Few leaders master leadership. Bobby Hawk may be one of the exceptions. As Lead Pastor of EPIC Church, local businessman, Blue Springs School Board member, and student in pursuit of his Doctorate of Education in Organizational Leadership, Bobby Hawk has majored in leadership his whole life. His chosen roles require people to want to follow him, elect him or listen to him. The philosophy that guides him is simple: He searches for things to say yes to that are bigger than himself. Bobby explains “I focus more on what I am inspired to be than where I am now. My purpose is to ask how I can help others achieve theirs”. As a pastor, Bobby’s secular and non-secular lives become one and his goal is to exemplify the style of Jesus who was multi-dimensional. Bobby recognizes “God wired me a certain way and I know He wants me to be true to myself. So, I stick to my strengths and not regret having to find others who do things well that I don’t.” He sticks to leading and encouraging others to help him solve problems along the way.
What are the secrets of Bobby’s successful leadership and many accomplishments? For one thing, there are few people in Kansas City who are more connected than Bobby, but he flies under the radar. His outgoing nature, sense of humor, opportunistic attitude and competitive spirit have led him to being on a first name basis with many -from top Kansas City sports figures to Christ disciples around the world. Those connections are invaluable as both a learning tool and success catalyst. “As a young minister I had to learn a lot of diverse skills such as finance, managing people, and inspiring people to act. I met with many to learn, imitated what applied, and innovated what didn’t,” Bobby said.
Bobby was an entrepreneur at an early age, figuring out how to raise money. He sold food to school friends. “I would ask my grandfather to take me to the store before school and buy 15 items for $5 and sell them at school that day for $1 each.” He says he was driven by need as his mom just scraped by. “Money is a tool,” Bobby says, “it fuels goals”. He understands how to ask for what is needed and to create new revenue sources not typical of most churches. Bobby shared, “There is a finance side to church. Just as people funded Jesus’ ministry, we have ministry goals as well. It is all in how you ask.” Bobby’s business skills allow the church to operate with a fully paid mortgage. The church has run several businesses—a coffee and merchandise shop inside the church, a kid’s daycare, the EPIC sports lodge—all creating opportunity for more community connections and visibility. “The EPIC Sports Lodge is not overt outreach, but I love sports and they are phenomenal at helping young people find a worthwhile pursuit and teaches them character attributes like teamwork and strong work ethic. It also provides a venue for the church to host events in the community. It paid for itself when we bought it and we had a highly creative financing package which didn’t require church reserves. Its revenue helps us fund other goals.”
Always a member of church, he felt called to ministry at age 14 while in a youth camp. He began serving more in church, teaching younger children, and even speaking at small churches without pastors. These efforts fueled his interest even more, and he attended Evangel University (formerly Central Bible College) in Springfield to earn his degree in theology. By the age of twenty-two he had started his own church in Pontiac, MI. Five years later in 2009 he was called to Kansas City to start EPIC which has grown from 14 people in 2009 to approximately 500 today not counting online congregants.
Bobby has an infectious heart for missions and the church is a dedicated supporter of over ten international missions, able to donate considerable sums due to his contagious enthusiasm. One ministry in particular has shown great returns, using a new approach, Journey Worship. Through its online outreach, over 31,000 people have watched videos in the past four months that introduce them to Christ and almost 1600 have committed to Him, helping accomplish EPIC’s mission of making heaven more crowded.
More than most leaders I interview, Bobby is transparent and straightforward. He credits God for opening doors, and he is more than willing to walk through them to create opportunities. To do that he steps out of his comfort zone. Bobby believes, “You have to know yourself, push yourself.” In fact, his dissertation for his doctorate is on the correlation between enneagram type and educators. He knows that there is a disproportionate number of large church (five hundred or more members) pastors who emerge as one of two enneagram types—either a 3 (achiever) or 8 (challenger). “Type is not good or bad, but it makes you who you are, and knowing that can help you accomplish more. There is a positive and negative to every type, so awareness is key. I am a three. It doesn’t box you in, but reveals the box you are in.”
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Bobby’s path was not always clear or straight. Growing up in a single parent home, the one thing he knew for sure is he did not want to walk the path his father did. He seeks learning in everything he does. Often through others, but also through his own education. Since graduating with a theology degree he has acquired his Masters in Organizational Leadership, and is currently pursuing a second Masters degree in Advanced Leadership Theory and his Doctorate in Education. It is no surprise that he has become an active member of community leadership with his role on the Blue Springs School Board, church ownership of EPIC Sport Lodge and additional church plants. Bobby understands, as most true leaders do, so much more can be accomplished through and with others, not just by personal achievement.
While an achiever by nature, Bobby believes it is dangerous to focus on winning for winning sake. “One risk is trying to make everything look like a victory, when it isn’t. That is self-deception. The goals are to win with others, for others.” He believes it is important to let others call you out if they feel you have become too zealous or take yourself too seriously. “Humor is a wonderful way to connect. People connect to you more through your struggles than your successes and humor, particularly self-deprecating humor, is one way to do that. And besides, who wants to be too serious about their failures.” EPIC Church in Independence meets Sundays at 9 am and 11am. https://www.epicchurchkc.com/.Biography
Bobby is the Lead Pastor of EPIC Church in Independence, Missouri. Bobby also serves as the Executive Director of the EPIC Sports Lodge. He serves on many boards including the Blue Springs School District Board of Education. Bobby holds a Bachelor’s in Bible/Theology along with a Master’s in Organizational Leadership from Evangel University. He’s currently working on a second Master’s degree and his Doctor of Education in Leadership from Northwest University. Bobby is a passionate Christ follower, a loving husband and father, a gifted communicator, and a visionary pastor. Bobby also travels to Israel, Jordan, Italy, Turkey and Greece with the Center for Holy Land Studies as one of the teachers for group trips.