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.

    " Basic research is the study of some field of knowledge with no specific, defined or desired purpose in mind. It is prompted by curiosity and has a very general hypothesis. This kind of research is usually thought of in the following way: "The stereotype of research is gathering great amounts of data that are published in books that are put on shelves for later researchers to pore over and to add to this new data that are published in books that are ' put on shelves for still more researchers to analyze..." (Montgomery, Rise and Possess The Land)

Applied research is the study of some field of information for a defined purpose or outcome. It seeks to discover facts that will lead to some specific end or product (i.e. discovering models. guiding a process, or testing results for effectiveness). The desired outcome is usually expressed in the form of a hypothesis to be tested or a question to be answered.

In general, OC research is intended to be communicated and applied both within OC as well as among the Church to make specific decisions related to making disciples of all peoples. OC and the Church need to make effective decisions in two areas or arenas. The first is the management process of the mission as an organization.' The second is the disciple-making process of the Church as an organism which grows by means of its evangelistic and church planting function.

The management process has to do with the planning and administrative function of an organization. The purpose of this process is two-fold. First, it provides direction and focus for an organization in order to be productive. Second. It provides structure and guidelines for effectiveness and accountability. OC has defined the Objective Process Manual.

The disciple-making process has to do with the dynamic interaction and development of ministry necessary for making disciples. Making disciples and multiplying churches requires effectiveness in a variety of ministry by the Church. For this reason, OC desires both to communicate its research findings with the Church as well as to equip the Church to do its own research. The questions answered by OC research relate to the carrying out of these to processes. OG recognizes that research is essential for their effectiveness. The following diagram illustrates the general role of the research process in providing the basis for effective planning and disciple-making.


The internal function of OC research refers to the application of information by OC field teams. Research supplies the information needed for making effective decisions in four areas.

A. Understanding the Context for Ministry. Information is essential to provide an adequate and accurate understanding of the culture. It is the key to successful orientation and adaptation by the OC team in a country. Although this application is important primarily for new fields, it is also necessary to continually add to the team's understanding of the culture.

B. Formulating Ministry Goals and Objectives. Information is put to use in setting long-range goals, determining strategy, and identifying the effectiveness areas, standards, and objectives for ministry. It fulfills the information requirements implicit in the objective process (See Appendix B of the OC Handbook). It takes the guesswork out of planning.

C. Guiding Individual and Corporate Ministry. Information is employed to guide the day-to-day process of carrying out the ministry. As needs arise, research provides a base of information to help determine which are of highest priority. It also provides the criteria for personnel recruitment and the acquisition of other resources.

D. Evaluating Ministry Effectiveness and Stewardship. Information is necessary to evaluate the fulfillment of ministry goals and objectives. It is important to know the facts and factors which contribute to or hinder their fulfillment. This enables field leadership to make necessary adjustments that will increase effectiveness and maximize the use of personnel and resources.


The external function of OC research refers to the intended use of information by the Church. There are four areas where research guides the Church in effective decision-making.

A. Determining the Potential for Harvest. Information determines what potential exists for the Church to disciple its nation. It helps the Church know the mind of the Lord and to align itself with His purposes. This leads most directly to the formation of realistic goals set by the Church and for the Church.

B. Identifying Ministry Needs. Information provides an assessment of the needs which must be met in order for the potential harvest to be reaped. It establishes the criteria for selecting which needs will be met. It leads the Church to develop ministry that will result in an increase in the harvest.

C. Describing Effective Ministry Models. Information describes the most effective models which are having the greatest impact on discipling the nation. It establishes the principles of effective ministry which can be reproduced by other segments of the Church.

D. Evaluating the Status of Cross-Cultural Ministry. Information is used to stir up more effective cross-cultural ministry. It challenges the Church to take responsibility for making disciples of all peoples. The result is more involvement by the whole Church to reach the whole world.