Your Mission Starts with #ThrivingPeople


Exuberant, flourishing missionaries can have such an incredible impact on the Kingdom, if they stay in the mission field. Our survey provides your mission organization with the ability to reach into the hearts of your staff and find out if they are truly thriving.

All of us here at GMI are very excited about the launch of our latest project. It is a Field Missionary-Friendly employee survey called Engage.

We teamed up with Best Christian Workplaces to create this customized assessment to help agencies understand their global staff and make Spirit-led decisions to help them thrive. You may remember us doing this survey almost a decade ago, but it is revamped and even better this time around.

“The Engage Study is the best way to measure the health of those on your front line and strategically focus your resources to improve their effectiveness. The return on your investment in Engage could be significant.  Best Christian Workplaces Institute is thrilled to join with GMI to serve leaders supporting those ministering on the front lines,” said Al Lopus, Best Christian Workplaces Institute president. (GMI Press Release)

We launch the survey fully later this week at the Missio Nexus Conference.


As the latest Casting Crowns song, “Thrive,” goes, “We know we were made for so much more than ordinary lives. It’s time for us to more than just survive. We were made to thrive!” This is not only true in our everyday lives, but also in the mission field.

We, as brothers and sisters in Christ, all desire to see the unreached people of the world hear the great news of the Gospel and for peoples of all different origins and countries become disciples of Jesus. But this can only be achieved with effective missionaries that are empowered by the Holy Spirit, and thriving people is where it starts.

What does thriving people mean to you and your mission agency? This is the tagline of our campaign and we want to hear what you think thriving people equals. With fun photo contests on social media and at the Missio Nexus Conference, we are trying to raise awareness about the idea of thriving people.

What difference do thriving people make? You know the answer but what are you doing about it? Will you Engage with your missionaries and learn from what they have to say? Your mission depends on it!


Connect with us at for the full description along with prices, information about our #ThrivingPeople social media contest, and more!

Find us on Facebook, and You Tube,

How Can You Personalize Missions Recruitment? Understanding Five Categories of Searchers

Among all the possible workers for your ministry, how can you sift through those who have potential and personalize your connection with them?

Your website strategy and process for gathering contact information online can help you focus on those most likely to serve with your agency.

GMI research on the attributes of those searching has yielded five distinct profiles of searchers. Understanding and addressing the needs of each of these segments helps you develop specific strategies for each segment.


Scouts are serious about missions someday — when they finish school, pay off debt or obtain workplace experience that could equip them for service. The objective in creating a web experience for Scouts is to build engagement so that when the time for serving arrives, your agency has top of mind awareness.

Scouts are interested in understanding the identity of agencies and discovering resources that may be helpful to them — and others — as they proceed along their journey.


Strategists have clear focus and goals as they are exploring mission opportunities. Their actions on your agency website are designed to help them answer this basic question: “Does this agency do the kind of mission work that I feel led to do?”

Clarity of purpose leads Strategists to seek out specifics about what an agency is doing, how it is going about the work, and how they might fit into the picture.


Enthusiasts are excited about the prospect of cross-cultural ministry. Enthusiasts typically take time to explore your website and all aspects of your agency’s identity, including vision, focus, strategy, and beliefs.

A distinctive of the enthusiasts is that they are interested in specific information about opportunities for service (both short- and long-term), requirements and salary structure. They want to picture what it would look like for them to serve through your agency.

Faith Matchers

Theology matters more to some searchers than others. Faith Matchers believe their affinity with an organization’s statement of faith is an essential screening mechanism for considering a particular missions agency. Once the doctrinal questions are answered, Faith Matchers will explore mission and vision, geographical focus and cross-cultural mission opportunities, both long-term and short-term.


Tourists are focused on short-term opportunities as their avenue for cross-cultural engagement. This segment is experiential and wants to understand what a short-term opportunity would offer them. They want media-rich sites so they can see what happens in the field.

Agencies that offer a variety of short-term opportunities should develop a specific web strategy related to Tourists.

Segments and Strategy

While you may focus on one or two segments of searchers, a deeper understanding of all the segments can spark creative engagement strategies. Emphasizing key segments is important for effective recruiting, but understanding and accommodating a variety of paths to service can multiply your efforts.


Want to read more from Searching to Serve: Recruiting Kingdom Workers Online? The full report gives specific web strategies that your organization can use. Click the link to read more about the book by James Nelson and Carla Foote and purchase your copy today!

International Literacy Day: What do Oral Learners do in a World of Words


The majority of Africa, along with a few other countries, has a literacy rate of 75% or less. However, approximately 80% of the world (5.7 billion people) is classified as primarily oral communicators (

Why are so many people oral communicators? Technology. Andy Butcher states, “And in parts of the world with long-term high literacy rates, many younger people prefer to listen to, watch, or discuss something rather than read about it” (page 51, Seeing Your World). People, especially the youth, just don’t like reading.

