Welcome back to the Monday morning church podcast. On the show today, we’ve got Chris Gunnare from Lutheran Church of Hope, which has six locations in central Iowa. Great to have you on today, Chris. Tell us a little bit about your position there at Lutheran Church of Hope and how you came into it.

My background was hotels and restaurants and ever since graduating from Arizona State University, that’s kind of what I did and where I lived, and I loved doing it; loved the hospitality business, didn’t see myself ever leaving that industry. In 2000, we moved to Iowa and at that time I kinda became a volunteer here at Hope. We don’t do this anymore I’d like to tell people, but my second week at Hope, I was a Sunday School teacher. That happened because we were growing the church very quickly back then. We were about 1500 people, which was about the size of my hometown back in South Dakota growing up. So way big church from what we were used to.

We went to check our kids into Sunday school and the class was full, and the people are nice and said, you know, sorry, the class was full so come back next week and we’ll try to get your kids in. So we’re like, well, that’s odd, I’ve never been turned away from Sunday school. So we went to church, loved the church. And to be honest, the next week we were kinda church shopping. We went to get up in the morning to go try the next church on the list, and the kids said, “Can we go back to that same church?” We’re like, which one? This is a third grader asking to go back to church. We’re like, “The one from last week?” they’re like, “Yeah.” We’re like “You didn’t go to Sunday School. You worshiped with us.” ,“Yeah, but it was really good.” I looked my wife like, do we go to the new one? She goes, “Are you kidding me?” So we went back to Hope, and again, it was full. We’re like, this is odd. So Monday morning, I called the church to say my experience and the senior pastor, who never works Monday, but for some reason, God had him answer the phone this Monday, and told Mike the class was full. He goes, “Let me get back to you.” 15 minutes later he calls. Speaking of being a great salesman, Mike’s like, “Hey Chris, I got some really great news. The church has been growing lately and because of that we like to keep classes small for good quality education, and I think I found a way for not only your kid to get into Sunday School, but 15 others.” I’m like, cool. How’s that? “What if you and Denise become Sunday School teachers?” I’m like, uh great. So I had to call my wife like, “Good news, the kids are in Sunday School!” She was like, “What’d you do?” I’m like, “Well we’re now Sunday School teachers.” She was like, “We haven’t even picked the church yet!” I’m like, “Well I think we just picked Hope.”. That was our Hope story. We now get background checks by the way, we would not do that ever, ever again.

That was 2000 we got involved in the church, started coaching. We had a giving campaign. My wife and I led Alpha, my kids became junior high, we led confirmation. Being hospitality I was on three different usher teams; I usher once a month. So once wasn’t enough for me, so I was doing it three times a month. All hat got me on the church council in 2003, and we really, by this time, had grown to over 3,500 a week. The staff was huge and we were just burning out our senior pastor. Our worship center held 700, the chapel about 300, worshiping 3,600 a week. He was preaching 8 sermons a weekend and he just can’t sustain; they were all 40 minute messages. That was a lot. So we, as a council were pushing Mike to find a new executive pastor or an executive pastor, a new position for us at this time. Really back in 2004, there weren’t a lot of them out there. So we started looking at that.

Mike called me up around January of 2005 saying, “Chris, I found my new executive pastor.”, and I’m like, praise God, I can’t wait. He said, “I’m gonna announce it at the council meeting this month.” I said, “Great.” He goes, “I think you should know who it is.” I said, “I love to know.” And he said, it was me. I laughed and he didn’t. You notice I started in July, which meant it took me about three or four months of saying, I don’t think that’s what I’m called to do. By this time I own hotels, restaurants; by the world view we’re very successful and having a great time. But something spoke to me about 90 days in as Mike just kept saying, “Pray about it.” And I said, “You know, let’s do it.: So I give them two to three years back in 2005.

 

You’re still there.

