Process of Development w/ Greg Williams
Welcome to the GC Podcast. A podcast to help you develop into the healthiest ministry leader you can be by sharing practical ministry experience.
Cara: Hello friends, and welcome to this episode of GC Podcast. This podcast is devoted to exploring best ministry practices in the context of Grace Communion International churches.
I’m your host, Cara Garrity, and today I am blessed to have GCI President, Greg Williams, join us. Welcome, Greg.
Greg: Thank you, Cara. Great to be here.
Cara: I’m so glad to have you join us today. We’re going to be jumping into talking about a process of development. Now in the last episode, folks, we talked about, how do we define the 4 Es? Engage, equip, empower, encourage. If you haven’t checked that out yet, go check out that episode as a refresher before you dive into this.
But today we’re really going to be looking at that bigger picture. What happens when you put all those pieces together and really live it out as a process of development.
I’d love to just go on ahead and dive right on in. We always, when we think about our practices in ministry, we always come back to the who and the why. I’m wondering, can you tell us where do we see the embodiment of a process of development in the life of Jesus?
Greg: Cara, I think you see it almost throughout.
Even when he began his public ministry, and he had selected those that were going to be his disciples. I think of Andrew had met him, and Andrew went and told his brother, Peter, you need to come and see, you need to come and see.
And Jesus just invited them. It was a process of invitation and relationship: come and be with me. And then throughout, as he begins to work with them and to build that camaraderie with them. They get to see him doing miracles. They get to see him interacting, sometimes in some pretty hostile situations, Pharisees questioning him, situations where he’s put to the test.
But there are times too when Jesus says, no, we’re going to work through you. I think of the feeding of the 5,000. I wrote an article—it’ll be in Update next year, put in a little plug here—but just talking about that one episode of the feeding of the 5,000.
Again, he asked them on the front end, the crowd’s hungry. And one of the disciples says, we don’t have that kind of money. We just couldn’t afford to be able to feed this crowd. And then Peter looks around, says there’s this kid who has a basket with loaves and fishes. And so, this is something to start with.
And for Jesus, doesn’t matter how small, he can work with it. But the miracle that took place there happened in their hands as they distributed and even when they collected at the end. What’s amazing is they took up 12 baskets. How many disciples were there?
Cara: I think there’s 12.
Greg: I think so. So, they got a takeaway meal for themselves too. But Jesus was always good to include them, to get their input, to get their involvement. And they got to see how he operated with people. They got to learn to imitate the way he was, his being with other people.
And then, finally at the end, he says, I’m going away, and I will send the Spirit. But he felt confident. Now, were they fully prepared to jump into being apostles? I don’t know. But Christ felt like they were. And again, they were going to learn as they go too.
And that’s the beauty of how Jesus even trusts us too. Most of us, when we jump into ministry, we feel so underqualified. We feel so inexperienced and out of our depth, and yet in his faithfulness and through the power of the Spirit working in us, that’s to me the real magic of what happens in this process.
Cara: Yeah, that’s a really good word.
And so, we could even say that Jesus, he’s the perfect developer when we look at his earthly ministry and the way he really invested in the lives of the 12 and who they were becoming as they walked alongside him.
Greg: Yes, they were. And I think we have to look at this as not just some kind of a project. This is not something where it becomes mechanical. It really is discipleship all the way through and the reliance that we have on knowing that Jesus truly is the head of the church. The Holy Spirit is our faithful guide even throughout this process.
But then we get to be shoulder to shoulder with other human beings too, who are different from each other. Some are gifted in certain ways. Some have different personalities, different life experiences, but we all have that commonality that we really want to point people to Jesus. We really are about being citizens of the kingdom and pointing toward that reality of what Jesus proclaimed as what he’s about: the kingdom that will be coming in its fullness. We are already citizens of that kingdom. So, this process is all leading into that direction.
Cara: Yeah. That’s good.
And you talk about that process. Talk to us a little bit more about that term process, because there’s a lot of processes in the world. What kind of process are we talking about when we say a process of development?
Greg: Yes. I think that’s a great question because people who know me—and again I have the opportunity as the president of the church to travel around, and I get to meet, not just in the US but around the world. And they know that my voice, one of my primary voices is that of pioneer.
