Our soul business

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by Rose-Marie Leslie, Major –

Not long ago I came upon an article in the Chicago Tribune, November 23, 2007, that caught my attention. It was titled: A business model for saving souls. It reported on a survey conducted by the Willow Creek church to research why some of its members had become unsatisfied on their spiritual journeys. Willow Creek had used a business marketing model originally designed “to find what emotionally drives consumers to buy perfume, running shoes and insurance” to place each of its members on a spectrum of belief and then pinpoint what kind of spiritual formation was needed for each believer.

I was drawn to this article because, for the past few months, the Territorial Women’s Ministries Department has been visiting the divisions conducting training sessions that we have entitled “Our Soul Business.” Designed to reinforce the expectations and guidelines for Women’s Ministries in the territory, the underlying premise of the seminar is the stewardship of the people, particularly women, of our corps and community. We use the analogy of a shoe store and, like Willow Creek, apply a business model for achieving the “bottom line”.

Some may question the use of business principles in relation to the church, but is there not value to having a deliberate plan for bringing people into the fellowship of the church and for caring for them?

Is it not a good thing, for example, to have a mission statement? The mission statement describes the thrust of a business and gives a clear picture of what the business is all about. In the church we are about saving souls, and everything about our programs is designed to undergird this fundamental purpose. Our mission statement inspires us to “go into all the world and make disciples” and “to care for the dying.” We must be succeeding in the mission if we are to stay in business.

We can also learn from the market analysis concept used by Willow Creek. There is value in identifying the target market, and conducting a competitive analysis—especially in an age when the competition for people’s eyes, ears, and souls is so intense. The Women’s Ministries department is already right in line with such a business strategy. We know the distinguishing characteristics of the primary market we are targeting and we offer a variety of program avenues—BabySong, Bible study, support groups, “Win One Woman” (WOW) campaign—to convince women and their families that our product is more beneficial, more enjoyable and more rewarding than any other, for we aim to bring eternal satisfaction by introducing them to Christ.

And since this work of soul saving is of such supreme importance, should we not seek to present the very highest qualifications for the work entrusted to us? Paul tells Timothy, “do the work of an evangelist; [and] make full proof of your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5). Our resumes should demonstrate that we are qualified for the task of implementing the Great Commission as outlined in Matthew 28:19-20. Our purpose must be clear and unwavering, for purpose guides action. As Jesus says in Luke 2:49: “We must be about our father’s business” (KJV). The work of leading souls to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ must be our “sole” business and focus. Our education must demonstrate a working knowledge of the Scriptures for the soul-winner must believe the Bible, know and study it, and be able to apply it. As Paul tells Timothy, ”the holy Scriptures…have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus…and is useful to teach what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives” (2 Timothy 3:15-16, NLT). Finally, our experience must highlight an indisputable assurance of salvation, an indomitable life of prayer, and an irrefutable dependence on God as we seek to follow his commands.

Have you been faithful to God, faithful to your own soul, and the souls of others? Are you on soul business?

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