The last 13 years has been a whirlwind, but it’s been amazing. So that’s how I got here, which was fun in itself. But I think your second part of the question was what I do, how we operate. Hope definitely cause themselves a multi-site church. You mentioned we have six campuses, but we definitely function more of a hub-and-spoke. Part of that is we just waited a long time to do multi-site.

By the time we launched our first campus in 2006, West Des Moines was already worshiping about 8,000 people. When you launch that first campus with 130 people, you can say, we’re gonna be equal campuses, but when one has a staff of one person, and one has a staff of 60. It’s not really the same.

In 2008 we started that second campus. In 2011 we took a little bit of time to get that third campus cause we figured out we were outnumbered. It’s kind of like having kids; when there’s one parent and three campuses. Launched Waukee in ’14, and Ames ’16, this year. Definitely been fun to watch.

Today Ankeny’s got a brand new building. They’ve been in since about 2015. They all started in schools; Des Moines is in a building that we remodeled and they opened back in ’14. Waukee is actually in a building that we purchased in 2015, so four of our campuses are now in physical buildings. Johnston-Grimes, we just broke ground, so we got that construction project going on currently. They should be in in July of ’18. Ames, like I said, just started than 2016 is what we call a local site with about 40 people, and after about a year they grew about a hundred, which then we made them an official campus in 2017. Now they’re worshiping 250 to 300 already. So that’s kind of exciting.

We also do a pretty good online presence. We write now at 11:00 on Sundays, have about 2,300 computers watching each and every Sunday at 11:00. Plus about 10,000 additionals who watched prior messages all week long. Definitely the online campus we see a ton of growth.

Structure wise I oversee the budget for campuses and all auxiliary ministries that we have. I’ve led our 14 capital campaigns between our campuses, led four building projects completed, they’ve all been completed on time, under budget, working on the fifth one today. Hopefully I didn’t jinx that fifth one. Human resources; we got a staff of over 350, about 105 full-time, 85 part-time, which if you look at the math about 160 we call “pull a temp staff”, people like in the nursery who work one to three hours a month. That’s where a lot of that 350 staff comes in. I also oversee the two daycares, our two pre schools, we have two Cafe Hopes, which are like bookstores and coffee shops. I lead our shared staff services here at West. Here at Hope we do a shared staff, all the campuses pay in the shared staff their percentage of general fund giving. This year’s budget, for example, West Des Moines’ 85 percent of that all total giving, because we keep it seperate, which means they pay 80 percent of the admin shared, IT shared staff, communications, finance, our maintenance, not janitorial, but the big maintenance people so all these campuses don’t have to hire a maintenance person who can really fix and repair stuff, they more just hire a janitor and our shared maintenance people run around and pick ups fixing all the big stuff. IT is also in that shared services. In West Des Moines I oversee the production team, admin team, finance and HR, facility, creative arts ministry, nursery, so about 23 direct reports. Enough to keep me out of trouble.

 

Yeah, well, it sounds like you must have a lot of trouble to get out of because you sound pretty busy.

It is fun. I have great leaders, every one of those direct reports are people who really run the ministries. They do their jobs, so I really get involved when it’s something new, something major, or something maybe is a little bit off kilter or we wanna tweak it. So the good news is, I don’t really get involved in a lot of day to day. I really get to focus on big picture. What could we do better? I drop into all my ministries for at least a week out of the year just to really look and say, how is it going from an outsider point of view? What can we do different, what can we do better? So by keeping myself out of the day to day, it allows me to look at big picture. When I first started, I got caught up trying to run every ministry myself, and I tell you what, when your in the weeds it’s hard to see the forest. It’s nice to definitely step back and hire great people to lead, and that allows me to focus on it areas to improve.

 

Okay, so I have one question from all that, and I’m thinking about your transition going from the hotel services industry and into the church, which obviously there would be overlap in the services industry, but you also come into a scenario where you are coming into a newly created position, the executive pastor position, and then you quickly move into launching all these different sites. Are you someone who enjoys the fast pace and new learning opportunities, or was there a bit of whiplash and all of that jumping in a such a big role so quickly?

