I am a planner. I like to know the facts and what to do before I start something. In order to figure out what I need to know, I do what most people do… I get on the internet and research.
Research can be very useful, particularly in the context of ministry. It can be difficult to start new ministries, especially when there is limited knowledge on the subject or limited access to resources.
Research can help overcome these barriers in the following ways:
You don’t have to start from scratch. The world is a large place, which means it is highly likely a ministry similar to the one you are trying to get started exists in some capacity somewhere. It may be in a completely different context or may have different resources, but you can still learn from it. You can learn from their mistakes and what didn’t work or find new ideas to implement.
This is also useful when you might need training tools or curriculum. It can be a daunting task to create your own. If you find a resource that already exists, though, this can save you a lot of time and form a valuable relationship with whoever created the curriculum.
There may already be a network in your community. There can sometimes be an oversaturation of similar ministries in an area. Ultimately this can cause confusion and lead to them being less effective. If you look at what already exists in your community and surrounding communities, you may find that an organization is already doing a similar ministry. With this knowledge, you can choose to partner with them or to support them by sending them those who could benefit from the ministry. (For example, if you were trying to open a soup kitchen and discovered that there is already one on your block, you can team up with them to help make it more effective and/or send those you know in need over to the existing one.)
Research can be useful in creating an effective ministry, but it is important that you eventually move out of the research stage and into the implementation stage. One of the great things about research is that you can always come back to it and there are always new things to learn.
While I find the research side of things exciting, it can also be very overwhelming. Because of the wide access there is to knowledge, it can be hard to sift through it all and find what will actually be helpful. One of the best ways to start if you are overwhelmed is to ask those around you. They may have a book or website or another person that will be helpful for what you are doing.
The research stage is personally one of my favorite things when it comes to developing a new ministry, but I do not think it is the most important. Network with others, cultivate resources, but most importantly, trust and follow God’s vision and timing for the ministry. If you keep God at the center, then the research and implementation will be more focused and hopefully easier. When you get stuck, pray it out.
– By Madison Atkinson, OMS Hungary Team Member