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7 Questions with Greg Williams
helps you in your leadership.
7 Questions with Greg Williams
Name: Greg Williams
Current title: President
Current organisation: Grace Communion International
I am a native North Carolinean who has served in GCI in several capacities. In April 2018 GCI Home Office left sunny CA and moved operations to Charlotte NC. My wife Susan and I welcomed this move as it has placed us closer to our adult children and four grandchildren.
Greg has pastored, worked in development and administration and as current President is leading GCI toward their vision of "Healthy Church."
1. What have you found most challenging as a church leader?
If you are a carpenter you build houses and you typically see the project through to completion. In ministry you work with people and they are not projects with a start and finish.
For me, being a pioneer-type leader, it has taken decades to embrace the process of working with and through people. And then to find satisfaction in seeing incremental growth and celebrate these small victories.
2. How did you become a church leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I first learned leadership through sports and service clubs in high school. It was amazing to see that people actually embraced my ideas and backed me up.
My first job was school teacher and coach. I had always thought this would be my path, and then the opportunity for pastoral ministry came my way. In pastoring I found that leadership was mostly about influence and that influence was most impactful when trusting, loving relationships were established. Loving people and experiencing life in community seemed very much like how Jesus walked the earth with his disciples.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I travel quite a lot (more so before COVID) and so my days are quite different depending on time zone and continent. GCI is a small denomination and yet we are wide (800 churches in 66 countries).
My daily goal is to not just jump into work with the emails that flew in overnight. I typically rely on the first cup of coffee to ease into the day. My goal is to greet the magnificent Triune God with "good morning and thanksgiving for a good night's rest." Then, strange as it sounds, in the flow of the warm shower over my head and back it seems that oftentimes the Holy Spirit brings to mind the priorities for that day. It is my life quest to start each day with seeking His will over my own.
4. What's one book apart from the Bible that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Ephesians speaks so loudly to me and my understanding of God and church. I am the adopted child of God and my standing in him is secure because of Jesus. I am saved by grace alone and yet created to do good works (through him, by and for him). The church offices are established for the primary purpose of equipping the saints so that they too can join Jesus in his ongoing ministry to humanity. And as a united church community we are all moving closer to Jesus and becoming more like him.
5. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Transitioning old and new leaders. It has fallen my lot to help some of our aging church leaders toward retirement, and not that they have to completely step away, but rather step down to lesser roles so that others can increase. I find that it is a relational process that typically takes about two years time to do well.
I also am discovering the art of helping create opportunities and development plans for younger leaders so that they can step into greater roles of responsibility. With the younger ones it seems that it is a high priority that what they commit to is life-giving to them. I get the need for job satisfaction, and I also have learned to have them sort through their job descriptions to determine what is good for the overall organization. It is a two lane road.
6. How do you develop a healthy leadership pipeline in a church?
We have an entire system of ministry that we call Team-Based, Pastor-Led. It sorts ministry into the categories of Faith, Hope and Love and we see each of these avenues reflecting who Jesus is and containing the full orbed ministries of the church. The three avenues are attended to by Avenue Champions and their teams of people. The Pastor led part is having a pastor who knows how to engage people with the Gospel, then to provide multiple ways that these new ones can be equipped (mentoring being primary), then how to empower and release them into the flow of ministry and the final piece is to encourage them along the way as ministry is challenging. The structure and clear descriptions at all levels provides space for all believers and hence the pipeline is established.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a church leader so far?
When I first visited our church leaders in France I was set with my powerpoint presentation and ready to cast vision (this is what pioneers do). As the meeting was starting the Board Chair, in her lovely French accent said, Joe we knew (past President), but Greg we do not yet know you.``
The Holy Spirit quieted my spirit and as I set aside the powerpoint and agenda we begin a conversation of give and take. By the time our long weekend together had come to an end the friendship with the French leaders was on its way.