You know I think because I got to create my own role, my create my own position, it didn’t feel like the whiplash. You sit back and look at it today, and even as I was in prayer this morning and typing up a few notes, knowing what we’re talking about today, it seemed overwhelming to look at it and like anybody else, if you start a position and then give it to somebody 15 years later, it looks like a lot. But when you really add this stuff one thing at a time, it didn’t seem so overwhelming. I’m tired almost talking about it now, but it really was a great opportunity. I love to move quick, I get bored in t he same thing every day. My degree from Arizona State is accounting, but I knew what I didn’t want, and that’s a desk job, just crunching numbers all day long. I love to do it, and that’s why I do building, human resources, finance and HR, but I also love the challenge of doing something different. So the cool thing about creating my own position is by hiring great people that run the ministries and be doing it daily, I really get the opportunity to spend a good portion of my time talking to members of the congregation, talking to staff, on-boarding new staff, teaching new member classes, really jumping around. Probably the most stressful thing was our fiscal… September first, I’ll never forget I started July first, and Mike literally was leaving. He’s like a lot of senior pastors, especially around central Iowa, they take that summer break in July. We had VBS in June back then, so he would get through two weeks of VBS, take basically all July off, and then come back and get ready for Rally Weekend in September. I’ll never forget my first day, He’s like, “Chris, I’m going on vacation, I’ll be back in August. You know, count some meetings in July. We gotta have a budget done.” So I know I’ll never forget, I sat down and opened up my accounting software. There was no budget. I’m like, we gotta have the budget, so I add it, look it over. Literally I created a budget. I’m like, okay, I’ve been an accountant for couple years, I know what it looks like, but I never knew what went into it. So that was kind of school of hard knock. That was my background, so I was able to get through it, but that was kind of my, I guess, getting thrown into the deep end of the pool without any life jacket.

 

A solid initiation.

Exactly. But it definitely…I am wired to just continue to go. My day started five or six in the morning, go to five or six at night, five days a week and I like to say I’ve volunteer on weekends cause I love hospitality. If I was working at a different company and I was willing to serve three, four weekends a year doing hospitality, I’d do the same thing here. That’s what I’d love to do, and that’s how I’m wired up. I get beat up a little bit by my senior pastor for not… You know, what is my sabbath. We’ve gone back and forth of what that looks like, but I’ve really considered that just because I get paid for the church to do my Monday through Friday job doesn’t mean I can’t volunteer here on weekends. If I sas an hourly employee now it’s little bit of a gray area, but I’m on salary so it’s all good.

 

So tell me, what’s one thing you guys have got going on there at Hope, that some best practice or some solution that you’ve really seen success with?

I think one of them is the way we started campuses with little to no risk. I get to hang out with a lot of great church people that have done it well. launch big. We really have launched our campuses with little to no risk. We fund the initial investment they need, all of my multi-sites started out with the intent of being a video campus. The first two we hired a preacher to run a video campus, and just even saying that sounds silly because guess what? Preachers like to preach and very quickly they’re preaching live. Either the CD didn’t work, cause back then it was CD’s back in ’06; today, it’s all live stream. Today it’d be the internet wire got unplugged somehow, I don’t know how that happened, so I happened to sermon ready so I preached it Chris. So we’ve learned, we’ve now hired really great shepherds to lead multi-sites, and there’s a lot of great stuff a campus pastor can do and knowing you have a pretty good message coming from my West Des Moines campus it frees up the campus pastors to really focus on the mid week teaching. They can jump gonna teach a bible class, but they can also just be around on weekends of be all in to support the growth of the church. And that’s been a good model, but just by having each campus be separate, having the giving be separate, and then I sit with each campus and build a budget for them, and they get 50 percent of what comes in, and we’ve lost enough we can pretty much tell you within probably three, four percent what givings going to be the first year and the second year.

I’ve had a campus leader start with a volunteer worship leader, I’ve had some start with volunteer production, some do volunteer children’s ministry, it’s based on them. So we’ve done six campuses of five we’ve launched and all have been different. They’ve all done a different model of what they’re gonna do and the cool thing is they’ve all been successful in their own unique ways. They’ve all had challenges in their own unique ways. I think that’s been exciting because this is not much risk. We rent the school, it’s week-to-week, that’s low cost, usually it’s just one staff person, just a campus pastor right away, and then we grow as the campus grows.

Local sites is probably the next most exciting thing. That’s truly basically a house church. It’s really good for people; they have no staff, but we officially, we let them use the Hope name. They organize the first one was in Ames, now a campus, the second ones in Forest City, they rent the YMCA for $50 a week and they’re pulling 60 to 75 people. They watch the complete service online and they do mid week bible studies and small groups, and they do everything their own and we support them and get them what they’re looking for. We’ve now got somebody overseeing them, we jokingly call them the bishop cause we’re Lutheran and we have bishops here. So we call him Hope’s bishop because he’s running around, and we’ve probably had 30 or 40 requests for local sites. But kind of like with campuses we’ve started with two intentionally, just because you wanna make sure you understand the pitfalls and where’s it’s gonna happen. We have a saying around Hope, it’s better to clean up after a party than never have one. So we didn’t mind just jumping in the local site with the idea, we thought it was good, let’s try it, but we’re smart enough to say say Let’s try it with two in case we gotta tweak it before we do 50 or 60.

We’re right now talking to four different cities, I can tell you two of them already have one. We haven’t officially called them local sites just because we do have bishops and maybe they’re not ready for us to call them a local site, and we’re not ready to call them a local site yet, but we can’t stop somebody from watching the tv and the living room with 45 people. Which we know is happening in two cities right now. We’re quickly working through some of the “dotting i’s, crossing t’s.” If I send it about… What does it look like to do this, especially when we leave. I said it… once we go to Kansas City for example, if we go to Chicago, for example, what does that look like?

A lot of it is really, is it needed? It’s a big conversation. We’re on the same team with a lot of great churches, so before we walk into a city… Chicago, there’s a lot of great churches in Chicago, Willow Creek is one of them, someone would need to make a really good case why they need a local site in Chicago cause what we really want is to push them to the local churches. Therefore, the local sites, we’re talking about a much more smaller cities that maybe most of the church options are very traditional, so therefore that’s not a fit for the style of worship that Hope does. That’s the ones we’ve granted a local site to, if that makes sense.

 

Yeah, no, that’s really interesting. I’ve obviously heard of multi-site and church plants and all of that, but this local site is a new concept for me. I’ve not heard this.

Yeah. I can tell you a church-wide, you might have heard the term microsite. It’d be similar to that. I think some of the folks use that as well, but it’s a really neat site. I think it’s the answer to getting into small cities. You know we’re in Iowa outside of Des Moines Metro, which iis maybe half a million people, which for a lot of your listeners, a pretty small city. We have a lot of cities, 1000, 3000, 5000, 10000, you  know 15000 is a good size city here in Iowa, and a lot of the midwest, to be honest. And what is the solution there? How do you recreate something like a worship experience in West Des Moines where we have great opportunity from musicians and singers, but how do you make that work in a small town where you can have a huge impact? In the two cities where we’ve done it, it’s been transformational to the city. I mean in a town of 1,500 people that have 65 people coming to watch a full service on a screen at the YMCA is mind boggling. One of the next biggest churches in that community may be 120 and it’s been around 100 years. You almost… that a whole church is young families, and that’s the exciting point, we’re just not about to give up on a generation of people. Get every generation to worship.

 

I think that’s really interesting, not just the concept of these local sites these microsites, but also the fact that most of the time when you’re talking to churches, they’ve got their eye on a city. I think it’s really interesting that you still have that heart developed for the smaller towns and a lot of small but under served areas.