So, they think of me, let’s go forward, let’s push forward. And I do want to see progress for the church. I really do. I think Paul says that we want to press forward to the high mark of the calling we have in Christ Jesus. And some of the things in the past, we need to move on from some of the things in the past.
But a process to me—I was going to use the example of an old cassette tape recorder. I hope for our younger audience that you know what I’m talking about.
Cara: If not, they can Google it.
Greg: Yeah, Google that. You could go on YouTube and see what one looks like.
But like with a cassette tape, with it going forward, you’re putting it in play, and you can go forward. You can even fast forward. Sometimes you can, I don’t like this song, so I’ll jump forward to the next song, type of thing. But there’s also a time to pause. Sometimes we need to pause and reflect.
And there are times, it’s wow, I didn’t quite catch that. So, we rewind, we go back. And we go back to a place that we had already covered before, but we need to cover it again.
So, process involves all those stages. It’s not just always, fast forward or trying to move at a pace that’s too fast for the group. Because in a process, if the individual leader is out too far ahead, the old adage is, if you get too far ahead, you start to look like the enemy out there. You don’t look like the leader anymore.
So, we have to be careful. And to me, that rhythm process means there’s a rhythm of how we go about doing this. It’s in community with others, but it’s also really in a sense of seeing where the Spirit’s leading, what the Spirit’s doing. That’s why we have to hit that pause button and come back and say, okay, what have we seen the Spirit doing? What has happened and what does that mean for us and for going forward?
So even as we try to see what the Spirit’s doing and try to make plans, we always want to come down to the conclusion: it seems good to the Spirit and to us. We always want to use that as our filter for what we do.
Cara: Yeah, absolutely. And I love what you had said previously too, that it’s not like a mechanical kind of process. Because what you’ve just described, even with this visual of the cassette, it’s organic.
It’s dynamic. You need to be in discernment with the Spirit about in this moment, in this season. Do we pause? Do we fast forward a little bit? Do we rewind? And it’s not—I talk a little about a cut and paste, a copy and paste, or input/output. But it’s: what is God doing in this moment?
What does this process look like in this moment because of what he’s doing and how we’re participating?
Greg: Yes. A process requires community and relationship, doesn’t it? There’s a sense that we have to check in with each other. We have to share ideas with each other, observations with each other, and to hopefully draw conclusions together, again, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
And there’s times that we may not always get it quite right. We think we see something, and we go in that direction, and it doesn’t always work out the way we want. But God’s merciful. Those are learning opportunities.
I hope we don’t get caught into some of the metrics of the world, like this is a success and this is a failure. No, all the things we’re doing in ministry, they are learning opportunities. Some will be more fruitful than others.
I love what Paul says when he writes to the Corinthians, and he talks about the work that we’re involved in, and Paul calls himself a master builder. Paul was not an architect. Paul was not an engineer. He did make tents on the side to support himself financially. But he called himself a master builder because he was building on the right foundation, which is Jesus. And he was doing it with Jesus by the power of the Spirit.
But he says, when we build, we need to be careful about how we build and what are we building with. Is it precious metals and costly stones? Or is it wood, straw, hay, stubble, this kind of thing? And he says that some of the things we do, they’re going to get burned up.
And that’s okay in the greater scheme of things. But some of the things that we do in ministry, as we participate with him, some of the things are going to echo into eternity as well, which gets me excited to think about.
How do we best stay in tune with what the Spirit is doing and in tune with one another, so we are building with the precious metals in the costly stones? That we are participating in things that are going to last? That’s my prayer for GCI. That in our processes, that we have that kind of discernment through the power of the Holy Spirit, that we’re able to see those things that really are meaningful and that will make an eternal difference.
Cara: Amen. And that makes me think too, that I want to come back to, you had mentioned development alongside as discipleship. And I think that’s important because that’s really what we’re talking about when we talk about a process of development. It’s really entwined; it can’t be separated from discipleship.
Can you talk to us a little bit more about that? Because that’s part of the stuff that’s eternal.
Greg: It is. Again, that’s building as a master builder like Paul did. When Jesus said that to go and to make disciples and he would be with us always, he didn’t say, just go make converts. He didn’t say, just go and have people win arguments and try to help them understand the truth of who I am. The Holy Spirit does that conviction. Anyway, I don’t know about you, Cara, but I don’t know that I’ve ever fully persuaded or convicted anybody too much of anything.
