by Stan Nussbaum
Nussbaum’s approach focuses on deciding what level of research you need to solve a particular problem.
GMI Research Services, 15435 Gleneagle Drive, Suite 100, Colorado Springs, CO 80921, 2007, 196 pages, $21.95.
—Reviewed by Judith Lingenfelter, professor emeritas of intercultural studies, Biola University, La Mirada, California.
What happens when you feel like you have hit the proverbial wall in your ministry and seem unable to go further? The title of this ambitious research manual accurately reflects its purpose: it is designed to help you break through the wall and move ahead. Stan Nussbaum believes that secular, post-Enlightenment methods fall short in their quest for truth using scientific methods only; instead, he proposes a research method which also takes God into account. Nussbaum has crafted a book which uses knowing the will of God, prayer, and a humble questioning posture as the religious methods Christians can incorporate into the research process. Nussbaum writes that in applying these methods, “we learn to represent Jesus better and to put ourselves into a position where God may grant us a breakthrough in our ministry.”
The book provides ten steps, each in a separate chapter: pray constantly, frame your issue, grab for all the help you can get, design your field research strategy, get R.E.A.L. about your plans, use great questions, listen for all you are worth, draw solid conclusions, take inspired action, and enjoy watching God’s breakthrough. Nussbaum’s approach focuses on deciding what level of research you need to solve a particular problem: small, medium, large, or workshop. He then uses numerous illustrations, icons, proverbs, biblical texts, and cases of Majority World leaders to guide the reader in the decision-making process, which for some will be welcome and for others will get in the way of the text. However, as one who has taught qualitative research for years, Nussbaum’s manual provides an alternative for people to whom the visual speaks more powerfully than just the verbal. Perhaps his greatest contribution lies in his recognition that research is simply structured, focused listening, and the better listeners we are, the more we will learn.
Whether one is writing a doctoral thesis or engaging in research on the field to solve a specific problem, this manual will prove helpful. Nussbaum uses two texts as his reading sources: Viggo Søgaard’s Research in Church and Mission, and Colin Robson’s Real World Research, and he even includes a table of contents for each in an appendix. The manual includes worksheets, prayers for each step, and optional group activities; its format makes it readable and easy to use. Unique approach, lots of good stuff…well worth the investment!
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