Expatriate Workers in the Arabic-speaking World: A Mixed-Methods Study of Fruitful Practices
By Gene Daniels, Boutros Al Bustani, and Mary James
Since 2007, Fruitful Practice Research has been using mixed methods research to study church planting in the Muslim world. Our primary findings have been expressed in 68 practices that are consistently observed among successful church planters in the Muslim world. This report is one of a series that will examine some of our recent findings in specific regional contexts; in this case the Arabic-speaking world.
The reasons for this regionally focused report are many, and events in the region are one of them. The Arab Bloc comprised almost a third of the Fruitful Practice survey respondents. The past few years have brought the Arab world is under the intense focus of international media. We pray this will translate into increased interest in ministry to this part of the Muslim world. With this in mind, we believe the time is right for a study on best practices which is focused specifically on the Arabic-speaking Muslim world. The contents of this report may be summarized as follow:
- The majority of the original Fruitful Practices are affirmed in this region.
Fifty-six of the original sixty-eight Fruitful Practices were found to be affirmed by workers in the Arabic-speaking world. Not only this, but of the 15 most highly affirmed practices, 12 were also “highly affirmed” in this region. Thus we can say that despite many regional differences, successful church planting among Muslim peoples has much commonality across its wide sociolinguistic range.
- A polarizing issue partly untangled
There has been much controversy over whether or not workers should use the Qur’an in their witness, and if so, how they should use it. Our latest round of research throws some important light on this issue.
- Regional difference in the way discipleship is done.
Responses to this category of practices demonstrated the widest statistical differences of workers’ opinions of any in our study. However, two of these differences particular seem to have missiological significance.
- A lower value on reproducible mentoring
Workers in the Arabic-speaking world placed a noticeably lower value on the practice of mentoring leaders who would in turn mentor others. The implications of this need to be examined.
- The role of Bible study in witness
Generally speaking, workers in this region were less likely to use Bible study as part of their witness than workers in other regions. However, what stands out is that there was a very large difference in the responses of fruitful and not-yet-fruitful workers in the region.
We believe the findings in this report will encourage those already working in the Arabic-speaking region, as well as help inform those who God may be calling there at this critical time.