Words and Women

Technology is not the only reason, however. The inability to access education also creates a barrier to literacy. This hindrance has caused women and girls to make up 2/3 of the world’s illiterate population due to their lack of access to education.

Not only that, but many women are faced with the responsibilities and duties of being the sole providers and care-takers for their families. (see Female Head of Household Map on page 14).  In addition to all of the stress and limitations, mothers are “victims of all evils within communities and societies,” according to Waghmare (page 17).  This in turn can lead to women having poor health and further decreasing their chance to become literate.

Spoken Possibilities

As technology becomes increasingly more advanced and spreads into areas of low literacy rates, it also becomes simpler and easier to use for both literates and non-literates.  Examples of this can be seen in all the latest smartphones and apps.  Siri, equipped with speaking capabilities, can speak and type the information that you requested.  The information is then available to both someone who can read and to someone who cannot.  Also, all apps are represented on a tablet, iPad, smartphone, etc. as icons (sometimes with or without words), rather than just a word or words.  These new advances encourage orality rather than literacy.

Reframing Evangelism and Discipleship

The Church has had a large focus on developing literate Christian leaders so that they could be more effective thinkers and doers.  Stan Nussbaum, an expert in African Missions, thinks differently.  His thoughts on this traditional development “has been tragically handicapped by attaching it so exclusively to literate methods” (page 53).  Literate methods are still needed and very important to global missions; however, a focus on non-literate tactics in areas where the people are primarily oral communicators could see tremendous success.


To learn more about Seeing Your World or to purchase a copy, please visit

Is Your Ministry Challenge a Puzzle or a Mystery

The type of research and thinking required in global mission has fundamentally shifted and few have taken notice. I don’t say this to be controversial, I say it because today I see people asking last century’s questions and hoping for 21st Century insight.

Most of our line of inquiry in mission is assuming that we simply do not have the information and need to collect it in order to understand our world better and make decisions. This was the case in the mid-1900′s when the amount of activity and complexity of the activity were fairly limited. In those days the question, “Where is the church and where is it not?” “How many Christians are there in a given country or province?” “Where is a Scripture translation underway and where is a translation needed?”

In today’s globalized world the complexity is much higher but the amount of information we have is also exponentially greater. Today’s complex world requires us to ask questions that will overlay various pieces of the information already collected to give us insight to very specific situations.

The difference between a line of research defined by a lack of information and a line of research defined by multiple streams of complex or conflicting information is described in Malcolm Gladwell’s New Yorker article, “Open Secrets” (reprinted in his book “What the Dog Saw”). In this article Gladwell applies Gregory Treverton’s principle of “Puzzles vs. Mysteries.” Simply put, when solving a puzzle the main ingredient needed is more information. However, when solving a mystery the main ingredient needed is insight.” Gladwell goes on to give very practical examples. Finding Osama Bin Laden was a puzzle whereas understanding Enron’s fall was a mystery. The first required information in the form of intelligence. The second required people to go through mind-numbing amounts of publicly filed paperwork and understand the complex financial tools being employed in risky ways.

In the missions world today, we have fewer puzzles and more mysteries. There are still places in the world where we simply need more information. There are countries like Laos, North Korea or parts of India where we truly need more basic information about the Church and the status of the Gospel. However, for most of the world you can get this information at one level or another.

Our greater challenge involves the mysteries of mission. For instance, “How do we know when a church is sustainable?” “What triggers growth in a national Church?” “How do we measure and understand discipleship?” “How do we reach a people group when so many are in cities and in diaspora communities?”

For each of these items we have a myriad of data points, on-the-ground stories and theories. The challenge is to work through the data and the complex situations to try and come up with possible ways to understand these questions and make decisions based on that understanding.

If what Gladwell described is really the situation facing mission, that has significant implications for the mission community. For one thing, we need fewer counters and more analysts. We need fewer people out collecting data in the field and more people analyzing what we already have. We also need people who are able to understand complex cultural, religious and geopolitical realities.

Secondly, those of us in leadership need to recognize the difference between the puzzles and mysteries and think strategically about what we are trying to solve. Many of us are mobilizing the resources necessary to solve a puzzle when we really have a mystery on our hands.

The last century required persistent puzzle solvers but this new century will require inquisitive detectives who love a good mystery. Do you have any good detectives in your mission agency? If not, now is the time to start looking.

