You have heard me state on numerous occasions research is important. The use of the God-given tools we have to understand God’s world is a matter of Kingdom stewardship. We must be BOTH students of God’s Word AND His world. A great deal of my work over the years has been related to social studies. My first book, Missional House Churches, was a study of such ecclesiastical expressions in the U.S. that were both making disciples and planting churches. It was the first, and to this date, only work of its kind. Strangers Next Door (another first and only) examined the migration of unreached people groups to the West, concluding that about 1100 such groups reside in the traditionally western countries and the U.S. is home to the third largest number of such groups, after India and China. Pressure Points addressed twelve macro-level, global issues shaping the face of the Church and mission. Research is near to my heart. In fact, this blog was launched in 2010 to distribute my study of evangelical concentrations and church to population ratios in the 50 states and select metro areas, counties, and select Canadian locations.
Why do I share this trip down memory lane? To draw attention to the significance of social research. John Mayer states, “You can’t do the prayer, care, and share if you don’t know they’re there.” The irony is that while the U.S. has been, and continues to be, studied from what seems to be every angle under the sun, missiological research is very limited in this country. Outside of the U.S., it is a different story. For example, we have better information on an unreached people group living in the Himalayans than we do on that same group living in the U.S.
John Mayer has been part of changing the status quo. Over the past several years, I have admired his work. Now in its 17th edition, Cityview Report: Strategic Data for Effective Ministry, covering the Greater Twin Cities Metro Area, has been released. Mayer continues to compile important matters for both established church ministry and church planting in his context. My challenge to you:
— Get a copy of this book HERE even if you do not live or serve in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Check out the extensive contents of the book HERE. Mayer’s model serves as a means to think about urban research for mission.
— Consider doing research in your own community, even to a lesser degree. Some of you have already done such work. However, some of you have the vision and means to do such work. Consider learning from Mayer and get started.
— Do not sit on your research, but make it public. Even those not residing in your context will benefit from your method of study and research findings. I once sat in a denominational meeting in which some of the most extensive and important research findings were shared related to evangelism and church planting needs in the U.S. However, after the results were shared (representing countless hours of study and valuable information), the researchers were told to put their findings on the shelf and not release them. Leadership feared churches in the South, which provided large financial contributions to the denomination’s work, would be offended because the findings revealed the greatest needs were not in the South. Pathetic and Foolish! My response? I did the research myself and gave it away when I launched this blog in 2010 (see link above). Don’t sit on your findings, even if they are not what you desired! Such is a matter of Kingdom stewardship. The 5 billion remain!
This post written by J.D. Payne and originally posted at https://www.jdpayne.org/2021/04/know-your-city/, and used by permission of J.D. Payne.
Photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash.