To invade a hostile territory, we must first know the territory and develop the best plan for advancement. We need wisdom and discernment along with effective strategies in order to accomplish the task. This is where spiritual mapping comes in. Spiritual mapping is like reconnaissance which, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, is "an inspection of a region to examine its terrain or to determine the disposition of military forces."
In Luke chapter 8 verse 11, Jesus compares the word of God to a seed planted in soil. As Jesus told the parable of the soils to the disciples, He described how different types of soil responded to the seed of the word in different ways. Just as we would prepare the soil of a garden in order to grow healthy plants, so the "soil" of a particular city or region needs to be prepared in order to see the seed of the gospel take root and bear fruit. It doesn't make sense to throw seed on concrete, so why do we think seeds of the gospel will bear fruit when thrown out in an environment that has not been plowed and cultivated spiritually?
A major train of thought running through this book relates to the subversive activity of the corporate spirit of religion. In most of the chapters I pointed out how the corporate spirit of religion attempts to keep leaders from moving into God's new wineskins.
When Esther's words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: "Do not think that because you are in the king's house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:12-14)
You may know from first-hand experience that conflict among Christians is costly. But just how costly is it? I admit that it is difficult to quantify the spiritual cost of conflict-how do you measure the pain, suffering, and diminished witness caused by Christians who fight one another? Yet as I've looked at several studies in the United States, I think that it is possible (and reasonable) to estimate the more tangible costs of conflict. I believe you will find it both eye-opening and sobering.
Conflict can be seen in two ways that are fundamentally different. One way is to look at it as an inevitable negative experience that we should simply endure. The other view of conflict sees it as an opportunity that God can use to accomplish much good.
Using business as a vehicle for missions and ministry is not new. The apostle Paul, for example, was a full time leather worker during much of his missionary career. A study of his letters reveals that working was more than a way to support himself; it was a central part of his missionary strategy. Preaching the gospel for free added credibility to his message and served as a model for his converts to follow (see 1 Cor. 9:12-18). Similarly, centuries ago, Christian monks integrated work and ministry by tilling fields, clearing forests and building roads, while also tending to the sick, the orphaned and the imprisoned, protecting the poor, and teaching the children. As villages and towns sprang up around the monasteries, the communities were transformed as they incorporated many of these same social concerns. And even as recently as the nineteenth century, many early Protestants integrated business and other secular occupations into their mission strategies.
I have been immersed in this experience of serving Christ through business for thirty years, first as an experiment but then, as a conviction and call. And during that time, I have made just about every mistake that can be made and watched others make the ones that I hadn't thought of. But along that bumpy road, I've learned a thing or two and I am blessed to share it with you here.
Aaron was a good employee. He worked in our shipping/receiving area, primarily third shift. He contracted cancer and fought it for a year before dying at the age of 26.
Aaron had no family living nearby, nor was he part of a local faith community. When his health crisis struck, our company chaplain shared the love of Jesus Christ with Aaron and his family, helped them cope throughout the year, and provided the family with an oasis of solace after his death. We at Zion Industries all cared for Aaron, but it was our chaplain who spent time with him, in the hospital and at home. We all could share many good stories about Aaron, but it was our chaplain who really knew him and who performed the funeral service. We, as a company, made some difference in the life of an employee and his family, but it was our chaplain who made a lasting difference.
It seems for some reason unknown to me that I have recently been placed in the company of a number of Christians who have presented me with a version of the following position as regards to witnessing - "I don't witness verbally, I just live my life (or let Christ live His life through me) and wait for others to see the difference in me and ask me why I am acting as I am." I call this the "walk-only" position on Christian witness. This is certainly not something new to me; I have heard it many times before. But at the moment I feel constrained to address it and to do so in the negative. As I do, please notice that for this segment I am speaking in the personal first person voice as I know, and want to stress, that this message applies to me as much as anyone.