Is research really necessary for effective mission work?

Is research really necessary for effective mission work?quote box2

Several friends shared 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:

“Well… let me know what is the best street corner, and the best time to be there, and some idea of their cultural distinctives, background and language of the people that frequent that street corner … because we do want to be most relevant and efficient so we’ll need some basic info so we won’t waste resources of time, money and materials, and then maybe that could be a good idea.”

After a good pause, and with a big smile the board member said,

“Hey…you guys keep doing what you’re doing. Thanks for sharing that with me.”

In part, the fruitfulness of mission work depends on good information about the people being discipled. With good information, workers can be in the right place, at the right time, with a relevant, understandable message that offers hope and promotes biblical transformation. Thus understood, research indeed aids effective mission work.


This anecdote was published in “The quarterly bulletin of the Global Community of Mission Information Workers” Volume 4, Number 4, October 2014 The Community of Mission Information Workers is a task force of the WEA Mission Commission:

Bob Waymire went on to found Global Mapping International:

Bob Waymire and Jim Montgomery were both leaders with OC International at the time:


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