Yep, you are exactly right. We know from, our other churches, it’s hard for them to find pastors if you’re a town of 3,000 people; there’s a passer shortage anyway. Well now you need to find a pastor who wants to live in the middle of Iowa in a town of 3000, that might have to do three parishes or two parishes to even make a job. That’s a really tough to find a job. So we’re trying to think outside the box; how can we continue to bring them Jesus in a way that is God honoring but also helps grow the Kingdom.

 

Yeah, and that’s really interesting. I wanna flip it though, and I wanna hear about some kind of current administrative challenge that you haven’t yet found a solution for.

Yeah, I’d say just as much as they were successful, probably the multi sites, more of the campuses, and by that we do something here called campus choice. Campus choice, what we use for, now I’m talking about our six campuses that have staff, their big size churches, Ankeny worships 1,800 a weekend, Des Moines’ worshiping about 500 a weekend, Johnson-Grimes 600, Waukee 900, and Ames is already at 350. These are good size churches with staffs and why structure is very much set up. Each campus pastor must agree to our vision, and mission of values of the church, which is pretty generic you know; make heaven crowded reach out to all around us and share God’s love. That’s a pretty generic mission, you can do a lot of stuff and say, yes, it accomplishes the mission. Everything else a campus does is really based on campus choice. And part of that reason is Pastor Mike really believes, our senior pastor Mike Housholder, that it is our campus pastor is the best person suited to tell us what needs to happen in that community. Even though we’re talking a lot of our camps of suburbs, the feeling in Ankeny is different than Des Moines, Johnson-Grimes, West Des Moines, and Waukee. Even though all these communities are within a 20, 30 minute drive of each other, maybe the furthest is maybe 45 to an hour for the longest one apart. Each of these communities have a different field; they have different high schools, they have different communities and they have different vibes. As a result, we really want our campus pastor to have a lot of say what they’re gonna do.

As you know, from a hub and spoke structure, our West Des Moines staff has a great, we’ll call it a junior high program, a senior high programm, maybe we pick times for the Ash Wednesday service coming up, Lutherans do an Ash Wednesday service, I know not all denominations do, and as little as we picked to do it at five and seven. Well, ironically this year, it’s just a real example, out of all of my other campuses, everyone did a different time. So our communication teams going, how do I make a powerpoint? We have services starting at 4:00 here, 4:30 her, 5:00 there, 5:15 here, 6:00, 6:45. It’s like we want a campus choice, I’m sure every campus pastor had a good reason for those service times. But at some point, it’d just be nice to say, okay, come on. If we just said services are at 5:00, 6:00 or 7:00 see your campus for details it’d make life lot easier, but again our senior pastor was really forced us as a support staff to say, “We don’t do what’s best for us, we do what’s best to grow the Kingdom.” If the campus pastor feels they have a good reason to make their service time what it is, we have to give them some freedom on that. While that works good on paper, as you can imagine on the operational side, it gets a little bit challenging. So that’s multisite and challenging; the who gets to decide. There’s two sides of that, we can be over legalistic and say, “You must do it this way.”, we structure everything, and I’ve talked to churches who do that well, and there’s other sides that basically say,”Your campus, do whatever you want.” Basically, you’re gonna be a plant some day, and I think that’s great.

I think we live in a world of grey. I think where Hope is intentionally is at in that middle; where we wanna co-exist, we wanna be together. All of our campus pastors want to be a campus, not a plant. They don’t wanna deal with the new corporation, new structure, new (unintelligible 22:16) new boards. Our campus pastors say, “I get all the fun of a senior pastor without the challenge.” When the sexual identity question comes up, that’s a senior pastor question, when a money question comes up, that’s a senior pastor question. When council meetings come up, that’s a senior pastor issue. They, really get to have a lot of fun doing church and really, we get to be very streamlined and focused. That is probably one of my challenges, and I’m not alone there. I’ve talked a lot of churches doing multi-site, and we love the way it’s growing the kingdom, and we love the way it’s allowing more people to worship, but it just becomes a little bit of a challenge there of what that looks like and feels like. So that’s probably one of them.