The People Have Spoken - Top 5 Missiographics

Last September we launched our Missiographics Service. So instead of sending out a new infographic this week, we decided to bring together the 5 most popular ones we have produced based on the amount of people that have viewed them. These infographics provide very unique information on topics ranging from church planting, globalization and growth of the church in Brazil and Indonesia.

We hope that taking another look at these will give you the chance to engage with the content in a deeper way, allowing you to revitalize your mission efforts with our research findings. Also, for those of you who are new to our bi-monthly emails, our prayer is that this Top 5 collection will give you a quick look at what Missiographics are about along with providing possibly some of the most relevant information we have collected thus far.

NOTE: Click on the image to visit the Missiographic Page on our site.

1. Global Bible Searches - What Are People Searching For?

Have you ever wondered what passages people around the world were searching for?
Thanks to Bible Gateway (, we are able to bring you that information so that you can get to know the people you are trying to reach better.






2. What Roles Should Individuals and Nations Play in Global Church Planting?

Church planting can seem fairly simple, but many questions arise like who, where, when, and how. This infographic, thanks to the Global Church Planting Network, will help you understand the size of the challenge, the types of roles needed and some examples of who should fill them.






3. Indonesia: THINK BIG!

Indonesia is a vastly underrated country for how BIG it is. This infographic will help you better understand the religious makeup, population, geography, and more.








4. Brazil: An Emerging Force in Global Mission

Brazil has been in the headlines a great deal recently, from the World Cup and the upcoming Olympics to economics and poor living conditions. But did you know that the Brazilian Church has been impacting the mission field immensely?






5. On Mission in a Moving World

In the world today, there are many people moving from place to place, and a large amount of them are moving due to extreme pressure from war, trafficking, and others. This infographic will help you meet them where they are now.

Building Your Own Infographics - A Review of Two Web Services

Guest Post: Nathaniel McComb, GMI Intern - Summer 2014

For many ministries and organizations, infographics are a growing resource for sharing data and information with the world. Some organizations, though, may not have the budget to hire graphic designers or other specialists to make what they need. Luckily, there are websites available that can help with this problem, two of which I will focus on and review here. The two websites, Piktochart ( and (, are both free-to-use sources for creating infographics.

Piktochart, as mentioned, is an easy to use website for producing infographics. The website offers four templates for different styles of presentation, depending on the desired use. These include a standard infographic template, a report template (helpful for condensing necessary information within a specific page limit), a banner template (more akin to a poster, useful for making announcements or advertisements) and a presentation template, which fits the information in a frame style similar to other presentation software (Microsoft Powerpoint, for example).

Once a template is selected, you are brought to the main workspace for creating the infographic. This area is very user-friendly, with multiple sidebar tabs containing many different styles of text, graphics, and other components. There are a full range of tools to use, including editable charts and maps, as well as the ability to add video. The template itself is quite user-friendly as well. The template area is broken up into “blocks” (which are themselves smaller work areas), allowing for easy navigation between multiple areas on the infographic.

This website seems to have a strong focus on creative freedom. The various graphics and icons, as well as multiple options for customizing backgrounds, colors, and fonts, allow a user to be as creative with their infographic as they would like. Piktochart also has various options in regard to downloading your infographics (including JPEG and PNG file types). Downloading your infographic is not the only way of making it available, as there is an option for sharing it through Piktochart’s website.

Piktochart has a subscription payment option for those who would like to get more out of the website. At $29/month (or $290/year), the website allows a third file type for download (PDF), as well as the removal of the Piktochart watermark from user-made infographics.

Now looking at, there are a few key distinctions. For, the overall focus seems to be less on graphics and other visual aspects, primarily allowing these factors to support the data and information.

Regarding templates, this website has 6 main color schemes to create new infographics. The layout of the workspace is one continuous work area (in contrast to Piktochart’s “block”-style), which can be helpful (or cumbersome) depending on the length of the infographic. also allows the use of charts, maps, and videos to be used in creating infographics.

As mentioned, this website does not focus as much attention on creative expression. There are no options for adding or placing shapes or other icons, and the color and font styles are usually limited to the choice of design template. This may not be a disadvantage, though, depending on the type of infographic needed (i.e. if you would like a streamlined, data-focused infographic, may be a good choice).

One very important aspect of that must be mentioned (and, as I saw it, highly inconvenient) is the download option. Without signing up for either of the two payment options, you cannot download your infographic in any format. This does not mean you cannot do anything at all with the infographic, though. You can share your infographic by posting it through the website. Along with the ability to download, the first tier subscription (which costs $18/ month) allows for using real-time data, private sharing, and opens up four more design templates. The second tier subscription (called “White Label”, $50/month) allows all the aspects of the first tier subscription, plus the ability to remove the watermark, remove the default share buttons, and add a custom logo to the infographic.

