Welcome to podcast episode number eight of the Mobile Alabama Business Podcast with Bart Hare. My name is Marcus Neto, I own Blue Fish, a digital marketing and web design company based in Downtown Mobile. I'm the host of Mobile Alabama Business Podcast, where we talk to local entrepreneurs and business owners about their businesses and how they got started. I'd like to thank you for spending time with us today.
A special note before we get into today's guest - if you'd like to be on our show, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're always looking for local business owners to interview for the podcast.
In today show, I sit down with Bart Hare. Bart and I have known each other for quite some time. He's the Executive Pastor for CityHope Church. CityHope was formerly Bay Community Church. CityHope now has campuses in Malbis, Mobile, Foley and Bay Minette, Alabama and in Honduras, and they aren't stopping there. I'm excited about this interview because I go to CityHope, and I've seen the impact they have on people's lives. There something very powerful about how they care for people. This was a chance to talk to Bart about the business side of Church and how he helps guide them through that. So let’s dive right in with Bart Hare.
Marcus: I’d like to welcome to the podcast Bart. Thank you for coming today.
Bart: Marcus, it's great to be here. I appreciate it.
Marcus: I've been looking forward to this interview for a long time. You and I are friends and I've watched you transition into your role as Executive Pastor at what was Bay Community Church, and is now CityHope. And I've watched what that Church has done in the last year or two with your assistance, and I have to say I'm blown away. Before we get too far down that rabbit hole, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you ended up here?
Bart: I'm an Eastern Shore native, I grew up in Fairhope and graduated from Fairhope High School. Won't tell you how many years ago, unless you just really want to know, but that would date me, but yeah I grew up here and really moved all over the southeast in my adult life through business and different ministry opportunities. In 2006 we were able to move back here to the Spanish Fort/Daphne are. We began attending Bay Community Church. That time, I was a general manager for a Global Fortune 500 office equipment company. I had the good fortune to be promoted and come back to this area, and we found Bay Community Church then.
Marcus: Yeah so cool. I've knew you when you were working as the general manager there in a sales capacity, right?
Marcus: Okay. And so how difficult was it moving? Because I know you've always had kind of this back and forth with ministry. How difficult was it, leaving that behind and just moving straight into ministry?
Bart: You know, not difficult. If you know when it is when you know something’s right, it makes that step of faith, if you will, just easier.
Marcus: The transition. Yeah.
Bart: Yeah and that transition have been happening in me for a couple of years. So it wasn't a quick decision, it was one that really I was able to make over a period of about 18 months, and so it worked out really well.
Marcus: Very cool. I know you did not start Bay Community that was Jerry Taylor. But when did it begin as an organization? Give us a little bit of history about the church.
Bart: Well the church started in 1998 and Jerry Taylor is the founding Pastor, he's still our lead Senior Pastor. And you know it started as Pastor had a vision in his heart that God gave him to reach out to the people that really no one else was reaching out to. He started the church with doing sidewalk Sunday Schools for kids and reaching out to people who really weren't connecting to church in any other way. And really it's grown in to now, it’s not just those people who were connecting to City Hope Church, but it's people of all levels of socioeconomic backgrounds, all levels of church background, some with a lot of church background, some with no church background. And it’s been a real interesting transformation that we've watched.
Marcus: I know that this may not be intentional, but I know that many of the people that I know that come here that were involved in ministry before, see this is a place that they safely can come and heal if they have been burnt out or if they've have some sort of misstep or something along those lines, that there's no judgment, there's just love here. And I just think that's very cool that CityHope has become known as that. You did kind a lead in into my next question, which is many people don't think of a church as a business that has an economic impact. So what stats might you be able to give us that would show otherwise?
Bart: Well, you're right. I mean that's not the first thing that jumps out at you whenever you are thinking about church, because really church should all be about the ministry of what's going on. But at the same time there is a side of it that is business oriented. There is an economic impact all around us. Not just with the ministry that's happening, but here at CityHope we employ you know, well over 50 people on our staff. And you know...
Marcus: That's full time staff member full or part time?
Bart: ...No. Those are full time and part time.
Marcus: Very Good.
Bart: But that's a lot of people.
Marcus: That is a lot of people, yes.
Bart: And certainly that those people are earning the incomes that they provide for their families with from us and all while doing ministry where we're pouring out 2 people who need ministry as well. So it's a great circle that just kind of keeps going and it’s great to be on that circle.
Marcus: Now you mentioned earlier when we were talking beforehand that there's also another side of that and that is that Bay Community Church is also not just casually donating to other ministries or other outreach kind of ministries in the area, but you are partnered with them. So what can you say about that as well?
