The Tool Box
When my partner and I began Sunrise in 1983, my vision was to build a company that would last by organizing it for long term growth and stability. To do this, I broke an important rule taught by experts. Engineering is a highly competitive business. To be successful, most experts say companies must specialize in one thing. Find a nitch that you are good at and then claim unique expertise for projects needing that specialty. You thereby become the top rung on the ladder. After all, a buyer wants the best for his project. Then you only have to be price competitive in your specialty and buyers will reward you with contracts. Experts counsel to be narrow and deep with experience and expertise.
My business model was to diversify. At the time, we provided civil engineering services for water development and water treatment projects plus land surveying. When I retired we operated 15 independent business units that specialized in a broad spectrum of engineering and non-engineering services. Our bread and butter was still the original civil engineering, but we also offered such services as electrical engineering, materials testing, building and safety inspections, natural gas compliance services, land survey using satellite and laser technology, hydroelectric design, etc. This diversification really helped us to ride out various economic cycles, but it made business development difficult. We appeared broad and thin with experience and expertise. Buyers do not generally want a “Jack of All Trades” so they could easily perceive us as weak.
One of our marketing methods to combat this perceived weakness was the “Tool Box.” We compared Sunrise, the company, to a Tool Box. We described how when doing a mechanical repair, one opens various drawers of a tool box to use the specific tools they need. Our Tool Box had 15 drawers representing our business units or specialties. Each tool represented specific capabilities and people in each business unit. We showed how our Tool Box made us stronger to do their project but the client only paid for the tools he used out of a specific drawer, and so forth. You get the idea; it was a great metaphor. Business development always includes the need to differentiate yourself from your competitors and show your unique strengths including: expertise of people, experience, approach to the work and value. We would often give a tool to each members of a selection committee, to begin our presentation before their decision to hire an engineer. We definitely were remembered and clearly differentiated ourselves. It was fun.
The Tool Box concept has several interesting comparisons to missionary work. I want to compare it to your teaching. So our Tool Box has 5 drawers representing the 5 lessons you must teach from Chapter 3 of PMG. Each tool represents each concept taught in each of the 5 lessons. Your job is to assist each progressing investigator to use, understand and value each tool in each drawer in our Tool Box. PMG states your duty as a missionary regarding teaching out of the Tool Box:
“Your responsibility is to teach clearly and powerfully so they [investigators] can make a correct choice.” (p. 10)
“The  lessons (found in chapter 3) contain the baptismal interview questions, commitments, and doctrines that you are to teach.” (p. 19)
“Make sure that you teach all the doctrines in these lessons. Unless directed by the Spirit, you should give the full content of each of the first three lessons in the order in which they are written. (p. 30)
Therefore, you must teach the lesson concepts as outlined in PMG with clarity and with power. The concepts are normally taught in the order in which they are written and not an impromptu buffet to pick and choose. Personal inspiration is honored here but teaching concepts out of order from the lesson should rarely occur. Investigators make sense out of what you are teaching, by attaching the new information back to what they already know. For example, why would you teach the 3 degrees of glory, for example, when the investigator does not understand or has not begun growing a testimony that God even exists?
The apostle Paul said:
2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. (1 Cor 3:2)
We must improve teaching for better understanding. Remember the parable of the sower, the seed that fell on good ground and produced many fold, was, “…he that heard the word and understood it…” (Matt 13: 23)
I go back to the funnel theory we use in the mission. Imagine a funnel with the wide entrance on top with the narrow exit on the bottom. The top width represents the number of contacts you make. You try to make the funnel entrance as big as possible counted by the 100’s of contacts you make each week. As people move from top to bottom through the funnel, they go through a process of qualification. People transition from a contact as they enter the funnel, to a potential, to receiving a lesson, to an investigator, to a progressing investigator, to an investigator keeping commitments, to baptism. The funnel narrows from top to bottom due to leakage. Leakage is people dropping out of investigation. Finally the number of baptisms as people move out of the funnel at the bottom are counted by 1’s and 2’s.
Once your spiritual performance is properly set, there are 2 ways to increase your currently mediocre baptism success. You increase the width of the funnel with new potentials so, given a set leakage rate, the odds are that the baptism width at the bottom will also be wider. The other way to increase baptisms is to improve your ability to teach with clarity and power thereby reducing the leakage. Reducing leakage assumes some investigators who would have dropped out make it to baptism because of improved clarity and power in teaching.
Many missionaries have challenges to consistently teach with clarity and power. To fix this, you must be more focused during each lesson on the specific concept or commitment that the investigator must know, feel or do because of your teaching. PMG p. 20
During the next few weeks, I will outline the necessary modifications to the Mission Tool Box so you can improve your ability to teach with more clarity and power and realize reduced leakage and more baptisms.