Mission and Purpose Q&A
By Samaritan staff · Dec 20, 2021
Chief Purpose Officer Anthony Hopp and Chief Operations Officer Will Cooper explain ministry priorities for serving Christ and members
As Samaritan Ministries enters a new phase of its history with Mark Zander as our new Chief Executive Officer, we’re also strengthening our Purpose and Mission to redeem health care and serve the Body of Christ. As part of that effort, Will Cooper has been named Chief Operational Officer and Anthony Hopp is in the newly created position of Chief Purpose Officer. We recently sat down with Mark, Will, and Anthony to talk about what this means for the ministry and, most importantly, for the members.
Samaritan Ministries: Anthony, what’s a “Chief Purpose Officer”?
Anthony: When the Board of Directors was considering Ted Pittenger’s transition out of the CEO role, they realized it was critical for us to position ourselves to stay true to his original purpose, so that’s one reason we need a Chief Purpose Officer. We also want to ensure that everything we do is integrated with and aligned to Samaritan’s Purpose and Mission.
The purpose of this role is to help and encourage us to be 100 percent faithful to Jesus and His Word as we fulfill our mission. Yes, we want to guard against any kind of drift, but we're not intending that the Chief Purpose Officer role be only a defensive position. We want everything we do to emanate out of our Purpose, thus expanding our ministry impact.
Samaritan: Will, what’s the focus of the Chief Operating Officer position?
Will: The COO role is focused on the daily operations of the ministry, coupled with leading the execution of our ministry strategies that are developed by our Ministry Cabinet.
Samaritan: Mark, as the new CEO, you asked Anthony and Will to serve in these new positions. How do you see their expertise helping Samaritan better serve the members?
Mark: Anthony has been with the ministry 24 years. In my view, he is a personification of the culture of the ministry. He loves Jesus, has a passion for His Word, and loves our members. I can’t think of a better person than Anthony to help us strengthen how we walk out our Purpose every day here at the ministry. With me being a fairly new guy assuming the CEO role, I wanted to make sure that our Purpose stayed central to every single thing we do. One of the best ways to do that is to create a senior leadership position that focuses on our Purpose 24/7/365. It was incredibly important to me.
God made Will uniquely in that he’s a passionate pastor and lover of Jesus who has also been called to be a tremendous operator of organizations. He was our Chief Information Officer prior to this, and his technology experience is going to be extremely valuable as we go into the future with the ministry. And he’s just been an extremely valuable member of our team, helping us get better at what we do—more efficient and effective in our staff operations.
Samaritan: Will, how are you going to approach your job? What are your priorities?
Will: I’m the conductor of this wonderful operations orchestra, and the orchestra is going to be made up of these amazing individuals that make up the Operating Council and who are really playing this beautiful, melodious sheet of music God has given us. It’s not about me, it’s about the team. Think about that orchestra setting. Every person has their part, and when those parts come together, beautiful music is made. All I’m doing is conducting them, pushing them in the right direction, and providing a servant-leadership approach that will allow us to operate at a level of diligence that will enhance our operational efficiencies across the ministry.
Our purpose and mission serve as clear focal points that help us all align and move in the same direction.
My top priorities as I start to serve in this role include continuing to establish prayer as the foundation of our operating model—putting God first in all that we do—and developing an operating model for the ministry that will allow more efficiency and seamless collaboration among our departments.
Samaritan: Anthony, how will you, as the new CPO, serve the members?
Anthony: Our Purpose is the lighthouse that guides us in our decision making. It’s what keeps us on track. Our Purpose and Mission serve as clear focal points that help us all align and move in the same direction.
Another aspect is helping the staff realize how their individual roles connect to the overall mission. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks, so I want to be an encourager and a cheerleader to remind all of us that what we’re doing has eternal implications. Staff members are not just helping somebody with an issue with their medical bill or building a piece of technology that serves our members or balancing the books—it all comes back to growing and maturing as disciples. At the heart of it is obeying what Jesus told us to do: love God with everything we have and to love our neighbors the best we can right where we’re at through each of us faithfully using our gifts.
Samaritan: Will, you’ve been here for almost two years. What has your experience been serving at Samaritan?
Will: When I arrived at Samaritan Ministries as CIO in March 2020, I was amazed at what God had created. When you hear Ted’s story about the humble beginnings of this ministry, and you observe the journey and accomplishments of this great staff over the past 27 years, it’s amazing. So, embracing the concept of health care sharing through the lens of Samaritan Ministries International has been a great experience for me. It was great to see the discipline of health care sharing. That was number one.
