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Preface From Dr. Nussbaum's research manual, Breakthrough!

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Preface to the 2nd edition

Everyone learns from his or her experiences in ministry. The aim of this guide is to help people learn more from their experiences than they would have otherwise, and learn it quicker and more easily. If they can solve some of their mysteries, understand their successes, and grow into their ministry roles through the Breakthrough process, their frustrations will go down and their effectiveness will go up. Jesus will be lifted higher than before.

That was the way field research helped me during my work as a Bible teacher with African indigenous churches in Lesotho many years ago. I am grateful to Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission for sponsoring it and the University of South Africa, especially Professor Inus Daneel, for guiding me through it. Ever since that experience, I have been experimenting with various ways of passing on the same skills through workshops, an e-mail course, and now via the 2nd edition of this guide.


The aim of the original work and all the updates is to strengthen two weak areas in mission training. First, the guide provides an additional option for in-service training programs, which are increasingly recognized as valuable supplements to pre-field study and on-field orientation. Second, it tries to overcome the artificial post-Enlightenment dichotomy between pursuing “truth” through scientific methods and pursuing “the will of God” through religious methods. The aim here is to combine scientific and religious approaches in order to get at the “truth” that people in ministry most want to know—God’s guidance in and for their ministry situation.


My thanks (and my sympathies) go to all the pioneers who worked their way through the previous versions. I taught those in five African countries, three Asian, and one each in Europe, North America, and Latin America. I am currently teaching the course in conjunction with masters programs run by Development Associates International (DAI) in several countries and WheatonCollege in Illinois. Individual students from a variety of other agencies have also helped me immensely as they worked through the e-mail version of the Breakthrough course.


This 2nd edition is a major rewrite of the 2007 printed version, streamlining the process, incorporating many suggestions and examples from previous users, and capitalizing on the switch to an electronic format. DAI colleagues David Fraser and Beverley Booth and GMI colleague Mike O’Rear have all been encouraging and helpful during the revision process. Hopefully I have not replaced my old mistakes with new ones. If I have, please do point them out since updates are now possible electronically on an ongoing basis.


Whether or not this guide represents a breakthrough in mission training is for others to judge. But I can pray to that end, and I can ask you to join me in praying that, at least for you personally, it will prove to be so. May your use of this guide turn out to be one of the most profitable training experiences of your life.


Stan Nussbaum
August 2011



A free evaluation copy is available for agencies interested in using the manual as part of their training curriculum. Questions? Write to author Stan Nussbaum at stan(at)

Click here to read a description of the book.

Click here to download the introductory chapter from the book (PDF).