Field Research

20 Ways Research Can Help Church Leaders Mobilize God’s People for Good Deeds

Within One Challenge, we view research as foundational to all effective ministry. We define research as gathering information to make good decisions that ultimately result in the mobilization of God's people. This article identifies 20 ways that research can be used to identify needs, create relevant ministries and mobilize God's people.


Research can help make community outreach more effective.

1. Read the local newspaper seeking to understanding the community. In the formal research world, this would be called "library research"

2. Familiarize yourself with the demographic data for your community. Governmental agencies do a good job at tracking social indicators related to ethnicity, employment, education, household structure, poverty, economic, crime and other demographics. This information, I have found, is often "eye opening" and challenges our conceptions about a community.

Is research really necessary for effective mission work?

Is research really necessary for effective mission work?

A recent bulletin of the Global Community of Mission Information Workers shares an anecdote that highlights how research supports effective mission work.

This story comes from Bob Waymire, a late 20th century pioneer in using mission information. In the late seventies Jim Montgomery and Bob gave a "research and strategy" report to their mission board. Afterward a board member, who was a dear friend, approached Bob and said half-jokingly,

    "Why don't you guys go pass out tracts on the street corner? You'll do more good than all that research stuff."

Waymire’s answer to his half-joking critic is golden:

Constructing a Worldview

Our friend, Dr. James Slack, who works with the International Mission Board, has been so kind to allow us to share the instruments he developed to conduct an ethnographic survey of a people group. Step by step instructions are given to describe the worldview of a specific people. A number of questions guide the field researcher to investigate family, social, religious, economic and political structures. Supplemental information is provided to help the development of chronological Bible story telling. The attached file contains all of research instruments.

Applied Field Research

This article will explain how applied research is used.


1. Applied research and the general use of information.
2.The internal application
3. The external application


OC makes a distinction between "basic research" and "applied research.

Common Research Problems and Questions

Here is a list of the common research questions. From these a field team can choose which ones are most relevant for its ministry context.
1. What is the basic condition of the country?
2. What are the basic needs of the society?
3. What is the world view?
4. What is the geographic, social and ethnic mosaic of the country?
5. What is the degree of receptivity to the gospel?
6. What is the Church like in terms of maturity and resources?
7. What is the size of the Church?
8. What is the rate of growth of the Church?


Sampling is used in some research projects and it is important to get this critical part of a research project done as well as possible. Some basic concepts of sampling will be covered here.

Survey Project Development

The following are considerations to take into account when developing a survey project:

Basic Information Needed

The following are listings of information are considered essential to describing the presence and progress of the Gospel, and the conditions of society. These data should be available to the Body of Christ in the nation and beyond. The following describes information that needs to be maintained at the national level for the country, people groups, rural and urban areas-for both, the harvest force and harvest field. The listings that follow do not comprise a complete listing but do include many or most of the essential variables for a reference data base.

Developing a Research Protocol

When a research project involves a partnership between a number of denominations and Christian organizations, it is often helpful to develop a research protocol or partnership agreement. This is a process that involves dialog and seeks to reach a common understanding that answers a large number of questions related to the research project. Here is a list of some of the major questions that a research protocol will seek to answer:


Field Survey Process

The following outline provides the essential steps for conducting a field survey.


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