Hobby Lobby president speaks about intersection of faith and business at CBU’s School of Christian Ministries Lecture Series

Riverside, Calif. (April 2, 2024) – Over 180 California Baptist University students, faculty, staff and guests attended the latest School of Christian Ministries lecture on March 26 for a presentation by Steve Green, the president of Hobby Lobby.

“This is God’s business. We are only stewards of what God has entrusted to us,” said Green. “You can’t do it on your own, and we have to remind ourselves of that.”

This was a lesson that Green said his family was reminded of repeatedly as Hobby Lobby grew over the last 52 years. Hobby Lobby was established in 1972 by Green’s parents, David and Barbara Green, as a 600 square foot store front focused mostly on selling miniature picture frames. The elder Green managed the business alongside his full-time job, until he felt called by God to step out in faith and pursue Hobby Lobby full time.

After years of success, Green’s father held a family meeting in the spring of 1986 to discuss the future of the business. The previous year, Hobby Lobby had lost money for the first time in the company’s history, and they were unsure how they would pay the bills. The elder Green took that year to talk to God, crying out to Him and asking for direction.

“My dad was feeling confident that he could do this (Hobby Lobby). And God said ‘oh you can? Let’s see you do this on your own,’” said Green. “This experience made it very real that this was God’s business, and we cannot do it on our own. We are only stewards of what God has entrusted to us.”

Fast-forward to the mid-90s, and the ministry side of Hobby Lobby began to develop. It started with a desire for holiday ads to tell the true meaning of Christmas, rather than just reflect Happy Holidays or ignoring the season altogether. Hobby Lobby began taking out ads that spoke to the true meaning of the Christmas season and the response was overwhelmingly positive. That led Hobby Lobby to take the step to close their stores on Sundays. 

“Over the next two years, we developed a plan to close all of our stores – across the country – on Sundays,” said Green. “It was a challenging and scary time because of the revenue we may lose. But we truly felt God saying ‘I’m going to test you. Are you going to obey?’”

Since that time in the mid-90s, the company has continued to grow, including in their giving. Green recognized a need to increase the company’s tithe in alignment with the Hobby Lobby revenue. Then Hobby Lobby became connected with three specific ministries.

The first one is One Hope. One Hope distributes the Gospel (book) to students in over 100 countries around the world. Hobby Lobby funded the distribution of 100 million of these books over a five-year period. In that five-year period, Hobby Lobby’s giving was 6.5 times what it was in the previous three years. And several years later, the Green family decided to giveaway 50% of their profits each year.

A second ministry that Hobby Lobby became committed to is Every Home for Christ. Through this ministry, Hobby Lobby has funded the distribution of the Gospel to a billion homes in several countries.

The third ministry is the Museum of the Bible, in Washington, D.C., that opened in 2017. This Museum allows people to fully engage with the Bible.

“I want this company as big and as profitable as it’s going to be because half of its profits are going to mission efforts,” said Green.

As Green ended his presentation, he challenged the audience with this thought: “God is not impressed by our big numbers; He is interested in our hearts. Does God fully have your heart?”

Hobby Lobby’s mission is to honor the Lord in everything they do by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles. The company currently employs over 45,000 people and had $7 billion in sales in 2023.

Contact CBU Marketing and Communication

Vice President for Marketing and Communication:
Angela Meluski
Email: ameluski@calbaptist.edu

8432 Magnolia Avenue
Riverside, CA 92504