male salvation army officer (pastor) smiling in a portrait

104: The deeper meaning behind the call to Love Beyond with Captain Doug Hanson

In our last episode, you heard about The Salvation Army’s call to “Love Beyond.”

The message is simple: When we love beyond hunger, love beyond shelter, love beyond disasters, and more, we can provide hope and help for millions who need it.

The world needs us—it needs you—to, as Scripture says in 1 Peter 4:8, “Above all, love.”

And, notably, whoever you are and wherever you are, there is a place for you in The Salvation Army—to join with us and Love Beyond all else.

This call is being sent across the U.S. and communities are finding creative ways to bring attention to it.

Like in Colorado Springs, where a three-week scavenger hunt had people all across southern Colorado looking for a red box from The Salvation Army.

Captain Doug Hanson is the County Coordinator and Corps Officer, or pastor, in Colorado Springs.

He’s on the show today to share more about this creative effort and the deeper meaning behind the call to Love Beyond.

So allow me to introduce to you today, Captain Doug Hanson.

Show highlights include:

  • More on the idea behind Love Beyond.
  • How The Salvation Army is launching it in Colorado Springs?
  • Why this campaign is centered on the idea of love.
  • The life of Jesus is often described as a display of what love looks like.
  • Why Captain Doug loves The Salvation Army.
  • How anyone can get involved and Love Beyond right where they are.

Listen and subscribe to the Do Gooders Podcast now. Below is a transcript of the episode, edited for readability. For more information on the people and ideas in the episode, see the links at the bottom of this post.

* * *

Christin Thieme: Captain Doug, welcome to the show. Thank you for being on The Do Gooders Podcast today.

Doug Hanson: Thank you, thank you for having us.

Christin Thieme: Absolutely. We are excited to talk about Love Beyond here, but I’m wondering before we jump into that, if you can just give us a quick overview of your story and a little bit about what do as part of The Salvation Army.

Doug Hanson: Okay, great. Me and my wife, Captain Doug and Betsy Hanson, we are stationed here in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and love it. Don’t move us ever. But we really love Colorado just as a region, the front range and we’re not in the big city of Denver so we’re happy with that. But Colorado Springs appointment is a pretty large appointment. We have a lot of different programs here and a fairly large budget. But on the personal side, we like to get outdoors, got two daughters. We got a 17-year-old about to graduate high school, Lord help us, and a two-year-old because we don’t know how to family plan. We have one that hasn’t even started school and one about to finish it.

Christin Thieme: Oh my goodness. Well, I also have a two-year-old, so I can empathize with you on that one.

Doug Hanson: No is the word around the house for mine.

Christin Thieme: Yes. Yep. Can you give us just a little picture about, what do you do? I mean, you’re appointed to Colorado Springs. What exactly does that mean?

Doug Hanson: Yeah, more specifically we are the county coordinators. That means we are in charge of what The Salvation Army does here countywide. There’s two corps here, so they just wanted one person or one set of officers to kind of dictate more of like the marketing, or the large things like Angel Tree or Kettles, just to make sure that these two corps are consistent to the public eye.

We are over that larger operation, we have a homeless shelter here. We have three apartment complexes, housing phase two homeless families and a very large homeless veterans program. Actually it was rated number one in the state this year for successful graduates out of our homeless veterans program that they move into self sufficiency. We have an afterschool center, like in The Salvation Army vernacular, a Red Shield. We have the soup kitchen, a food pantry. There’s a lot going on over here.

Christin Thieme: Sounds like it.

Doug Hanson: We govern that. Then we’re pastors, as anyone in the Army would know, we pastor a church and have the youth group and Sunday services to get ready for. It’s a lot, but we have a lot of great staff and volunteers that make it all happen.

Christin Thieme: Sounds like a lot’s going on. I love it. The Salvation Army recently introduced Love Beyond. I’m wondering if you can share as an officer or pastor in The Salvation Army, what exactly is Love Beyond?

