What is a Chief Spiritual Officer and why your BAM project needs one

For a project to be rated as an authentic Business As Mission (BAM) project, it needs to deliver on the Spiritual Bottom Line.

For the purpose of this article, we define delivering this Spiritual Bottom Line by stating that the most valuable thing we can offer the world is a relationship with Jesus.  Therefore, delivering on the Spiritual Bottom Line is delivering on evangelism for those who do not yet know Christ, and discipleship for those who do. (For clear examples of what this looks like, check out our ‘Rate Your BAM Project’ article.)

As we talk with leaders of a huge variety of BAM projects, be they water purification franchises in Africa, or owners of large apartment complexes in the US, we continue to encounter the same question:  How can we ensure delivery of the Spiritual Bottom Line?

Authentic BAM projects are almost always started to deliver the Spiritual Bottom Line, but it can be challenging for leaders to know how to organise the operation in a way that consistently delivers the results they are after.

Perhaps this is caused by the dreaded sacred-secular divide rearing its ugly head again.  The mystery of how the Father draws people to Jesus (John 6:44) can make planning ‘to bring people to Christ’ feel a bit presumptuous.  In our experience, this is hard for well trained clergy in full time ministry, so how much harder might it be for non-theologically trained business leaders?

But there is hope!  What if the behaviours that lead to delivering the Spiritual Bottom Line could be re-framed to look much more like a business orientated bottom line, like those employed to deliver profit?  What if we could organise the principles in Scripture that describe how people come to know Jesus into a methodology that could be contextualised for your BAM project?

By introducing a few key concepts and breaking down the biblical process of how people come to know Jesus into attainable steps, we believe that achieving breakthrough in the Spiritual Bottom Line is realistic for most if not all BAM projects.

What Does This Look Like?

The goal for any BAM project is not to necessarily try to hit certain outreach targets, but rather to strive to maximise its missional potential.  

But how do you do that? That’s where you want to apply the biblical principles of gospel movement listed in the article A Case Study – Applying Outreach In Business: The Four Missional Milestones.

Using the principles of Connect/Share/Gather/Train, BAM leadership can discern what maximising the missional potential of the project is.  

For example with Connect, one can evaluate all the places the business touches people who might be ‘far from God.’  That would include employees and customers, but it would also include suppliers, and even the competition.  Furthermore, it could also include the family and friends of any of those groups, or the people who live or work in the neighbourhoods around the project.  From there you could list the total number of people available to be reached by the BAM project

Once this has been calculated, leadership might want to set targets, metrics such as Key Performance Indicators, and bring in training to allow the CONNECT to happen as effectively as possible. The overarching measurements might be: 1) Out of all the available people we can Connect with, what percentage are we Connecting with? 2) Is this leading to the next ‘milestone’ of SHARE?

These are all measurable targets that can be planned and trained for, measured, and problem solved when an issue in progress is identified.  Once measurements are taken, leadership can then evaluate where they are being effective, and where they might need more help.

For example, perhaps they are doing CONNECT and SHARE well, but continue to struggle getting to GATHER.  This is valuable information where leadership might choose to bring in outside help to learn how they could implement the next step well so they are maximising their missional potential to Gather.

Chief Spiritual Officer

By implementing the CONNECT, SHARE, GATHER, TRAIN framework into the BAM project, BAM leadership can develop a systematic approach to delivering the Spiritual Bottom Line.  However, even as the small example above illustrates, leading your BAM project to fulfil its missional potential can become as complex as it is vital.

We are advocating for BAM projects to consider creating a role of Chief Spiritual Office (CSO) in their leadership team.  If the operation is large enough, this might be a new role appointed to a qualified candidate, or it could be an additional role that is added on to the existing CEO or the COO. 

What is important to note is that the CSO is NOT a company chaplain. The role needs to be reinforced with C-suite level authority to influence and change processes so that the goals that lead to the Spiritual Bottom Line are achieved.

As a frame of reference, let’s look at the role of a Chief Financial Officer who is tasked with helping the leadership develop its Financial Bottom Line.  A quick internet search for a definition of the CFO role reveals this from Investopedia:

What Is a Chief Financial Officer? :A chief financial officer (CFO) is the senior executive responsible for managing the financial actions of a company. The CFO’s duties include tracking cash flow and financial planning as well as analyzing the company’s financial strengths and weaknesses and proposing corrective actions.”

This is a good analogy for what a CSO should do for the Spiritual Bottom Line.  You could re-write this to be:

What is a Chief Spiritual Officer?: A chief spiritual officer (CSO) is the senior executive responsible for managing the spiritual actions of a BAM company. The CSO’s duties include tracking outreach flow and spiritual planning as well as analysing the company’s outreach/discipleship strengths and weaknesses and proposing corrective actions.”

It IS possible

Delivering on the Spiritual Bottom Line IS possible.  By adopting a framework like The Four Missional Milestones (Connect/Share/Gather/Train), BAM projects can identify how to create a plan to be spiritually fruitful. 

This is best achieved by investing in a senior leadership role that can perform the necessary tasks of evaluation, target setting, measurement, and adjustment.  We believe that a Chief Spiritual Officer, correctly trained and fully empowered, might be a solution for BAM projects struggling to more clearly deliver on their Spiritual Bottom Line.


Founder of Creative Reach Ministries and BusinessAndMission.org; Former CEO of a British missions agency for the better part of 10 years; Former Executive Director of a global 'Business As Mission' division which established businesses in North America, Africa, Asia, and expanded businesses in Europe.