The next one is probably employee benefits we’re a very young staff, but I can tell you we’ve had a couple of bad years with more than 50 people on our plan. We have 100 people on our health insurance plan. We basically… We buy insurance, but they rate us based on our claims for its… and it’s a factual matter we’ve had four or five really bad years of claims in a row and our insurance renewal is huge, and I know that if you read worldwide, or in the U.S. especially, the insurance system is a broken system, and it’s definitely affecting our church budget. I increase alone in health insurance issues $300,000, that’s quite an increases. That’s a lot of ministry. I mean, holy cow, that’s a ton of ministry we could be doing without that increase. So we’re doing all we can on that, but I think that is definitely administrative challenge that i have not found the solution for for sure. We’ll keep working and praying and continue trying to be healthy and keep claims down, but there are some things that are out of your control.

 

Yeah, absolutely. So Chris, where do you go to learn more about being better at your role and staying on top of your game?

You know, as Hope was continuing to grow from 1,200 a weekends, ’cause we’ve grown, I still keep a great network of the local executive pastors, who while we’re bigger than them, do share a lot of the same issues, so I have a great group of pastors. We only meet… We used to meet a couple of times a year, but now that we’ve done that for a while we haven’t met in probably a year, but I can tell you, we all email each other. If any one of us was having an issue we’d send an email to one of the people in that group or all the people in that group. We try to meet yearly, we just get together to say one of the top things you’re being challenged with. We throw them out there and then we just spend the rest of the three hour meeting together talking about the issues. It is kinda nice to know that you’re not alone in that issue, and we share all that. So I definitely have a group of local  exec pastors that I rely on. But I also have a national group. We’ve been blessed with hosting the Willow Creek Leadership Summit, we know a lot of folks who are host sites for the leadership summit. I was invited out to, I called a hospitality group, some folks at North Point, CCB,  and Elevation brought it about 15, 20 churches several years ago, of the kind people who love hospitality. Well, you know my background, so fortunately I made the list and that’s been a great group to share other stuff with. Most people in that group are hospitality specific, but I was unique in that group; I was the exec pastor who also did hospitality.

With those relationships, I’ve met some great leaders at those churches and done well there, for anybody new to this job or not. Did the XPastor Conference, it’s in Dallas, TX every year, usually in February. Dave Fletcher does a great job; he caps at about 200 people. What I loved about that conference isn’t so much what I learned at the talks, and I used to speak at them as well, so I’m speaking for all of us, but the relationships. When you’re gonna be two and a half days with only 200 exec pastors, and he’s kind of intentionally a third of small, a third of medium, a third of large, you really get a chance to meet some people. A lot of my great friendships that I email on a regular basis as needed, could be once a month, could be once a quarter based on what’s going on in the world. That’s a good group. And also through, we use ACS for computer software system, a few of the times at those conferences I’ve met some other churches and there they’re using the same program we are as well as that. But lot of it’s not so much conference related, I’ve more used the conferences to build relationships, so it’s personal relationships to people doing similar jobs. Highly recommend to get that network of people.

 

Yeah. Chris, what encouragement would you give to others in church leadership? Obviously, as you mentioned, relationships is a big one.

Yeah, definitely a big one. I think my biggest focus is a lot of exec pastors. I get to spend some time with, they were like me the first couple years; they would do everything themselves, and they were so caught up that sometimes I go meet with them, go pray with them for an hour, they’re telling me about situations. You could just tell they’re so deep in the trenches they just can’t even see the line of the light. So I can tell people do as much as you can to stay focused in the big picture. Don’t get caught up in the details. Easier said than done when you’re there. I get there, every building project I get there, every budget season I get there, every time I got a major issue in one of my ministries I get there, but I really try to give myself that advice. Just look at the big picture, don’t get caught up in the fire right now, but how do we get through that. A way to get there, my second advice would kind of be, find good people and give them room to lead and get out of their way. They’re gonna make mistakes, it might not be as good as you can do it, it might take longer than it would for you, but if you really wanna get past you doing everything you gotta hire the people that can make decisions and you gotta let them lead.