Bart: Well that's the term that we like to use, is partner. You can do 2 things in ministry. You can give a little bit of resources and money and time and people to something or you can really partner with them. We look at it all of our missions and ministries and things that we support, we look at it as a partnership. So when they need something, we want them to know that they can count on us to, whether it’s with manpower, with people, with time, or with resources and money, that they can count on us to be that as a partner to them. You know, there's some ministries that you know what we're partnering with them on they just do a phenomenal job of doing that. And we don't need to create another ministry. We just need to partner with someone who’s already doing that ministry in an incredible way.
Marcus: Yeah. It's really cool to see that you know one of the things --we're not from the area but when we moved down here we recognized there's a church on every corner. And it was almost, we had a conversation just between my wife and I where it was like, "man if these groups would just kind set aside some of the smaller differences that they have and join together that the impact would be that much greater." And it makes me happy to hear it you are consciously just partnering with people that have a passion for whatever they're doing. You know whether it be Prodisee Pantry I know is one of the ones they partnered with. They have, Deann has a real passion for feeding people who need assistance and there's no replacing that. I mean she's built up a whole organization of folks that are focused in on that. But what are some of the other ministries here locally that you partner with?
Bart: We partner with Under His Wings, we partner with Light of the Village, over in Mobile and really there's so many of them that you know if I start trying to do a list, then I'll leave somebody out. But every one of them is important to us. And every one of them is great at what they do.
Marcus: Yeah it's been really cool. I want to talk to the gentleman that heads up Light of the Village because I just think that's a neat ministry. I know because I go here that we've just undergone a complete re brand. Tell us a little bit about the motivation behind that.
Bart: Well you know it really started with our Senior Pastor, Jerry Taylor, I mean God birthed Bay Community Church in his heart and as we've grown and really we have 2 international campuses now, one in Asia and one in Honduras. And as he begins to just hear from God and have God continue to lead him, you know God began to shift his focus and see that the scope of where and what we’re doing is bigger than just one community in one place. And really God's done that, and as we begin to look at that, Pastor was really directed and moved to make the name represent what God's doing. And that is we’re bringing hope to every city that were involved in. And that's bigger than anyone of us. It's always great to be involved in something that's way bigger than yourself. The thought that God is using us to bring hope into every city that were called to, which right now, that's 7 different cities that God has called us to. It's just an amazing thing, but it just better represents the vision.
Marcus: Right! It's literally a mission statement in two words.
Bart: It really is. It absolutely is.
Marcus: That's how I view it. I mean it's just a mission statement in two words. You mentioned Honduras, and obviously here in Malbis. What are the other campus locations just so?
Bart: The other campus locations, we have a campus in Mobile in Airport Boulevard at Airport and University, we also have a campus in Foley that currently is meeting at Foley Middle School. Then we have land in Foley and we're going to be building down there at some point. And then we have a brand new campus that we’re going to be launching in Bay Minette. And we’re really excited about that. We’re going to be launching a campus at Holman Prison.
Marcus: Which is just unbelievable.
Bart: It really is. And if there is anything that characterizes or examples our name, it is opening the Holman Prison campus, because we are bringing hope into a hopeless situation. And really that's what God's called us to do.
Marcus: And I can't remember who it was I was talking to. But they were mentioning how you know Holman Prison has been absolutely just excited about this. That is not just something that they’re kind of going along with because somebody has dictated from on high that this is going to happen. But they've really grasped the vision and that they're making every you know everything that they can do without you know endangering people that they are making those changes in order to make this happen, which is I just think is fantastic.
Bart: Yeah I don't know who’s more excited, them or us. But there's a lot of excitement on both sides.
Marcus: Yeah. A mutual respect there. Is there an area of the ministry that you're putting a lot of effort into, besides the name change and the re brand?
Bart: It's hard to pin point one. But there's always an emphasis at CityHope on outreach and worship. You know, between worship and outreach that's part of the DNA of who we are. So there's always an emphasis on those 2 areas.
Marcus: Yeah. It's kind of a bad question, especially the timing of this because we literally just launched as CityHope and so I know that...
Bart: So it's pretty dominating.
Marcus: I know. It's just like what else is there? You know for those of you that may not know. I mean you know it's the idea of re-branding --first of all coming up with a name and then there's all the collateral that goes along with that for a large organization. All the signage, and all the buildings, it's the signs outside, it’s everything from the t-shirts that the volunteers wear in the parking lot, to all of the slides that get used and so on and so forth. Everything...
Bart: In insurance, legal, finance. Everything has to be.
Marcus: It was kind an unfair question, so I apologize. But hopefully you'll get some rest and I know that you guys don't sit on your laurels. As a leader, what's the one most important thing that you've learned over your career here?
Bart: Invest in people. You know I had someone tell me this isn’t original to me but I had someone that I respected a lot that said this one time and I've kind of just grabbed a hold of it as my own. He said, "If you'll make the dreams of other people come true, God will make your dreams come true." And I just believe that if you live that way, and you just invest in people and you do it for their benefit and for their good, those people will do anything for you, number 1. And then God also keeps a record and he'll make your dreams come true as well. So I just think that's it. Invest in people; give everything you've got to people.
Marcus: That's a good answer. We're hearing that as recurring theme. What books or other resources have you read or have you seen that have influenced you as a leader?
Bart: Well there's a lot them. I'll just kind of maybe just touch on two that I've read recently. And that is a book by Bill Hybels, who is a Pastor up in the Chicago area. And it’s Just Walk Across the Room, it really articulates what I just said about valuing people, but it's just allowing us to be mindful of people, and mindful of the role that God may want us to play in their lives in some of the simplest ways. And you know just being willing to take that literally just take that Walk Across the Room just to see what God may want to deposit from you into that person. Or maybe it will be that they’re going to deposit something into you. But just not get so busy and just the business of all our lives. Everybody's busy these days, but just be willing to take that walk across the room and actually have relationship and start relationships with people. It's really of reminding me of a lot of things that I needed to be reminded of probably right about this time.
Marcus: Yes. Sometimes that walk is a daunting...
Bart: It is. It's intimidating sometimes. Because you don't know that person. You don't know what you're getting yourself into. You don't what kind of strings or hair is attached to what you're about to get involved in. But you know in my experience and definitely the experience of the book, it's you always find yourself walking away saying, "You know what, that was definitely worth it."
Marcus: It's also and I have found that, it's not always an insurmountable thing to help people with achieving whatever their goals are as well and so, you know like you're saying it's just a, it may just be a small little investment in that person and makes a huge difference.
Bart: When everybody's got expertise and you know if you're helping someone in an area that you have expertise in, it's rarely difficult to do that. Usually that's something that comes very natural to us and that's typically the areas that God will use you in. So you know that to do that doesn't require a lot of effort because it's something that comes real natural. And then another book that I've read recently is Leadership at Every Level. Which is not necessarily a church book, it's not necessarily a Christian book, it's more of a business leadership book. But what I have found in over 10 years of business experience and 12 years of ministry experience is just this, every good business principle is rooted in some principle out of the Bible and Leadership at Every Level is just that. If you look at what Jesus did --and this is not in the book because it's just me relating the book-- if you look at what Jesus did, He made leaders out of everyone around Him. He saw the great in people all around him and he pulled that out of them.
Marcus: Encouraged them.
Bart: He encouraged them. Push them along the way in that. And the book, the business book Leadership at Every Level, just teaches that you know what, there's value there's leadership in every person. And if whatever organization you're involved in, if you'll take the time to develop leaders at every level of your organization, all you're doing again you're making those dreams of those people come true. And the dreams of your organization will come true as a result of it because you're investing in people.
Marcus: Oh, that's really cool.
Bart: So it's really good.
Marcus: What other resources do you use? Are there any websites or any other resources that you use besides those two books?
Bart: Yeah. There's a couple of websites that are specific to Executive Pastors, which is my role, on the staffing and business side of the church. And so, I use those websites as a resource. There's different Podcasts that I listened to. Anything... I've got a new one that I will be listening to now, obviously. You know I like anything with Bill Hybels, Andy Stanley. Those guys are just such a great mix of they are Pastors, they’re both Senior Pastors but they have such a great handle on understanding the way business flows in the church. So both of those are great resources.
Marcus: It so often times the business aspect of a church gets kind of denied, right? And not that it, like you said earlier, not that it is the focus, but I think to achieve any level of success that there has to be some level of business acuity and will.
Bart: Yeah there does. It never needs to be the focus, but the ministry suffers if it’s not important.
Marcus: Right. Absolutely. What do you like to do in your free time? Do you have any hobbies?
Bart: I do. I love to play golf. I don't play it nearly as much as I should. I think God's calling me to play more golf. So, I'm waiting to see if that gets done or not but I love to play golf, I love the beach. Like I said, I grew up in Fairhope and just being that close to the beach growing up, any time I can get to the ocean, to the beach, it's soothing for me. And then I've got a 14 year old son and a 12 year old daughter. I enjoy doing anything that they're doing, as well. That's pretty much all my free time right there.
Marcus: Yeah. I was going to say I know how busy that can keep a parent. Is he playing? We don't have to mention the name, but is he playing baseball this year? I don't remember.
Bart: No. This is the first year in ten years that he's not playing baseball, but he is heavily involved. He's very musical. Very talented with that, so he's very involved with different music things and playing in the band at his school, and that keeps us busy too. My daughter's playing soccer. So we're traveling all around Mobile, Baldwin County and Pensacola and everywhere chasing her to these tournaments and that's fun too.
Marcus: That will definitely eat into a weekend. Give us a look at an average day, what does that look like for you?
Bart: Well for me it varies depending on the day of the week. I've got 1 day that really is meetings with staff and leadership meetings all day long. And then other days, I try to have at least one one on one meeting with all of my people that I directly oversee, once a month. So I kind of sprinkle those throughout a day each week and do that. And then it's just meetings. I do a lot of meetings on the business side of the church. There's always things that have to be done and met with and different from insurance and banking and all of that. I'm in a lot of meetings. And sometimes...
Marcus: Sounds like my worst nightmare. You know to constantly be in meetings.
Bart: You know it's funny Pastor Jerry described whenever I came on staff, five and a half years ago, he described me as being the half of him that he didn't like doing. Sometimes I don't know how to take that, but I think it’s good, because I do enjoy it.
Marcus: Well if it suits you and you enjoy it, and I know some people just the idea of getting up in front of several thousand people week after week and preaching a sermon, would just be terrifying. I don't know if that is you or not, I'm not putting that on you, but I can see how that would be a symbiotic relationship there.
Bart: Yeah. He communicates so well that he's right at home in that environment. And that I'm right at home in the business side. So, I think it's a good partnership.
Marcus: So tell us a little bit more about maybe the smaller rituals that fit into your day. I mean, do you wake up at a certain time? Do you immediately read or you know do you just get ready to go to work or what does that look like?
Bart: Yeah I try to get up usually most mornings around 6 AM. I'm not any good to anybody including myself until I have a cup of coffee. So, I definitely try to have that first cup of coffee before I try to even think about anything. And then I just I try to have a little bit of a quiet time before the kids get up. You know, it could be just you know some prayerful moments, to where I'm just kind of discussing with God what's going on in my day. And I typically pull out my iPad and read a little bit in the Word as I'm having my cup of coffee. And then usually around 6:30 I'm getting my kids up for school. And so that first 30 minutes of the day, is really valuable to me. And it kind of gets me kicked off and started in a good way.
Marcus: On the right foot.
Bart: Yeah. Then you know for the next hour, it's all about my kids. You know making sure that they're ready. Me and my wife kind of getting them together. And I love taking them to school. And so its kind of our time and so I do that. And then I try to get into the office little before nine o'clock. And then business of the meetings in the day starts.
Marcus: It's like a whirlwind, you know.
Bart: It typically is. Because it's such a busy place. I mean there's so many things going on. And so many incredibly gifted and talented people all around me that they're just as busy or busier than I am. And it all kind of comes together in this whirlwind that is a day.
Marcus: Where can people, not necessarily find you specifically unless you want to give that information, but where can people find more information about CityHope? What's going on here? How they can get involved? You know, that kind of thing.
Bart: Just go to the website which is, cityhope.cc. All the information is there about the church. And then all the service times and everything else. Just come visit and take a look at it. We're definitely a church that is all about Jesus, but probably a little different in the format and style of what maybe most people are used with church. I'd say just give it a shot and just see. But that be a great place to go. And then I'm on Facebook, and Twitter and Instagram, all that good stuff. I'm not the greatest at posting stuff very much on those locations but...
Marcus: Well you're on meetings all the time. When will you have time to post?
Bart: The biggest thing is just go to the church and all the information is there on the website and there's information that they can see about me as well.
Marcus: Yeah. On Twitter and Instagram. Are you Bart Hare on those as well or?
Marcus: Okay. Very Good. I want to thank you for coming on the Podcast. To wrap up, are there any other final thoughts or comments or things that we didn't cover that you'd like to share?
Bart: Well I just appreciate the opportunity to sit down and chat about what God's called us to do. It's really cool to talk to people about it, because you know it just feels like so much bigger than me and so much bigger than any of us individually, and so it's neat to just tell people about that and get to talk about it. But you know I think we covered so much in different areas. It’s just cool to think that as a parting thought I guess, that no matter what is in your heart no matter what God's put way deep down inside, it's just neat to think that so many people that are connected to CityHope, on our staff, all are doing things that twenty years ago there was never a position in any church that they could do that in. I mean, from graphic designing to video production to, you know, a business guy, who can be at the church doing profitable good things for the Kingdom of God. It's just neat so anybody that's out there that maybe listening that says you know...
Marcus: How do I use my gifts?
Bart: How do you use your gifts and God's interested in those gifts no matter what they are.
Marcus: That's very cool. Well, I appreciate your willingness to sit with me and share your journey as a business owner/entrepreneur/ministry volunteer/Pastor. It's been a real pleasure talking to you and I want to thank you for taking the time.
Bart: Thanks, Marcus. I appreciate it.