As I see it, both websites are helpful for creating infographics on your own. Depending on your desired style, length, or level of creative expression, one website may trump the other. Likewise, one or the other may be preferred regarding the method of sharing your infographic (where through sharing it through either website, or downloading it and sharing it through specific channels in that way). Overall, Piktochart and can both be useful tools for many organizations and ministries in sharing data or other information.

Enabled to Attempt

“What God expects us to attempt he also enables us to achieve, and committed Christians have proved it throughout the centuries. So let us take heart in knowing that the grace of giving is also the grace for giving.” Stephen F. Olford

One of the biggest decisions we must make as followers of Christ is what God desires us to attempt. There are so many things we might do with our career and our time, but what is God asking us to do?

This takes a level of Kingdom focus and spiritual discernment that is not common in today’s Christian discipline. We have been so programmed by the world’s definitions of success, that what we attempt usually has more to do with worldly success than Kingdom impact.

But this is the challenge. How do we set aside the world’s criteria for success and attempt great things for God? They may look foolish or insignificant in light of what the world values, but those are the things that God will bless.

As GMI continues to go through our transition as an organization, this is one of our great challenges. We must ask God to help us see what He is empowering us to attempt and then have faith that He will give us the strength to achieve it.

What is God asking you to attempt? Do you believe He will empower you to achieve it?

When the status quo changes

Many times our world changes. Trends that have been happily unfolding for years or even decades finally shift. And these changes never fail to surprise us. How do you deal with these changes?

Sometimes it is easier to embrace them than others. Sometimes we have a lot riding on keeping things the same. In those moments we hold on to the status quo with all our energy. In other moments when change is in the air we are more open.

Today we are experiencing many changes to established trends and assumptions. One of those is global population. We have gotten used to skyrocketing population and the talk of an ever-more crowded planet. But that is changing. We are soon to be a much older planet. There are a lot of reasons for this and you can watch an excellent TED video on this subject here. But the bottom line is that our understanding of the world’s population is changing.

So how will this impact your ministry? There are a million small ways. But you won’t really understand any of them if you don’t first consider your assumptions and look at how the status quo is changing. Take a moment to check out our latest infographic on the change in population and consider how you will respond.

A Tribute to a Lifelong Learner

People are complex. You can stand up and talk about someone for an hour and the minute you sit down you remember 20 more things about them. That is why I love people. God makes each one of us in this insanely unique way that cannot be replicated but always amazes.

Today (January 14) is the second anniversary of Mike O’Rear’s sudden passing. It is a time to remember Mike and be inspired by the way God made him and prepared him for service. And if each of you reading this post who knew him would stand up and share, you would each teach those in the room about the unique person you experienced and spent time with.

Since taking the role of CEO at GMI, I have gotten to know Mike in a very unique way. I spent time with him before his death, but for the past year and a half I have lived in the footsteps he would have walked. I have talked with the donors he would have visited. I have been on the airplanes he would have boarded. I have prayed through the decisions he would have made. I did not respond as he would have . . . I’m a unique creation as well. But that fact allows me to appreciate him all the more.

One of the things that continues to amaze me about Mike’s life was his commitment to be a lifelong learner. He was always asking questions, researching and probing the issues of the day.

An example of this lifelong learning discipline was in his regular column with Dr. Scott Moreau in Evangelical Missions Quarterly (EMQ) called “Mission Resources on the Web.” In these articles Mike and Scott scoured the Internet and brought some of the best resources on different subjects to the table for EMQ readers to feast . . . and what a feast they served up!

As I was remembering Mike this week, I decided to pull out a bunch of these EMQ articles and look through them. I was amazed at the detail, breath and depth of engagement that they both brought to the issues. Mike brought that same level of engagement to his work at GMI; which is evidenced by the fact that I still use his notes, contacts and files as important references in my work today.

So to highlight and celebrate Mike’s passion for learning, I decided I would pull out the April issues of EMQ for the years of 2002-2007 and list below the diverse topics that he and Scott tackled. If you get a chance to dig into the digital archives or look back over your old copies of EMQ, don’t miss spending some time with Mike through these articles:

  • April 2002: Missions Fundraising
  • April 2003: Theology of Mission on the Web
  • April 2004: And So the Story Goes . . . Web Resources on Storytelling, Myths and Proverbs
  • April 2005: Oceania On the Web
  • April 2006: Browsing Virtual Libraries and Book Collections
  • April 2007: Missions-related News on the Web

I’m grateful to Mike for his inquisitive mind and willingness to ask the hard questions. I’m also grateful that he made this investment to share what he was learning. So now we must ask what we will learn from this faithful Christian who gave his life to mission.

How are you planning to invest in lifelong learning as you begin this New Year?