But I do see how the Holy Spirit does that, and I love being able to participate in that process. But it is a process, like we were saying, and discipleship is a lifetime journey. It’s not a one-time decision. It’s not something [like] the “one and done,” and check that box; that’s over with. Discipleship is a lifelong journey.
I think of even the example of Jesus. As we record this, we’re in the season of Advent now. And we’re thinking about Jesus coming and the incarnation of him coming in the flesh. In Luke’s recording of the birth, he goes on and even to him being taken to the temple and the dedication and the things that happened. And it says that he grew in stature, in favor, both with God and man, I’m thinking, how amazing is that?
The second member of the Godhead, Jesus himself, in the flesh, was growing and learning and developing. So, if that’s true for Jesus, how much more is that true for us? So, this is really the foundation of when we’re talking about discipleship and development.
We are talking about growing in stature, in favor, both with God and with man. That’s exciting to think about.
Cara: Yeah. Absolutely. And I think about even how that is one of the powerful things about that idea of process or a journey of development—this idea that we don’t ever arrive. There’s always more of who we are in Christ, that who he’s called us to be, that we can grow into, that is more left to explore.
And having this idea of processes, oh, we didn’t just check that box and now we’re done. But we are lifelong learners. Lifelong disciples.
Greg: We are, and I think of the context. If we can see what we’re called to in our relationship with Christ, with our relationship within the community, the church, if we can see it as a great adventure. I think so often, a lot of times Christians will see this life of struggle. And yes, it does include struggle. We’re not going to sugarcoat that. It’s not that there aren’t struggles. We are in a fallen world. We’re going to face some pain and suffering. That comes with the human experience.
But what we’re called to—and again, I said earlier, the whole sense of seeing even out further than what we’re doing right now today. But what is the fullness of the reality to come, the fullness of the kingdom that we’re called to be a part of? We’re kingdom citizens right now. Do we live in that reality that that’s really who we are? We belong to Jesus.
And yes, we live in this world. You and I are citizens here of North Carolina. We have to follow the rules and the regulations and pay our taxes and all those things that come with it. But this is not my home. This is my temporary home. The reality of what I’m called to be a part of, that reality is “already, but not yet.” So, we live in that tension.
So again, this is what God has designed and created. It’s hard for our minds to fully grasp the “already, but not yet.” So, let’s stretch your minds a little bit.
But for the present, being here in the flesh, being in time and in space, it means we have another day to live and to grow. And that’s what development is. I hope that all of us think of our life as being lifelong learners. That we are, again, like I said, growing in that stature, in favor with God and with man. We’re not called to be static.
Cara: Yes. No, that’s excellent. And even what you’re saying, it shows us what the almost—not to use to metric kind of terms—but what is the target of our growth? What’s the aim of our growth too?
It’s not just, I need to do this task, or I need to have this kind of success to find in this … whatever kind of earthly way. But our aim of growth is something that is eternal. It is something of a kingdom that’s going to last forever. It is something in Christ who is life itself.
And he’s just everything. It’s not just, oh yeah, I just got to do this thing, let me develop for that. But I’m developing into the person that the Creator made me to be. That’s pretty special.
Greg: It is. It truly is. God has created and designed us all uniquely.
We have, like I say, different personalities, different capacities, different passions—this type of thing. But I would throw out a bit of a warning because we live in such an individualistic society. We don’t necessarily always see the value of being part of community and how that is.
I think we all want to come to the place that we know who we are in Christ. First of all, Christ is the one who gets our worship. It’s so easy for us to turn back around on ourselves and think, okay, it’s a good day when God’s will matches up to my will.
We have to really mean it when we pray, thy will be done. We really have to come to rest in that and to know that yeah, we are in his hands. I’ve always found it interesting when people pray, “We’ll put him in God’s hands,” like we’re not already there. But we’re already there. We live and breathe according to his will. So, we need to relax in that and to live into that, so that we don’t get too self-important.
But we also need to think about—part of our role in this whole process of ministry development, to think about the other. Who are they? Because a lot of times people don’t see themselves clearly.
They see themselves with labels that other people have put on them. A lot of times they’ve been beaten down. They haven’t had a lot of opportunity in their life, and some of their experiences have been negative experiences.
And so, they just don’t really quite see who they are, but to help them come alive to see who they are—that they are a child of God, that they are loved. There is a place at the table for them, but even to come into the reality that there are spiritual gifts—that God gives out these gifts. And the Holy Spirit is like the director of all of this, and some people have a gift of service, some of leadership, some of generosity.
There’s various gifts that people have. What Paul says in Romans 12, if you have a particular gift, then really lean into that. Go ahead and live that out. Be the person God created you to be. And our role in ministry, especially with pastors, those who are Avenue champions, we need to help people see what God’s doing in their life, but where they fit in the body and the life of the church too.
The process involves helping people find their best fit. And boy, isn’t that great? Wouldn’t it be amazing to see a congregation where it is a priesthood of all believers? And wouldn’t it be fantastic to see everybody fitting in a spot that really is living out who they are in Christ and serving out of that? I know that sounds idealistic, but why not? Why shouldn’t we be idealistic?
Cara: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And as you say that, I come back to this idea of when we think about development, really it’s God who is the author of where we’re developing to, what’s the direction of our development. Because even as you say that, we come back to the importance of discernment in community and the active role of the Spirit as we’re doing this.
Because who am I to say what part of the body I am? Just because I want to be the hand, doesn’t mean that I am. Just because I want somebody else to fill a certain role because maybe that’s what I need right now in the church, doesn’t mean that is how they’ve been fashioned, right? And we do need to, like you said, see people well, see people clearly as part of this process in community and in discernment and not act out of our own needs or our own desires.
But let God be the one that’s showing us: wait, what’s the direction of this development? What’s the direction of this discipleship in community?
Greg: So, ministry is not a contest, it’s not a competition. It really is fitting where you fit, and part of that even does come back to a person’s passions too.
We have to be careful. It’s a tricky thing because it’s in community that gifts are confirmed. People will think that they want to be this, or they’ll have an aspiration. And some people may be good at a certain ministry skill or practice. They may be good at that, but it may not be life-giving to them. And it may be that that’s just not where they fit.
I’ve often thought in our church, when I was pastoring, because I was working primarily with volunteers, occasionally I would have an intern who might be paid who I could work with a lot more directly and be more intentional with, especially with their time because they were paid in that role.
But volunteers, you have to be careful. You don’t want to over overtax them, overwork them. But there are those volunteers who are eager, they’re going to say yes to a lot of things. And that’s not bad. But sometimes we have to help them see, they may have an aspiration for a certain aspect of ministry.
I’ll use myself as an example. I love music. I love praise worship. I love to sing with other believers. But I love to be in a bigger crowd because I don’t sing so well. I don’t know that I’m tone deaf, but I know that I’m not going to do a solo in church. Okay?
That’s for the love of everybody who’s in the audience listening. Okay. I know that’s not my gift. It doesn’t mean it’s not my passion, because music is really a passion for me. But I have to understand that I’m really more of a music appreciator than I am someone who has that ability. Maybe in my glorified body I’ll—maybe God will do something to my vocal cords and my ability to hear the tones that maybe that will be healed as well.
I hope so. But even with the host of angels, I can sing to the top of my lungs because their voices will drown mine out. But I think we all have to be careful with that. And that’s why in community we care for one another in that way.
So, this process that we’re talking about, as we’re interacting, we can help people to see, that that’s great that you have a desire for that, but let’s think about where you really bring the best of who you are. And how’s that going to work together as a body of believers.
There’s some people who want to be greeters at church. I’m often thinking of that role, and a greeter is really there to have a smiling face, a welcoming face, but to help people move along. There’s the information table. The coffee’s over here. You might want to get seats in the sanctuary, we fill up. This kind of thing. The greeters who just were to stop and have a conversation with everybody, they’re not really doing their job well. They need to be behind the coffee table. They need to be sprinkled in other places, but you see what I’m saying? Sometimes people have this notion that this is a good fit for me. Let’s be humble enough to let the confirmation from the body help us to see where we fit.
Cara: That’s right. And even as we’re talking, I hope one of the things that’s coming to life or becoming more apparent is that a process of development is very nuanced. It is very dynamic. It is not mechanical at all.
It’s very relational, very much a part of the journey of discipleship and done in discernment, in community. And one of the things that we’ve done in GCI is we’ve put together the 4 Es—engage, equip, empower, encourage—as maybe a guiding framework as a process of development.
But it is definitely not, “Here’s 1, 2, 3, 4,” as our listeners should hopefully hear in the conversation we’re having. But part of the Spirit of that is that we’re encouraging ourselves to be intentional with our processes of development.
Greg: I’m glad you said that.
The word intentional. See, sometimes people get this notion because we are a spiritual organism—the church is a community of faith. We know that. But sometimes people, I think they don’t go deep enough, that somehow that means things are just going to happen. And that it’s going to be organic, that that all sounds good to us.
Now, there’s a certain sense that, does God make plans? What do you think?
Cara: Even organic things need to get planted, right?
Greg: They do. We could talk about this all day. But I think back, even in Genesis, it talked about how the Spirit was hovering. There was this time of just thoughtful consideration. And what was going to happen with the creation story and this type of thing. And things don’t just poof, magically appear. And relationships are not that way either. We have to be intentional about that.
We talked about the relational side of the 4 Es but being relational also does mean being intentional too. We have to make ourselves available, and I think, at least my experience speaks to this—I believe that the God has gifted me to see talents and abilities in other people.
I feel like God’s given me that ability to invite people in. You can call that sponsor, mentorship, or something like that, if you want to put a label to it, but to invite people in. And even Jesus when he said, send them, sending them out two by two, he knew there was a dynamic there.
They’re stronger together. But there’s also this learning that takes place because two people are not just alike. Two people are going to be a little bit different and a big part of sending them out when he did in that original sending, was partly because witness, each of them had their own story of how they knew Jesus, of how Jesus had transformed them and their life.
And there’s nuance in that too, isn’t there? So, the witness of two people is stronger than the witness of one person. So, the testifying of how they knew Jesus, it actually was stronger going out two by two.
But there’s something about sharing in that process of going two by two as well. That’s why oftentimes when we’re talking about the 4 Es and how we do this, don’t do ministry alone. Include someone else. And especially if it’s someone who’s new and eager and showing some potential, help them with that.
But don’t treat them as in a way like, they’re here to do my bidding for me. Don’t look at them in the sense of like, okay, here’s a need and I’m going to fill this need with this person. Be loving and careful enough to understand that they may need exposure to some ministry opportunities to find out really what they are good at and some exposure to find what they truly are passionate about too.
They may go through some experience with you and it’s, eh, that’s just not for me. That’s just not my thing, and that’s okay. That’s part of the learning, but you see the intentionality in that too.
Those of us who’ve been around a while, that we have the ability to invite others in and to bring them along. It requires that we actually be intentional. We’ve got our eyes open. We’re seeing these people. We’re open to the invitation and come and let’s do this together and experience this together.
Just like Jesus said, come and be with me. Come and watch me. Come and participate with me. Now you go and do these things. It just works so well when you do it relationally.
Cara: No, absolutely. That intentionality in the relationship. I think bears a lot of fruit and the way that I think about the 4 Es is maybe even less of a checklist and more of a check in.
It is check in on your intentionality.
Greg: It is, but there’s a flow to it as well. We’re not just going to take that newest person that we really don’t know much about. They may just be a new believer, and they’re learning just how to establish their walk with Christ.
Paul talks about that a lot in his writings. There’s a time when you only need the milk of the word. You’re not ready for the meat yet. They’re still growing in their understanding.
And I’m not waiting for someone to be a Christian for 10 years before they participate either. You can be extreme in this, but we don’t just all of a sudden empower somebody that we don’t know, that we’ve not built some relationship with, some confidence with.
But over time, if we really go through the 4 Es, the beginning of the engagement and—even in the engagement doesn’t mean that they can’t participate on certain levels. They can still do some things. They can come and help and be a part of the life of the church. There’s no reason that they can’t do that. But you’re not going to have them up giving a sermon their second week, at a church service. That’s not what we’re going to do.
I think, again, the word discernment comes into play. We’re being intentional, but we’re also being discerning. I don’t mind giving people to do something that they’re going to feel that the task is bigger than them. That’s okay to give them a challenge. But have we done some preparation that they don’t even realize that they’re as prepared as they are?
When you put people in that opportunity, that there’s already been some preparation done. Even when Jesus said he sent them out and then when they came back with the reports, they came back with mixed messages. There were times they were received well. There were times when we met with opposition, and it didn’t go so well. And Jesus says, that’s okay.
And that’s true in this process today in ministry as well, with the ones that we’re working with. Let’s make time to review.
That’s part of being intentional again, isn’t it? It’s back to the cassette tape. Let’s hit the pause button. Let’s take the time to process what happened. What did you experience? Where did you meet Jesus? And what are our next steps? Where do we go from here?
So, there’s that continual processing that goes on. So, when you say, “process of development,” the word process has a whole package of meaning, doesn’t it?
Cara: It sure does. And even what you’re saying, I think, that that’s what I mean, even as a check-in is an intentionality check-in for myself as somebody who may be developing, as an example. Am I being intentional in my development or am I being haphazard? Am I letting somebody who has been here for two weeks give the sermon? If I check back in, do an intentionality check-in, oh, maybe I didn’t engage them very well yet.
And so, it’s less checklist-y of, oh, am I just doing this? But it’s a tool for reflection of: are we thoroughly, intentionally going through this process?
Greg: It is. When we say process, all the 4 Es—so engaged. Back to Jesus and working with the disciples, it’s one thing to have them set the group of 5,000 into seating arrangements and then to pass the basket of food and to take up the basket of food. That’s more task oriented. It’s a little bit different of standing up on the day of Pentecost and giving a message of what they’ve been experiencing with the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Those have different levels, don’t they?
And so, there’s a certain sense in the engagement process that we are putting our toe in the wading pool, so to speak, but we’re not asking people to do a back flip off the high dive into the deep end into the pool, and they don’t know how to swim. We’re not going to do that. So, the 4 Es keep us accountable in that way.
So, we go from engagement to where there’s just the relationship-building, the introduction. And then going to the equipping stage is a little more involved because in the equipping, we see that to where there’s going to be true mentoring happening. Come and follow me as I follow Christ. The imitation we’re talking about.
There’s also going to be a little more of a push toward the growth in their development. In terms of even being students of the Bible, learning how to be more engaged in spiritual disciplines and just learning the depth of walking with Christ. It takes time. That doesn’t happen overnight.
And we go through that process and that’s a big part of the equipping. And we get to the place too, where we see that, boy, the Lord’s really working in this person’s life. And now we start giving them meaningful things to do. We start empowering them. And in that empowerment stage, it doesn’t mean that now we just exit the building.
They still need—I know, I even, at my stage, I still need people who have eyes on that see what I’m doing. I still need a sense of accountability. I also need to know what I’m doing is meaningful, that it’s making a difference. So not just accountability, but even approval.
We need that. We all need that. And to know that they’re attentive, that they’re approving, that bleeds over to the encouragement stage, doesn’t it? The encouragement stage is not always just pats on the back and you’re doing a great job. That’s a big part of it, but it’s also bringing some challenging questions too.
Like, “I see you’re doing this, you’re engaged here. You’re not so engaged there. Explain to me what’s happening,” to create some of the challenge too. Our mantra in GCI … you know what it is. Tell me what it is.
Cara: Oh, high support. High challenge. Grace always.
Greg: Amen and it works. I mean that applies in all these situations.
So, at all stages of all the 4 Es, the high support, the high challenge, and doing it in grace, it works. And again, why does it work? Because it’s the way of Jesus. That’s why it works. It’s the way of Jesus.
Cara: Yeah. And speaking of it working, back to the intentionality in relationships being fruitful, what are some of the things that you expect we’ll start to see as we really live out these processes and the life of the local church?
Greg: We talk about a culture of liberation. There’s a freedom when people are really able to thrive in who they are in Christ and to do that in community. There is a sense of freedom that really points back to who Jesus is. We really become true ambassadors for him because we really are. It’s his light being reflected through us, is what it is.
And I just see that transforming our church. Our vision has been healthy church. This is a big part of what we’re talking about with Healthy Church. This becomes a culture too. This is not just a programmatic piece, and we’re going to try this for a couple years and see where it goes.
Now we’re talking about transformational things here. We’re talking about participation with Jesus through the Spirit is what we’re talking about. If that’s really happening and we see that in the life of the church, this is where it’s going to lead us to. It will lead to a priesthood of all believers.
It will lead to the sense and care for others that we want them to find their best fit. It will be to me, like I say, liberating, because now even as a pastor, you’re not pastor centric. You’re not trying to carry the weight of everything. You become that liberator.
Hopefully, as this gets built out over time, you really become the cheerleader for your church. You’re the great encourager. If all the Es are being done—not just by the Pastor, Avenue champions, the other ministry leaders—if they’re all following these same processes and that’s happening at multiple levels, the pastor can be the preacher of the gospel and the encourager of the group.
