!

Several mission training academic institutions from around the world have launched a new initiative called the MRAS (Mission Research and Applied Scholarship). It aims to engage institutions of higher learning involved in mission studies to catalog their research so that students who work for advanced degrees can focus on topics of greatest need to the global church's mission enterprise.

MRAS has the potential to create energy and shared commitment between the academy and applied researchers. It could encourage Christian students to ask questions that field workers actually face. It could put what gets shelved in libraries to effective use in the field.


7 Key Insights that Advance Nationwide Disciple Making Processes

Not all saturation church planting or disciple making processes produce equal fruit. What makes the difference? If we have limited resources, which emphases are most fruitful?

These are some of the questions posed at the beginning of the 2017 National Church Planting Processes Survey. This first-of-its-kind study aimed at assessing the effectiveness of whole-nation disciple making process, sometimes referred to as Saturation Church Planting (SCP) or DAWN Initiatives. Seven significant insights emerged from the analysis of participant responses, insights, which when acted upon, can guide the development of effective nationwide disciple making processes.

Here are the seven insights:

  1. The “ideal” DAWN strategy is effective.
  2. National Church Leadership is the most significant factor for developing a whole nation church planting process.
  3. “Seminars and Consultations” is the second most significant factor contributing to an effective nationwide disciple making process.
  4. Relationships are foundational to a fruitful national process.
  5. Continually refine the process.
  6. Think critically about it is going to take to disciple the whole nation.
  7. Success requires a long obedience in the same direction.

A more thorough explanation of these seven insights is available here, including practical applications of how this research guides the development whole-nation disciple making processes as we move toward AD 2050. Other articles related to NCPP research are available here.

Gathering Together to Propel the Kingdom Forward through Research

One hundred people from 23 countries convened in Nairobi, Kenya for the 8th Lausanne International Researchers’ Conference (LIRC8) from April 30 to May 4. The Lausanne Movement’s Church Research Track, The Movement of African National Initiatives (MANI), The World Evangelical Alliance’s Community of Mission Information Workers, and the Global Research Team of One Challenge partnered together in organizing the conference.

Dr. Peter Brierley, keynote speaker and initiator of the conference in 1986, said: “(This conference) was easily the best we have had thus far, both in terms of numbers, the number of countries represented, and the wonderfully efficient organization that surrounded it.”

Research that Guides Kingdom Impact

One thing that makes One Challenge's ministry of research unique is that it holds an integral and explicit part in our 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 call “research.”

Research 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 One Challenge 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.

A Tribute to Viggio Søgaard

This spring, Larry and Stephanie Kraft traveled to Thailand to teach a course on mission research. The Krafts involvement in this training is intertwined with a fascinating story about Dr. Viggo Søgaard, a respected Danish professor and communication consultant. This story highlights the surprising ways God uses to move us on in ministry. Here is the story, shared in Stephanie’s words.

"Prayer Release" for the 8th Lausanne International Researchers' Conference

The Lausanne Movement, The Movement of African National Initiatives, the WEA-MC Community of Mission Information Workers, and OC International are jointly supporting the 8th Lausanne International Researchers’ Conference, which will be held 30 April through 4 May 2018 near Nairobi, Kenya. The theme of this gathering is "Research that Guides Kingdom Impact" and its purpose is to connect influencers and ideas as they relate to church research for global mission. Presentations will focus on research to help the church increase its effectiveness in working toward the Lausanne Fourfold Vision of the Gospel for every person, an evangelical church for every people, Christ-like leaders for every church and Kingdom impact in every sphere of society.

    Would you please pray for the conference's 100+ registered participants and its thirty-five presenters?

Intercede for the many who are still waiting on the Lord for adequate funding to attend. Ask the Lord to bless this time with health and safety, fresh ideas, loving interactions, and new and renewed callings into ministries of church and mission information work.


OC Research LINK - SPRING 2018

What is God doing through the OC Global Alliance? Each year all teams that make up the OC Global Alliance report on their past year’s ministry. This issue of Research LINK shares seven highlights from 2017 and focuses on seven long-term trends. You will certainly be encouraged by reading this summary of how God is at work within the OC Global Alliance. Click here to view of this issue of Research Link.

First-of-its-kind Global Study of National Church Planting Processes

In 2017, a key partner requested the assistance of the Global Research Team to evaluate the effectiveness of National Church Planting Processes on a global scale. An online survey was used, and over 110 workers with significant experience participated. This report introduces the major findings of the study and highlights new insights pertinent to advancing national church planting processes around the world. This first-of-its-kind report is available here. A second report, available here, focuses on the vital role of national leadership in advancing national church planting processes. Other NCPP articles are available here.

Research Uncovers Remarkable Insights about Sub-Saharan Africans Going North

In 2016 the North Africa Disciple Making Movements Partnership asked the Global Research Team to help them gather information about Sub-Saharan Africans who moved to North Africa. This research sought to discover: What would be the best means for Sub-Saharan Africans to gain access to reside in North Africa so they could begin Disciple Making Movements?

Five workers in three North African countries interviewed 92 Sub-Saharan Africans, 57 of whom were followers of Jesus. The results of those interviews were entered into an online survey and subsequently analyzed.

The most common motivations to go North were to earn additional income, get a better job, and facilitate immigration. For students and recent graduates, their choice to go North was tied to scholarships, quality education programs, or receiving a good job offer. Only four respondents moved North because they felt a calling or desire to serve in North Africa. Read on for other remarkable insights about living in North Africa.



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