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Personal Coaching for Breakthrough! Research

Also see: Breakthrough! training manual and Breakthrough! workshops

If you like the idea of the Breakthrough! manual but are hesitant to try it on your own, you may apply for admission to GMI's personal coaching service. Successful applicants will be accompanied through the whole Breakthrough process by Dr. Stan Nussbaum, the developer of the Breakthrough! manual.

The value of the coaching is mostly in the opportunities for discussion of the many worksheets and 'decision' points in the printed manual. The e-mail exercises include some questions which are not in the manual itself. For example, on p. 11 in the manual there is a 'decision' point about spiritual self-examination before you start your Breakthrough work. It says, 'How much self-examination time do you need to make sure your heart is right with God? Should you get someone to pray through it with you? Should you follow a book of devotional exercises? Would all that self-searching be a smoke screen for something that you already know perfectly well is your problem?'

If you are using the manual on your own, you would think about these, perhaps do some self-examining, and move on. If you are being coached, you would do the e-mail exercises which repeat this set of questions but add that you do not have to write out answers to them. Instead, the e-mail instructions are, 'In light of these questions, briefly summarize your situation and your plan for self-examination. Implement your plan and report the main activity and result(s).' The coach then comments on what you decided to do, what you learned, and what else you might do.

Coaching involves two exchanges per week. First you submit the week's exercises via e-mail, then get point by point feedback from the coach via e-mail or Skype, usually within 24 hours. You go on to make changes as requested and then get a second round of feedback, including approval to go on to the next step.

For most participants, doing the Breakthrough! process with a personal coach requires about 10 hours per week. This is best done as one whole work day (usually Monday or Tuesday) plus some time later in the week for the 'second draft' work.
You summarize the fruit of your Breakthrough! work in two documents:

  • An academically respectable research report in English of about five pages plus questionnaire and statistics. See sample report.
  • A 'so what' document which summarizes the findings and spells out the implications for the intended audience. See sample 'so what' document

The report and the 'so-what' document focus on what you keep praying for throughout the Breakthrough! process—discovery of breakthrough insights that will lead you to make changes that will result in a breakthrough in the area of your concern.
Personal coaching is available either for the whole 12-week course or, if you have attended a Breakthrough! workshop, for just the final six weeks.


Admission is highly selective because Dr. Nussbaum can only handle a very few Breakthrough projects at one time. Potential applicants are encouraged to find another qualified coach within their own agency if possible. Those applying to GMI Research Services must meet the following requirements:

  • Enough experience in Christian mission to identify a practical problem in his/her setting, and must be in that setting for the last seven weeks of the course. (Note: participants who wish to begin the Breakthrough! process while they are on home assignment may split the course into two parts. They do the first five weeks while on leave, then suspend activity, then do the last seven weeks after returning to the field.)
  • The full backing of his/her employing organization or church as explained on the Endorsement Form. Full-time students are not eligible.
  • Reliable access to e-mail. (Skype is an advantage for the coaching process but is not a factor in determining who gets admitted.)
  • Ability to make himself/herself easily understood in written English.

Steps in Applying for Admission

  • If possible, buy or borrow a copy of the Breakthrough! manual so you can see it for yourself before applying. Click here to order. If you are in a remote location where postal service is very slow or uncertain, you may apply before you see the manual.
  • Look through the manual if you have it or look at a sample chapter here on the web site if you don't. Also look through the Week 1 Exercises to see if this really is the kind of training you want. (Note: these exercises are not identical to the manual.)
  • Discuss the possibilities with your employing mission organization or church to see whether they will allocate some of your working time to this project and appoint the internal supervisor you need. See Endorsement Form.
  • Do the Week 1 Exercises and submit them with your application form, and endorsement form to <[email protected]>.


There is no application fee for the coaching service. If you are accepted into the program, the service fee is $600. It is payable in advance by check or credit card. Checks should be in US dollars, payable to Global Mapping International, and mailed to GMI at 15435 Gleneagle Drive, Ste. 100, Colorado Springs, CO 80921. Click here to pay by credit card.

The first three weeks of work are probationary. If either the coach or the participant is unsatisfied with the process within that period, the coaching service is cancelled and $400 is refunded.

You will need to purchase the Breakthrough! manual ($21.95) if you have not already done so. Two other textbooks are described in detail in the manual so you can decide for yourself whether to purchase them (Sogaard, Research in Church and Mission, and Robson, Real World Research).

Academic credit

GMI Research Services does not grant academic credit for the Breakthrough! course. However, the Breakthrough! course is currently taught by Dr. Nussbaum in three masters programs that do accredit the work for their own students—Wheaton College, World Link Graduate Center (Portland), and Development Associates International (multi-nationally).

If you wish to receive academic credit for your work from your seminary or college, check with the registrar to see whether the work would meet the requirements either as a research methods course or an independent study elective. It involves about 120 hours of work including about 20 hours of interaction with a supervisor. In many systems this will make it roughly equivalent to a 2-hour graduate course.

If you need to submit a course description, you may use the following:

Breakthrough! Research Project Course Description. Skills are developed in research methodology through a field research project related to the student's ministry situation. The project provides experience in the design, execution, write-up and application of relatively uncomplicated research studies in their practical context. In the process, students will develop practical, working knowledge of research terms and concepts.

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