Hobby Lobby president Steve Green took to the podium in the FMA on Monday, Feb. 25, to speak to a crowd of more than 3,000 people, including 100 Hobby Lobby employees.
Dr. Bob Jones III introduced Green as not only an esteemed businessman, but also as a man not ashamed of his Savior. “His passion is the Gospel,” Jones said.
Green began his presentation with an overview of the history of Hobby Lobby. The company evolved out of a picture frame business that Green’s father, David Green, had started in his garage. In 1972, the Oklahoma-based craft store Hobby Lobby was founded.
According to Green, 1985 was a turning point for Hobby Lobby. Oklahoma was facing a bad economy, and the company did not make any profit that year. This was when Green’s father completely surrendered the company to God’s control. “He put [Hobby Lobby] into God’s hands and said, ‘If You want it to survive, then it’s up to You,’” Green said. The next year the company had the best year of profit in its history.
Green described this as a time he wouldn’t want to go through again, but at the same time, he wouldn’t want the experience to have never happened. “That’s what tough times in our life are all about,” he said, “They help us to learn more about the God we serve.”
It is the events of 1985 that laid the groundwork for Hobby Lobby’s statement of purpose, which says in part: “We believe that it is by God’s grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured. He has been faithful in the past, and we trust Him for our future.”
In 1996 the more public testimony of Hobby Lobby began to take shape. The company started running Christmas advertisements in newspapers to draw people’s attention back to the true meaning of Christmas: Christ’s birth. In the years following, Hobby Lobby stores began closing on Sundays and company chaplains were hired.
Hobby Lobby has also been involved in several other ministries. Among their ministry involvement is Every Tribe Entertainment, a film ministry, headed up by Steve Green’s brother, Mart Green. “There can be new technologies that, used appropriately for God, have some huge potential, and should be taken advantage of,” Green told the Collegian in an exclusive interview.
The Green family and Hobby Lobby are now combining modern innovations with ancient and historical biblical artifacts in Passages, a traveling exhibit of more than 400 biblical antiquities.
Passages has been on display in several cities, including Atlanta and Oklahoma City, Okla. Green told the Collegian the display has gotten good reviews everywhere it goes. “People who have gone [to see the display] have given us very high marks,” he said. According to Green, they receive a 5/5 rating from 90 percent of visitors who take the available exhibit experience surveys.
Passages is currently located in Charlotte, N.C., through March 30.
The Green family currently has a personal collection of 40,000 biblical artifacts and hopes to open a permanent Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. “If we want to see a change in our nation, it’s going to start with God’s word,” Green said during his address.
“This museum is going to be non-sectarian,” he said. It will focus on the history and the impact the Bible has had on the world. “It’s just a museum about a book. It’s not about religion. It’s not about denomination. It’s not about tradition. It’s about a book,” he said. Green said they also are working on a public school curriculum with the same philosophy.
At the end of his address, Green closed with the story of his grandmother’s example as someone who, while not wealthy, sacrificially served God. Green said God is not impressed with numbers.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re able to touch the world or if you live your life and nobody notices you,” Green said. “What’s important is [if] God [has] your heart. That’s what he is looking for.”