In 2004, Jonalyn and I sat in a small cafe in Washington, DC, scribbling on a napkin. Discontent with our current ministry work, we dreamed up a way to combine our voices under a new non-profit.
Our vision was to give Christians a sturdier foundation to build their soul. Christians seemed honestly adrift or blustering through faith. Rampant Christianese was proof of the problem. We hoped to give Christians the tools to not just talk about their faith or have defenses for it, but to build their souls strong enough to follow Jesus into beautiful ways of living. We wanted to make room for Christians who wanted to be whole, more fully themselves, more fully human. What word could capture that?
Trying to combine the importance of the soul as the foundation for life, we wrote down, “Souldation” on the napkin. Unsure this was the right word, but just in case, we secured the domain name in our hotel room that evening.
The next day, I noticed I secured a missspelling of “Souldation.org” to “Soulation.org”. We ran with the pleasing mistake and launched Soulation a year later. Our tagline was “Sturdy answers. Better Souls.”
As we grew, we traveled by invitation across North America, from churches to universities, to South America and even to Europe. Our website presence became our primary vehicle with visitors engaging us as far as away as Korea, Germany, Australia, and China. Zondervan signed us for three books (Ruby Slippers ‘07, Living with Questions ‘07, Coffee Shop Conversations ‘10) along with contributions to numerous other books, and we independently launched the Soulation Press with a Christmas reader (Opening the Stable Door, ‘13) followed by other titles. We developed a writing team to post regularly on the now retired blogs, BreakfastReading and SturdyAnswers, and field questions at MyFaithHurdle. We started conversations on social media for people to ask hard questions about the topics most people avoid.
Looking back, I am surprised how much we did even as our children came along. Our oldest son flew with us on 36 airplanes before he turned one.
I’m equally amazed at what we’ve accomplished with our precious, but small group of, donors who have backed our voices and this soul-building vision.
We have evolved over time. As new donors have come aboard, as expectations and needs in the Christian market have shifted, as we’ve honed our gifts to best address those needs, we are traveling less, but producing more. Responsibility with this message and new opportunities have led us to develop wiser means of sustainability and focus.
We’ve created a community for those most engaged with Soulation. This group has become known as the Freedom Builders Community who work to find the truth that will set them free. Freedom Builders know we are available to assist in their healing and we work to shape them into leaders. We spend our daily energy with these folks, pastoring and mentoring, while reaching out to any who want spiritual mentoring (eMentoring) or to ask anonymous questions (MyFaithHurdle). Below you can see one of our Fall Retreats gathered for a photo before our hike in White Woods.
Soulation continues to offer free resources, speak by-invitation at strategic events, engage on social media, publish books, host retreats, and provide classes online. For those who want to go deeper to build their souls, the Freedom Builders Community is their home.
Our mission, vision and message is unchanged: helping Christians to become fully human. We are leading Christians into the good life of Jesus, making better spouses, parents, and citizens, courageous leaders, equipping a generation to integrate careful theological thinking with empathy, advocating for gender equality, and mentoring into spiritual wholeness. We cling to our Soulation values of beauty, Biblical faithfulness, freedom, honesty, and thoughtful engagement to bring spiritual health and belonging.
Over a decade after we began, Soulation is more influential than ever, changing the Christian culture by building freedom in individual souls.
If you want to build freedom and be part of Christians holding on to and loving their faith, join us.
Yours for the future,