Number two is seeing the love of the staff at Samaritan. They each have the heart of a servant. The staff here are just loving; they’re open, and they want to do the right thing for the members, and that was very inspiring.
Prayer, the Word, devotionals, discipleship are just built into the DNA of everything that we do here at the ministry.
I am honored to be a part of such a dynamic team that is excited about doing God’s will. It is refreshing to be a part of ministry that focuses on helping others.
I think of how Samaritan members have been bearing each other’s burdens almost three decades and what it meant to join that. And, it’s such an honor to take my experience with general marketplace operational acumen and place that in the service of the Holy Spirit at work in this ministry.
Samaritan: Anthony, how are we going to keep Christ and the Word as Samaritan’s center?
Anthony: There are so many voices and changing opinions and ideas, but the one true voice is God and His Word. That’s the one thing that doesn’t change. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. In Him we live and move and exist, and so inherent in being a disciple is keeping Jesus at the center. That’s what a disciple is—a disciple follows his teacher. Our Teacher, our Savior, our Advocate, our Righteous Judge—is Jesus Christ. We need to remind each other of this. God and His Word are our “True North” and absolute truth.
One way we keep Jesus and His Word at the center is through prioritizing prayer as an organization. This is why we have half-hour times of staff prayer every Wednesday and Friday.
Before their weekly meetings, our senior leadership team reads God’s Word and spends time placing the needs of the members and ministry in prayer. That same devotion is seen throughout the entire ministry. You can tell a lot about what is important by what activities happen regularly, and I see prayer everywhere. It’s evidenced by how our Member Care Center cares for members as they pray on the phone and minister to our members. Our brothers and sisters here are so sensitive to understand when there’s a need and to identify what’s really important in that moment. Sometimes what’s most important is to just listen, bring some encouragement, and go to the Lord in prayer. That’s an example of how keeping Jesus and His Word at the center plays out practically.
Part of discipleship is also exhorting one another—always bringing encouragement through our conversations, whether among staff, with members, or through the newsletter articles. Everything that we do is intended to point us towards Jesus and strengthen us as His followers.
Samaritan: Will, how do we keep Christ at the center of operations?
Will: We are a ministry. Everything else falls in line. I can give you models of management from Harvard Business School or MIT Sloan School of Management, and draw a line from those teachings and theories that build healthy, effective organizations back to one book of the Bible: Proverbs. Guaranteed. We can operate our entire organization from the principles of Proverbs. All those wonderful professors may not realize it, but the source of every good management principle comes from God’s Word!
It’s cliché, but when I begin to facilitate our Operating Council meetings, I’m going to ask the question: what would Jesus do in this particular problem? First Corinthians 1:30 says that Jesus is our Wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30), so we need to ask Him to show us how He is leading us with each challenge we face.
This ministry is not going to be built on sand. It’s going to be built on the only rock, on the solid foundation of Jesus.
Mark: We know that Jesus is everything. He said in John 15:5 that without Him we can do nothing. Without Him this ministry isn’t going to work. Prayer, the Word, devotionals, discipleship are just built into the DNA of everything that we do here at the ministry. And we don’t want that to change.
Anthony: How do we keep that central? That’s through surrender and submission and realizing that all of this is actually God’s work, and we are co-laborers with Him. He has called us into His wonderful mystery of working with Him, but it’s His work.
Mark: Anthony’s role is to help ensure that Jesus and the Word remain our firm foundation today, tomorrow, and forever; and Will’s role is to help us do a better job of building the ministry—making it stronger, more effective, and more efficient.
Will: This ministry is not going to be built on sand. It’s going to be built on the only rock, on the solid foundation of Jesus.
Anthony: It’s Psalm 127:1: "Unless the Lord builds the house, we’re building in vain." When it comes to our work at Samaritan, I think the best words we can possibly hear from Jesus are, “Well done, good and faithful servants!” We want to be obedient to do what He’s called us to do. We want to faithfully steward all that He’s entrusted to us. And we want Him to receive all the glory because He’s the One Who is worthy.
To glorify God by growing and equipping disciples of Jesus Christ to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love and care for their neighbor as themselves. (Matthew 28:18-20, 22:36-40; Mark 12:28-30)
To redeem health care by helping the Body of Christ love one another through sharing each other’s health care burdens, while experiencing authentic Biblical community. (Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10,12,13,15; John 13:34,35)