Doug Hanson: Yeah, well thank you. That’s a loaded and big question. But Love Beyond at first, what it came down to as a marketing plan and then what it’s become, what is the deeper meaning. At first, the marketing side of things, Love Beyond was The Salvation Army was trying to highlight, not trying to, but successfully highlighting to the community what we do and that it’s kind of a play, or not a play, maybe a better way of phrasing: Need Knows No Season.

That was another marketing campaign we had, oh boy, I don’t know, in the 80s or 90s, Need Knows No Season. But Love Beyond is that we love beyond Christmas and really highlighted at The Salvation Army, we’re here all year round because the general public thinks we’re a thrift store or that we ring bells in our thrift store, but we love beyond just Christmas time. And more of the deeper meaning to it, more the pastoral side of me, or I suppose really the deeper meaning of why the marketing team came up with it, because The Salvation Army is much deeper than the initial understanding that the general public has of us, that we do so much more and the why behind what we do or the love beyond what we do is very important.

I would say it’s this, that we love beyond just giving out food. We love beyond just a night of shelter. We love in ways that are deeper and more valuable than utility assistance or rental assistance or a hot meal. It’s really because we’re compelled by the love of Jesus, which I think means we’re never going away. We’ve been here 130 some odd years and we’re going to be here for another 130 and beyond and that we love beyond because we share the love of Jesus Christ in everything that we do.

Christin Thieme: Yeah, absolutely. Back to that verse in 1 Peter, Above all, love (4:8). How are you launching this campaign, this idea, this effort at visibility all year? How are you launching it in Colorado Springs?

Doug Hanson: Great question. Internally and to the broader county population, it’s gone from kind of more of a marketing plan to the broader population, but still highlighting the Love Beyond. Then internally, like in our programs, it’s much more preachy, let’s say. But to the general public we’ve, well we kind of went nuts and had a lot of fun with it. On Valentine’s Day as it was launched nationwide, we recorded a handful of commercials the days prior. We launched a big campaign to brag about, to talk about all the different things that The Salvation Army in our county does. To that end, to make people listen and pay attention a lot more.

Well, we were talking or pitching this marketing as it was in its rough stages of like, we want to do something that would highlight the Army as we were talking with our TV sponsor, KKTV, as we were talking with them and they instantly perked up with a few suggestions and they came up with one idea and all of us just spiraled out of control with what it could be.

What it ended up being was something that was a lot more fun and marketable than deep and meaningful. We still kept the deep meaning in there, but what it was is a scavenger hunt all throughout town, so every day, two of these red boxes with Love Beyond and highlighting what The Salvation Army does all around the box, but they were hidden throughout town, two a day for three weeks straight. All throughout Southern Colorado, so Colorado Springs, all the way down to Pueblo and up into the more mountainous regions, a couple in some of those smaller towns.

But every day two were hidden and you had to watch KKTV to find out where these two Love Beyond boxes were hidden. But then when they would watch where they were hidden, so that’s just the marketing schtick, to get people to run around town, looking for a box. When they would watch, they would see commercials from me and Captain Betsy, me and my wife, and we were highlighting what The Salvation Army does in the county. We were telling them, “This is how we love Beyond. It’s by doing all these different programs in Jesus’ name.” We encouraged the community, “Find ways that you can Love Beyond and love your neighbor, love your family, love your coworkers, love beyond just the normal way that you love.” That’s how we launched our campaign.

Christin Thieme: I love that. Kind of an invitation to join in.

Doug Hanson: Yeah, yeah, it’s tough because you, the more preachy you get, the more of the heart of The Salvation Army you’re highlighting, but I think the lesser of an audience, so I don’t want to dilute our mission, but we also want to reach as large and broad of an audience as possible. We tried to incorporate both. The whole fun of the scavenger hunt and then the Love Beyond, that just preaches good right there. As someone says, the mic gets thrown in your face, “Well what does this mean to you?” It’s just too easy to talk about the love of Jesus Christ and that we love beyond because we’re a Christian entity. We are a church.