Man alive, if I could—I’m feeling a call to pastoral ministry again, Cara.
Cara: No, I’m sure.
Greg: No, like I say I don’t want to make it sound like it’s an easy 1, 2, 3. It’s not. It’s not at all because real life happens. People move because of jobs, people die. All those things come in, so the attention to the health of the church is a constant thing that we have to continue to keep our eyes on and stay focused.
Cara: What encouragements, Greg, would you have for those of us who are beginning to live out intentionally this process of development, to embody this rhythm of the 4 Es in the local church?
Greg: Just keep it up. Stay the course. We often think back to, I believe it was Eugene Peterson said it’s a long journey in the same direction. But again, I see it as the great adventure too. Like I say, every day is a new opportunity and so let’s utilize the time that we have and let’s be intentional at the same time, realize it’s not all on our shoulders.
Realize that we really do look to Jesus as the head of the church. We really do look for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit and that discernment, and I just think if we can learn to really, truly put our hope and faith in Christ, but at the same time we show up and participate. I don’t think we can go wrong with that, Cara.
And I think as long as we just, again, the Bible says don’t grow weary in well doing. So, I’m just saying even though there will be challenges and we know there will be. That’s okay. That’s okay. Sometimes it’s those challenges that shape us the most. And it’s sometimes in those challenges, that we meet Jesus even more personally than when things are going well, and things are going smoothly.
So again, we are where we are. God knows where we are. He’s not surprised. He’s not even disappointed. Sometimes we become disappointed. Or we become disillusioned, and we get into a negative space.
You see examples throughout scripture like that. I know Elijah, he had this great—remember the story with the 500 prophets of Baal and this great day of ridding Israel of all these false prophets. And then, his life is threatened by the queen, and he goes and hides in a cave. And he just has a pity party for himself. We can be like Elijah too.
We can go up and down in that way, but then God meets us with a small still voice and God brings relief to us when we need that too. So, he’s a God that does leads us to the valley the shadow of death, but also leads us in the green pastures in the still waters too. He’s such a good God.
Cara: He sure is. He sure is. Yes. And, as we close up our time today in this episode, what final words or thoughts would you share that maybe we haven’t covered yet in terms of a process of development?
Greg: Cara, I think we’re in a good space right now. This past year I’ve traveled to just almost all the regions around the globe in GCI.
I’ve got to meet with leaders from different cultures, from different nations in Africa, to the UK to Canada, to France, in so many places. Beautiful group of people in Fiji I got to visit with. And I’m seeing we really are speaking the same thing. There’s a unity that we’re experiencing right now that we can’t create by our own means.
It really is a spiritual thing. The Holy Spirit really is helping us to stay on the same page, to go in the same direction. It always has to be contextualized based on our culture. It also has to fit what the personality of the group is, and those things have to be nuanced as well.
This is again, not a program. We’re not checking boxes, but we do have a framework. Like you said, you said that well, we have a framework. The Team Based—Pastor Led framework, the Faith, Hope, and Love Avenues to help us to see who Jesus is, how we participate with him in his ministry, because it is his ministry.
So those things have been lining up so well, and I am just thrilled as the president of GCI, I couldn’t ask for more in that way. But I feel like we’re just getting started too.
One of my good friends, pastor Gabriel Ojih, who’s down in the Dallas area, Richardson, Texas, he told me he was here at the [Home] Office not long ago, and he says, Greg, I think the Lord’s really building our capacity right now and preparing us for what he has for us really to do.
And I thought that was a good word. I really resonated with me. I’ve dwelt on that quite a bit and this is what we’re talking about, this process of development is really about building capacity, if we really do transform into a priesthood of all believers, that we’re all actively engaging in the ministry of Jesus. Because I think one of the greatest problems in the Christian world, Cara, is that too many Christians act like consumers, not participants. And there’s a big difference in that.
So, you can use that as a topic for another podcast on another day. But I really believe that’s if we truly are engaging and participating with the living head of the church, with Jesus Christ, there’s nothing better to do. We can’t go wrong with that.
Cara: Amen. That’s a great word to end on. Thank you so much, Greg, for joining us today.
But before I let you go, we do have our little fun segment. So, I’m going to ask you a couple of random questions.
