One dozen at a time, in a small kitchen on Lincoln Avenue in Springfield, Lisa Burris baked ... and baked … and baked more than 10,000 dozen cookies in 2009. The cookies are the center of a ministry Burris calls “the batch.” Since May 2008, she has raised more than $67,300 for various charities.
One dozen at a time, in a small kitchen on Lincoln Avenue in Springfield, Lisa Burris baked ... and baked … and baked more than 10,000 dozen cookies in 2009.
Chocolate chip, peanut butter, peanut butter chocolate chip and M&M — Burris uses the classic Nestle Toll House recipe. But she says that with her cookies, “Jesus is the added ingredient.”
The cookies are the center of a ministry Burris calls “the batch.” Since May 2008, she has raised more than $67,300 for various charities.
Burris says 100 percent of the proceeds for the cookies are given to charities that have a mission of spreading the love of Jesus.
Most of the cookies sell for $6 a dozen. The cost of ingredients and other expenses are donated by supportive friends or by the Burris family.
Burris says “the batch” is not a nonprofit organization, and she doesn’t have a business license. “The batch” is like a bake sale at church — all the income is given directly to a faith-based organization.
“It’s a ministry, but I treat it like my job,” Burris says. “It’s a way to be grateful for my life. It’s how I spend my days. I can live a purposeful and intentional life through ‘the batch’ ministry.”
Burris is a 47-year-old homemaker who says she is task-oriented and not likely to sit around.
In November and December, she baked cookies for 14 to 16 hours a day. That raised $11,200 for Contact Ministries, which has an emergency homeless shelter for women and children and provides food, clothing and other essentials to people in need in Springfield.
Bill Kienzle, executive director of Contact Ministries, says the money was used to renovate a bathroom that was not functional. Water had been leaking from the second-floor shower through the ceiling to the first floor.
“It (the money) was so very needed and greatly appreciated,” Kienzle says.
Burris says she chose Contact Ministries because she heard the shelter needed help. When Burris heard about the poor condition of two bathrooms, she dedicated the November and December proceeds for one bathroom, and contacted Curt Trampe of Dream Maker Bath & Kitchen to help with the second bathroom. Trampe donated supplies and labor to renovate the other bathroom.
“It’s an incredible testimony to Lisa’s faith, responding to needs both in our community and around the world,” Kienzle says.
‘This was stirring in me’
For years, Burris says she enjoyed making cookies to give away to friends and family. “It’s always been my way of loving on people,” she says.
The ministry evolved. “These cookies have been prayed over,” Burris says.
She recalls one pivotal moment of prayer with friends Jeff and Tricia Nelsen. Jeff recalls that they went to the Burris home to share a meal of chicken chili.
“Lisa is a killer cook,” Nelsen says.
Burris served the cookies for dessert, and they began discussing how to include the cookies in a ministry. And so, they prayed.
“Jeff prays about everything,” says Burris, who attends Westside Christian Church in Springfield.
As the senior pastor at Cherry Hills Baptist Church, Jeff Nelsen encourages people to become disciples like Jesus. He teaches a class called Network that shows people how to discover their spiritual gifts — ways that people are naturally talented. Spiritual gifts allow people to “glorify God and edify others” in unique ways of ministry, he says.
Burris’ spiritual gift of hospitality has taken on a new meaning with the cookies that she has enjoyed baking for years.
The prayers “validated what had already been in her heart,” Nelsen says. “We asked God to show her what she should do.”
Burris adds: “I knew this was stirring in me. I was already doing it. I just needed to put a price on it and give the money away. I just needed to become intentional about it.”
A little for everyone
A few months after Burris prayed with the Nelsens, the cookies began rolling out and the money began to flow in. Burris now makes monthly donations to charities.
Burris says $7,672 that she raised from July through October was given to the Inner City Mission to help pay off their mortgage. Other donations include:
She says her goal for January is to raise $2,000 for the St. John’s Hospital Parent Helpline. In February, the donations will go to the Living Hope Counseling Center. In March, the proceeds will be given to MERCY Communities.
The Burris family has been committed to missions in Springfield and internationally for years, Nelsen says. Nelsen met Burris’s husband, Rob, while serving on the board for Mustard Seed Ministries, which provides a free clinic and training center in the Philippines. Rob Burris, who is a dentist, has volunteered at that clinic and has organized 15 mission trips to Jamaica to provide dental care.
Lisa Burris says her husband is her hero and “the batch” has become a family operation. Her husband and two daughters Grace, 18, and Jane, 14, who attend Springfield High School, often help.
For several years, Burris also ran a ministry called The Bundle, for which she washed and ironed men’s dress shirts. Recently, she decided to stop ironing and concentrate on baking.
Somehow, Burris says she never tires of making cookies.
“God,” she says, “has blessed this ministry beyond belief.”
The batchContact: 793-3473, firstname.lastname@example.org Prices: $6 per dozen for chocolate chip, peanut butter, peanut butter chocolate chip cookies; $8 per dozen for M&M cookies. Additional charge for shipping.