1. Introduction

Higher education exists to help students learn, and to help them find the knowledge that others have recorded (i.e., how to do research). We at GCS want to teach, but we are also interested in helping you learn to do your own research by seeking out, analyzing, and using knowledge yourself. This skill is especially important for those engaged in Christian ministry.

Christian ministry takes us out of the campus-based academic setting and into many places in the world where instructors, libraries, and other traditional sources of information are not readily available. From small towns, to inner city neighborhoods, to the mission field, and many other places throughout the world, most of our Christian ministry takes place in environments where we will not have easy access to information.

Learning to use the resources that are available where we are, including internet-based resources, is an important part of preparing for Christian ministry as well as learning to be a good student. This paper is designed to help you get started in the process of learning to do research outside the traditional, campus-based, academic environment.

There are two basic steps to research: 1) identifying sources that have the information you need and 2) then accessing those sources.

For example:

Step one: Identifying a source that has information I need: If I were writing a paper on Thomas Torrance’s understanding of “covenanted response,” I might start by looking at one of his books, Incarnation. Torrance mentions this concept of “covenanted response” on page 40 of that book and there is a footnote on that page that refers the reader to another book by Torrance called The Mediation of Christ. By reading Incarnation and looking at that footnote, I have identified a source (The Mediation of Christ) that has information that may help me. That is step one.

Step two: Accessing that source: Assume for this example that I do not own a copy of The Mediation of Christ. I will need to purchase it, borrow it from a library, or, perhaps, access some of its content online. That is step two.

Section one of this paper offers advice on step one, identifying sources, and section two offers advice on step two, how to locate and access those sources.