Christin Thieme: Yeah, it’s nice it gives you that opportunity. I mean, this sounds like a lot of fun and I imagine people were out there looking for these boxes. What was the response?

Doug Hanson: Oh yeah. I didn’t even highlight what was in the box. Geez Louise. Why would people go looking out for a box even in on snowy days? It’s because, well we partnered with a whole lot of different agencies, Scheels Sporting Goods, which I don’t know if you’ve, if our audience here has ever heard of Scheels Sporting Goods, but they’re like the Bass Pro Shop of sporting goods. I mean the store is way too big. They have a Ferris wheel in the middle.

Christin Thieme: Oh my goodness.

Doug Hanson: Yeah. They’re just massive. It’s just so huge. You can get lost in there. But I only say that because they gave dozens of gift cards. We had a jewelry shop give away jewelry, like the big one was a $750 diamond heart-shaped pendant. Then chocolate stores gave tons of chocolate.

We were trying to make it like a Valentine’s Day thing. Well the sporting goods didn’t really have much to do with it. That was just a fun gift. But chocolates, we had gift cards to a floral shop, to the jewelry store and, then this was a big one, the big show arena in town. They gave four tickets for every box and we had 40 boxes, so that was 160. They were tickets to see either Disney on Ice or very unromantic was the fun, the monster truck rally. The winner could pick, so we didn’t put the tickets inside, but all the other stuff was. When they brought in their box to the jewelry store, which gave them a bit of a plug, when they brought the box into the jewelry store, they got to pick the four tickets that they wanted to go, what show they wanted to go to.

That made it a fun prize, worth, oh boy, well it really depended how lucky you were with the Scheels gift cards, but the tickets to the shows was almost $200 valued and then the chocolates and you had a random gift card to either the sporting goods or the floral or if you lucked out the jewelry so you got a few hundred dollars.

Christin Thieme: Oh awesome. People were out there looking for these boxes?

Doug Hanson: Yes. I probably took way too long talking about what’s in the box, but that also made the cost of this marketing campaign. It was valued at like $20,000, but The Salvation Army, we only paid just over $2,000 for our portion of it, but we were the centerpiece, nonprofit. Everyone else was joined in, with Scheels and the jewelry store. The floral.

Christin Thieme: Group effort.

Doug Hanson: Yeah. Group payment and group effort, praise the Lord.

Christin Thieme: Were there any fun stories of people who found the boxes?

Doug Hanson: Yes. A lot of them, and we were trying, we had the hashtag Love Beyond, as was announced with the national campaign. We were encouraging a lot of people to post pictures of where they found it. Then when you would just search the hashtag Love Beyond, you’d see a million things from all over the nation, but I would see a handful of the Springs one.

We were posting them as well. You would see these people in just the most random places, other cities, because like I said, it was all of Southern Colorado, which was the media market for KKTV, the TV sponsor that was doing this. They wanted to make sure that it was in, Pueblo’s about an hour south of Colorado Springs, so the region wasn’t so vast, but pretty significant. But yeah, you would see people from all over, holding their box in the random spot where they found it and it just ended becoming a fun marketing campaign.

The TV station said they did this scavenger hunt type vibe like four years ago for another for-profit entity, another business. When they heard our idea, that’s when they said, “Our best marketing campaign we ever had, with the most people using our hashtags, the most people engaging, was this scavenger hunt.” We thought it went really, really well and it got more people. The TV station said they had an uptick every time for the morning and evening show. It wasn’t a massive uptick, but an uptick in audience to see where the boxes were hidden and then, well they heard about The Salvation Army and Love Beyond.

Christin Thieme: I love it, sounds like a lot of fun. It gave you, like you said, a chance to talk about some of that deeper meaning. I’m wondering if you can share a little bit with us. You touched briefly on this, but why is this campaign centered on the idea of love?

Doug Hanson: I think, well I wasn’t in the room when they came up with this national one, but our thought here, because we have a marketing director here in Colorado Springs. Me and my wife talking with our marketing director, who’s just really stellar, Jeane Turner, as we were talking about it, we’re really thinking more of our thoughts of why it’s highlighting love, is because the work that The Salvation Army does really goes unnoticed in America.

