NASHVILLE — Hobby Lobby owners Steve and Jackie Green opened up about the "phenomenal" response they've seen from the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. and revealed they're just at the "starting line" when it comes to fulfilling their mission of sharing the Gospel around the world.
The Greens, who co-founded the Museum of the Bible, told The Christian Post they've been pleasantly surprised by the success of the museum, which has welcomed more than 350,000 visitors since its opening in November.
"Two of the common comments that stand out to me is that they didn't have enough time, many visitors say, because you can spend hours or days in the museum," Steve Green told CP. "The other is that it exceeded their expectations."
The term "Bible museum" doesn't necessarily call to mind something that's very engaging, he said, but the museum is highly interactive and uses state-of-the-art technology to make exhibits interesting and accessible for entire families.
"We use electronics and a lot of current media to try to make the story, to the book, come alive," he said. "That's what's been fun about seeing our visitors really enjoy the museum."
When asked why the museum appeals to both Christians and non-Christians alike, Steve Green explained that instead of espousing any certain religion, the Museum of the Bible simply seeks to present the history, impact, and narrative of the Bible.
"We are telling this book's story," he said. "It's not about a denomination, a church, a faith tradition. It's about a book that runs through multiple faith traditions whether it be Catholic or Protestant or Jewish traditions."
"We wanted an atheist to feel comfortable in the museum, they don't feel like we're pushing an agenda," he continued. "The average person that doesn't really fully understand to the degree that this book has impacted their life, they can walk away from this museum and realize it's had an impact on their life whether they realize it or not."
Their efforts have paid off. The Greens recounted some of encouraging stories they've heard from visitors whose interest in the Bible was revived after visiting the museum.
"A gentleman that we know, his father didn't ever want to read the Bible, and when he was growing up didn't go with them and their family to church. Since he's been to the museum, he's reading his Bible again," Jackie Green said. "I think it helps people, whether they love the book or not, to learn more about it, to have a greater understanding, and I think it impacts their life. We want people to be intrigued by the book and learn more about it."
The glowing responses aren't just from adults; Steve Green shared the story of a woman who chaperoned her daughter's class trip to Washington and received an overwhelmingly positive reaction.
"They were doing all the normal tourists sites and came to the Bible museum. At the end, they asked [the kids] what their favorite was, and unanimously it was the Museum of the Bible," he said. "And I had just heard that from a family who'd said the same thing, and they'd brought their two boys. Within a few days, I'd heard the same story twice. Those are exciting stories we like to hear."
The museum, which would require 72 hours to view in its entirety, includes a replica of the Gutenberg Press, 400 historic artifacts that show how the Bible has changed over time, first editions of the King James Bible, fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and an interactive Nazareth village. It also features Elvis Presley's Bible, the world's biggest private collection of Torahs, and a Bible from the collection of famed evangelist Billy Graham.
"With his passing, a lot of people are recognizing his life was built upon the Bible," Steve Green said of Graham, who died last month at the age of 99. "Many times he said, 'The Bible says.' That was his point: 'I'm not saying this, I'm just telling you what the Bible says.' That's what was so important to him and what made his life so impactful was simply sharing this book story with millions of people all over the world."
The Greens further document the incredible, unexpected journey that led to the Museum of the Bible in their new book, This Dangerous Book: How the Bible Has Shaped Our World and Why It Still Matters Today.
"We tell a little bit about how the Bible impacted our own lives as well as a little bit about the Bible itself and why we felt so passionate about building a museum for it," Steve Green shared. "That's what got us started on this journey."
The museum, he added, is really just at the "starting line," as it has unlimited potential to reach millions with the Gospel. Outside of the museum, the Greens are also engaged in various efforts surrounding the Bible, including an archaeological dig outside Israel, biblical research, worldwide traveling exhibits, and high school Bible curricula.
"There's a lot of opportunities to take this story outside of the museum and take it to people who may never make it to the museum," Steve Green concluded.