SOULS Northwest: A Fresh Focus on Local Outreach

April 24, 2014 | Jason Worf

Many of the thousands of people surrounding our churches will never hear the truth of Jesus’ soon return unless we share with them personally. These are the “all the world” that Jesus told us to baptize and disciple. But how do we start? How do we overcome our fears and doubts and lack of experience?

We can’t just hire someone to do the work for us — that’s expensive and only deepens our individual lack of involvement in gospel work. There are just too many people who need to hear about Christ for paid church workers to reach them — all of us need to be reaching out to share the gospel. But to be effective we need training, motivation, and someone to help organize and structure the work of outreach evangelism in our churches — we need outreach leaders.

Enter SOULS Northwest, the North Pacific Union’s outreach leadership school. The goal is to develop capable, experienced and visionary lay leadership for the local church. The model is a practical, two-year training experience with academically rigorous classes and more than 2,000 hours of mentored ministry experience. Students learn practical skills like how to teach, motivate and organize church volunteers. They gain a sound footing in Bible doctrines as well as how to study the Bible with others. SOULS provides training for all forms of personal evangelism such as Bible instruction, literature evangelism, health ministries and helping the poor, with the expectation that our graduates will assist churches in connecting already-thriving church programs like CHIP (Complete Health Improvement Program) and Adventist Community Services with an in-home ministry model.

SOULS Northwest is intentional about training its students in the context of real-world ministry — not just designing the “model” that our staff members think will work best. Since every church is unique, our students must learn principles that can be applied to different settings and church cultures and will work in any context. For this reason much of the field experience our students receive happens with groups of two students working in churches here in the Northwest.

As Ellen White explains, “Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, 'Follow Me'” (Ministry of Healing, 143).

It’s this personal contact, the one-on-one mingling, sympathizing, ministering and calling to follow Jesus, that SOULS Northwest is training leaders to facilitate. Most students who graduate SOULS Northwest will enter the gospel ministry not as pastors or public evangelists but as Bible-worker trainers and outreach leaders hired by the local church.

SOULS Northwest is a self-funded ministry of the North Pacific Union that is totally funded by student tuition. Our goal is that students will be able to graduate debt-free. To enable this we use literature evangelism as both a training tool for personal work as well as a source of funding so students can pay their way as they go through school.

Read the stories of three young people currently at SOULS: