Hope Lutheran Church in The Villages, Florida


Hope Lutheran Church in The Villages, FL is bursting at the seams. With a mission of knowing Christ, and making Christ known, they take evangelism seriously, and as a result, have a complex and fast pace context. In 2020, more than 13 new people moved to The Villages every day. The congregation has diverse religious backgrounds with approximately 33% Lutheran, 33% Catholic, and 33% other denominations.

In 1998, a small congregation of faithful friends met for worship in local recreation centers. Today, their Central campus is overflowing with new visitors and faithful congregants. Daily programs, bible studies, and activities mean a large staff and volunteer team to keep up with the needs of the congregation and the community. They now have over 2,000 members, including seasonal associate members.

In addition to all the activity and movement happening at their Central campus, God was also at work in the north. In 2018, St. Johns Lutheran asked to be a full part of Hope Lutheran and became their Hope Lake Wier campus. Many of their members who live in what they call the South (of The Villages) drive 30 miles to Hope Lake Weir to volunteer at the food pantry as they seek to use their lives to make an impact on others. Last year, they completed a capital campaign to build a third campus south of their Central campus. They were already worshipping in the local community center there.

Growing the facilities and locations is challenging work, growing a council and staff to keep up with the rapid changes was a whole different challenge.

Anne Rieck McFarland, GSB Consultant, was invited to work with the council and staff of Hope to help them best navigate their rapid growth from the perspective of operational leadership. Anne facilitated a workshop with them off campus. “Well, every day since our return from Crystal River someone mentions how impressed they were with your professional background and guidance, and how productive our time together was,” shared Kristina, Hope council president. “I cannot express strongly enough my appreciation for our diligent prep work, including the surveys. I feel they really paid off. We all appreciate your straightforward comments and direction during the meetings, and people are still excited about following through.”Their work with Anne resulted in a re-organization of staff for better effectiveness. They learned to lean into the gifts of pastoral care and the gifts of administration within their senior leadership to best manage the complex office, large staff, and moving parts of their daily work and strategic planning. Today, they turn their attention to growing their Annual Fund giving to support the increase in ministry initiatives that result from their rapid growth. They are now learning from Rev. Nathan Swenson-Reinhold, GSB Partner, in our Stewardship for All Seasons program.

As a firm, we believe strongly in the power of the Holy Spirit showing up in our congregations to breathe new life and do a new thing. We are delighted when congregations take the often hard and necessary steps to position themselves to embrace the calling of the Spirit and grow in ways they never imagined. We are honored to be a part of this holy work.

Written By Mitzie Schafer