It’s really uniquely an American issue that The Salvation Army is not known as a Christian organization. The Salvation Army is really just known for thrift stores and bell ringing at Christmas time. When you stick the word love in there, to each person that has a different meaning, but it preaches better. It tells our story better. When someone says, “Why this campaign name?” Or, “Why are you using the campaign name?” What does this mean to The Salvation Army when others ask, when board members ask, when the media’s in front of us asking about this campaign. It gets us a better opportunity to tell them about The Salvation Army.

Now what do I mean by that? I think the whole premise of our great organization, The Salvation Army or the Lord’s great organization, The Salvation Army is that we show love beyond just preaching. We don’t expect salvation people to get saved and discipled because they came to our church, but because the church came to them, you know what I mean? Like we go to the streets or we meet them at their low point, that we very intentionally and some might not like it. It might make us an undesirable church, but we minister to the least of these. Sometimes that means the makeup of our church is a little funny or a little odd or a little different or some set of peculiar people.

But that’s intentional because we love beyond. That means we’re going to find people in their lowest state. I think the Love Beyond campaign is a, boy it’s a real high-level way of describing our mission, which is to go beyond, to do something to show, not just tell, but to show the love of God. I love it. I think it’s a great way to highlight The Salvation Army and it’s a great campaign that we’re finding other ways to use it all year round over here in Colorado Springs and not just for this couple week campaign that we did.

Christin Thieme: Yeah, absolutely. We often hear the life of Jesus described as a display of what love looks like. Can you share more about that?

Doug Hanson: Yeah. Now when I hear that and I think everyone kind of comes up with their own conclusion of what that means or their own assumption and they’re all really good and maybe just slight variations, but that Jesus showed the love. The majority of, look at where the miracles of Jesus happened. Almost all of them were outside of the church building. They were not in the synagogue. When you see the acts of Jesus, they were not done in the church. And so so often we’ll see other churches, that they’ll get out of their walls and we consider it a noteworthy thing like when the other big church down the street is doing other outreach things, the backpack, back to school backpack, or they’re doing other things and they’re getting outside of the church walls, that’s considered a noteworthy event.

And so it is. But that’s what The Salvation Army’s been doing since our infancy. We didn’t even start out with church walls, but we started doing. It’s just been the consistent, the very consistent mantra or a standard operating procedure of The Salvation Army. From the very first day, we put a tent up in the East End of London to feed hungry, homeless and hurting people. That’s what we’re still doing today in many, many different forms.

Certainly, our organization has changed structure and changed what we do, but why we do it, that has never changed. We do what we do because we saw Jesus do it first. Though he didn’t give out food boxes, he just gave out free fish and food. Free fish and bread. Though Jesus didn’t help people out with their utility bills, but he was going to the marketplace. He was going to the hillside, to the places where the people were and serving and helping and loving beyond just the typical synagogue teaching or the typical church teaching and showing the love of God and saying the love of God. You got to do both. We just get caught up in our acts, but we have to get caught up in telling people about Jesus, but also showing people about Jesus and well, I think I’m beating a dead horse or I’m just getting preachy here. I’m going to pass the offering plate around here though.

Christin Thieme: Not at all. Kind of along those lines, why do you personally love The Salvation Army?

Doug Hanson: I think I just highlighted it. It’s that same thing, is that it’s a real practical way that when I’m talking with other pastors, we are not better than other denominations. I preface that with, because I’m about to brag about us, but that we do really well at showing people the love of God. Sometimes, and this is really, golly it’s highlighting the “soup, soap and salvation,” which is a three-line, like a summarization of our mission statement almost from our founder, that you can’t tell people about how good the love of God is or how good Jesus is if they’re starving. You first need to feed them before you can tell them about Jesus. They can’t hear you.