Greg: Uh, oh, this is rapid fire too, isn’t it?
Cara: Yes, it sure is. So, first thing that comes to mind, you just got to shout it out.
So, if you’re ready, I’m ready.
Greg: I guess I’m as ready as I will be.
Cara: All right. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Greg: Holiday tradition. I love the white elephant exchange at Christmas.
Cara: Ah, yes, that’s a good one. What sport would you compete in if you were in the Olympics?
Greg: I would strive to be a decathlete because I like all those different things.
I was a disco thrower. I was actually a pretty good runner in the day. I don’t know, with the pole vault and the high jump, I’d have to work on those but otherwise, I think I’d do okay.
Cara: Yeah. That’s good. That’s good. Okay. If you had your own late night talk show, who would you invite as your first guest?
Greg: Oh, my goodness. My first guest. I probably would have David Letterman come so that I could learn from him even as I interviewed him.
Cara: Yeah. You got to learn the trade.
Greg: That’s right. Bring in an old pro.
Cara: Almost like you’re getting developed.
Oh. What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Greg: The best piece of advice I’ve been given? Oh me. Follow Jesus, and point others to Jesus. That’s it. Because anything else is less than.
Cara: Amen. And then finally, what is your favorite hobby?
Greg: I would have to say golf. I don’t get to do it as often as I would like, and I’m not as proficient as I would like to be either. But the beauty of golf is, it’s you against the course, not so much you against the other competitors. And every once in a while, you’ll hit a shot that’s just amazing.
I was talking about our good friends in Fiji. The last shot I hit—we played nine holes over there. I love the idea of playing on international courses. And I was using rental clubs too, so it makes it even a little more interesting. But I hit a shot from across the water about 85 yards from the hole that hit up on the green and rolled, and then went into the hole. Yeah, I was pretty excited. I threw the club pretty high in the air and did my little happy dance.
But no, I really enjoyed that because if you play golf, you have to concentrate and leave everything else behind and really devote yourself to the game.
Cara: So, it’s a meditative hobby in that sense.
Greg: It is. Yeah. I was told, and you were talking about advice that you were given, I was told many years ago, and this is true, I think it’s good advice for pastors and ministry, find something you enjoy doing that you lose track of time.
And I think that’s really helpful because we are so engaged, and we can be workaholics and we can get to the place that we burn ourselves out but find something where you lose track of time. And I thought that was really good advice.
Cara: Yeah, that is good advice. All right. We really appreciate you joining us today, Greg.
Thank you so much for all the insights that you’ve shared. And it is our practice with GC Podcast to end the show on a word of prayer. So, would you be up for praying for our churches and pastors, ministry leaders and members in GCI?
Greg: Absolutely. And it’s my pleasure to be here today too, Cara. I always enjoy conversations with you, so let me pray for us.
Father, our Almighty God, Jesus, you are the head of the church. Holy Spirit, you are at work not only unifying us, but energizing us, leading us into truth, giving us ministry ideas. You’re the one who transforms the people around us and you let us participate. What a marvelous thing that we’re able to do, that we’re called into the participation with Father, Son, and Spirit to the ministry of humanity. Thank you so much for inviting us, for engaging us, for also equipping and empowering and encouraging us all the way through, because that comes from you, God. So, help us to be better at those things too. Help us to be better at engaging.
Help us to be better at equipping, empowering, encouraging those new ones who come along and those younger ones who come along. Help us, Lord, to just be a transformed church that really when people see us and participate with us, they’ll say, those folks have been with Jesus. That’s what we want to hear more than anything else.
So, bless our churches, bless our pastors. We thank you that we are a global church in 69 countries across this globe. What an amazing thing and what a gift that is for us in GCI. So once again, Lord, we just say thank you. Thank you for loving us, including us. Thank you for never leaving us and never forsaking us.
And thank you for calling us to this great adventure that we’re a part of in relationship with you. We pray in the awesome name of Jesus, and we do it with enthusiasm and love from our side. Amen.
Cara: Amen. That’s all we’ve got for today, folks. Until next time, keep on living and sharing the gospel.
We want to thank you for listening to this episode of the GC Podcast. We hope you have found value in it to become a healthier leader. We would love to hear from you. If you have a suggestion on a topic, or if there is someone who you think we should interview, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, Healthy Churches start with healthy leaders; invest in yourself and your leaders.