Met a lot of good people in our own staff that were just being micromanaged and as we gave them room to go be leaders, teah, they made some mistakes, but that’s okay. We all make mistakes. In the 20 some years history of this church Pastor Mike loves to tell stories of all the crazy mistakes we made, but we learn by them. So we’ve gotta give our young leaders the opportunity to definitely go do ministering. Finally, my last one is probably for all churches, especially, but do something, don’t just talk about it. Too many times, especially those of my friends in the LCA where we’ll talk about all the problems out there, but we wanna kill things in committee, go send it to committee. I just think the best example we have a Super Bowl, probably 15 years ago, Pastor Mike called me the saturday of Super Bowl weekend, back when it was still played in January, the newspaper just came out, food pantry shelves are empty. Thanksgiving everybody thought of the food pantry, Christmas, they all got toys, but by January, the shelves are empty and it’s cold, and people are hungry. And Mike just called and said, “ Chris, we gotta do something about this.” Front page news of the paper is relevant to society and he instantly said, “Chris, we do a food drive this weekend?” I’m like, “Yeah, let’s do it.” And he just basically announced at the services that weekend, “We’re doing a food drive, and I want you to not bring the cheap stuff. I want you to bring in the good stuff. I don’t want you to clean out your pantry and bring the stuff that’s expired. I want to go to the grocery store and buy stuff, especially the Saturday night and Sunday morning people as you get ready for that Super Bowl game, go buy your stuff and buy stuff to bring.” And literally he filled this church full of food. Every year we’ve done that was …Now we fill food pantries in a 60 mile radius with 35 pantries. Last year two grocery stores called us and said, “Can we put a semi in our lot all week advertising your Super Bowl and people they just bring food there [unintelligible 29:33] … we have the Sam’s Club saying, “When you do this, make sure we know, because our food”, we get out of food at a Sam’s Club. This year, five stores are putting a semi-trailer in their parking lot. These are secular stores saying, “We wanna partner with you.” I think that is an example. 90 tons of food was donated the last year over Super Bowl weekend, and that was just Hope and a couple stores, and it can make an impact. [Unintelligible 29:58] another example back in 2007, through Lent, we did a project where we packaged  one million meals; we did packaging right here at the church, we did packaging all Lent and we did a million. Had a group of people who wanted to start and keep doing this. we’re like, “Great, go do it, but it can’t have Hope’s name on it.” Hope started about five or six different organizations and Meals From the Heartland is one of them, and the reason we don’t put our name on it is other churches aren’t gonna want to partner if Hope is leading it. But I like to say if Home Depot started a packaging drive, there’s a good chance the local hardware stores aren’t gonna want to partner with that, but if we start a new organization that doesn’t have Hope’s name on it, like Meals From the Heartland what God can do from 2007 to today is package over 22 million meals last year alone, over 100 million meals have been fed, and over a 120 churches called that program theirs. And I think that’s part of just go do it, but give God the glory, we didn’t need to have our name on that, or any of the organizations that are out there today. But the reason we do it is the young generation wants to make a difference; they wanna serve. More people come to Hope saying, “My coworker said I could package meals, I can go help homeless kids, I can go read to the kids at the schools,” they wanna do something. So, do something and people will get excited; people wanna make a difference. It’s not easy, and sometimes you’re gonna take a liability or take a risk, but again, one of our sayings around Hope is we’d much rather clean up after a party than never have one. We’re gonna do it all out.

 

I love that the “rather clean up after party than not have one.” Chris, thanks so much for being on the podcast today.

Thank you, God bless, have a great day.