Or it’s like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. You can’t tell me how to improve my spiritual life when my physical life is like dying or I’m starving, or the stress of not knowing how I’m going to turn on the utilities or pay my rent. When I have those stresses to deal with, those people can’t hear. It’s almost impossible to hear about the love of Jesus because the stress of their life is so difficult.

But if you can take care of that, kind of like the acts of the Slum Sisters in the Great Depression and before then, how they would take care of people’s natural needs. Only after they’d helped someone bathe the kids, feed them, clean the house, would they say, “I’d like to share with you about love of Jesus.” Then they would. I love The Salvation Army. Sorry, I love Jesus. I really love that he called me to this great work of his in The Salvation Army, because I think it’s a great way of showing and telling people about the love of God.

I get to preach all the time and heck most of my sermons, I don’t even prepare for, because I’m just at the homeless shelter and someone’s asking me a question and there’s like eight people around, so I’m talking loud so they can all hear me talking about the love of Jesus.

I love that more people in The Salvation Army come to salvation, not on Sundays, but on weekdays. Well, that’s been my experience. I don’t know if that’s statistically true for our church. But that we are active in the work of Jesus Christ all week long and not just Wednesday night, midweek service, Thursday night, Bible studies and Sunday morning services like maybe more of our other church friends do. We have a lot to learn from them. I’m not saying that we’re the best denomination, but I prefer ours.

Christin Thieme: Yeah. It’s a display of love.

Doug Hanson: Yes. That was a long-winded. Wait, you summarized me well, I got to say.

Christin Thieme: Teamwork. So how can someone listening get involved and Love Beyond in their own way, alongside The Salvation Army, right where they are?

Doug Hanson: Yeah. I think it’s more important right where they’re at. Though I would love to plug, go to The Salvation Army’s websites, other than just going there, if you want to participate, you personally, sitting at home, you want to participate in Love Beyond, just find new ways to show people love or to do something for someone else, to give money to somebody else that’s hurting. Sure you can give it to us, but I think it’s an individual calling that we all have, and it’s to Love Beyond. You might know someone that’s hurting, that’s close by, a family member, a relative and you wish them well and you pray. But what about giving them $100 or babysitting their kids for a single mom who has children, babysitting their kids and giving her some time off or him.

But just finding another practical way. I was just trying to list a couple, but to Love Beyond, to show something, to go a little bit further than you had in the past. I think really, it’s when we step out and do something different that you get a different response and a different return. You are lonely or depressed yourself. Well maybe if you didn’t… maybe if you spent, if you found a way to Love Beyond, even in the midst of your downtime or you’re feeling down, that you might find that all that Love Beyond wasn’t just for the other person, but in some way, it also helped you. I just think if we Love Beyond, showed the tangible and told people about the love of God, then I think it’s going to bless our soul just as much as it does to the other people.

Christin Thieme: Absolutely. Wherever you are, whoever you are, there’s a place for you in this effort to Love Beyond.

Doug Hanson: While I have the preaching mic, if I could even say this, even if you don’t have a relationship with Jesus, or you would say that, “I in no way could talk about the love of Jesus.” Because you personally listening to me, don’t have a close relationship with Jesus, you know that you could Love Beyond and you could just, I’m talking just to help and to care for others more than yourself for like 10 minutes or an hour, or just do more than you had in the past. I don’t think it’s trying to milk more or squeeze more out of you, but you’ll find that you get a greater blessing by helping other people and that it’s going to encourage you. Even if you’re not in a bad place and you’re very chipper and life is going well for you, find a way to bless other people more and you just might find out that life can go even better or can feel even more satisfying and rewarding.

Christin Thieme: That’s right. Well Captain, thank you so much for sharing all about this and for all the work that you’re doing. It’s fun to hear about.

Doug Hanson: Yeah. It was fun to be part of this program with the scavenger hunt throughout town and to have another great marketing campaign to highlight the great work of the Lord and The Salvation Army.

Christin Thieme: Yeah. We’ll be watching Colorado Springs to see what’s next.

Doug Hanson: Hey, hey, there you go.

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