GCI Update

The Savior Complex

Photograph of Christ Statue

Dear GCI Family and friends,

Greg and Susan Williams

There are many people serving in ministry who are motivated by what may be called “good intentions.” What they may not realize is their good intentions may not fall in line with what Jesus exemplified for us in ministry. This can be the cause of much frustration in ministry.

We all realize people have inherent needs, and many go into ministry with the high aspiration of helping people in need. Some even go so far as entering ministry because they need to feel needed. Frustration occurs when you realize you aren’t enough – you can’t meet all the needs of all the people in your congregation, and you can’t have your own needs met. This is true whether you have 500 people to serve or 10 people. Don’t be discouraged, though—many in ministry face this at some point. Frustration can easily lead to burnout. If you are feeling this way, please talk to someone. You’ll realize you are not alone.

Part of the problem is that our good intentions can be founded on something other than Jesus. This happens when we believe – or are made to believe – that we should have all the answers, or that no one else can do the job as well as we do it. Statements such as, “You are the best pastor we’ve ever had and you have saved my life” or, “I don’t know what I’d do without you – don’t ever leave or stop being our ministry leader” can produce what is called the “Savior Complex” – the tendency to seek people who desperately need help and to assist them, often by sacrificing your own needs.

While this may sound noble, there are some real problems. First, the person being helped soon comes to expect the attention and help and does not take responsibility for their own circumstances. Second, the leader is taking on the role of savior that can only be filled by Jesus. As GCI pastors and elders, we don’t want members to view us as their rescuer; we are elders called to serve. We want them to always look to Jesus. We can listen, visit, encourage, teach, coach and pray with members, but we cannot do what Jesus does. He is the one who heals, redeems, forgives and saves.

Many of us have fallen into this way of thinking at some point in ministry. Don’t get discouraged or lose hope if the Holy Spirit is pricking your heart right now. Healthy church begins with healthy leadership, and our goal is to help all become the best expression of health we can be. To be healthy, we need to understand some of the pitfalls we face.

At the heart of the savior complex is the ugly human expression of pride. Pride is what causes us to stumble and fall (Proverbs 16:18). Pride, or arrogant eyes, is one of the seven things that God hates (Proverbs 6:16-19). Pride was the undoing of Lucifer, and it is a subject worthy of our attention.

Pride seeks out the chief seats and the attention of the important people. In the British comedy series “Keeping Up Appearances,” Mrs. Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bouquet) is constantly trying to gain social status and become part of the social elite. Unfortunately, she commits faux pas after faux pas and each episode revolves around her latest. The real tragedy is that her actions cause her to look past, or step on the weak and the less popular on her journey toward high society. We watch the show and laugh, while mindlessly getting drawn into the practice of being a respecter of persons. Pride wins the day.

The sickness of pride also causes us to dwell on the shortcomings of others – often with contempt, irritation, frustration, or judgment. When we do this, we are looking on them as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:16 “from a worldly point of view,” and not seeing them as other human travelers who are also under the shed blood of Jesus. This doesn’t mean we don’t acknowledge and work through challenges and misunderstandings with our brothers and sisters, but we do so with Jesus in the bigger picture.

Recognition and confession of pride is the beginning of the healing process. While it seems to be easy to see pride in others, pride within ourselves is not so readily identified. Pride is insidious; it is the fuel that fills our earnest need for attention and respect, and therefore it is hard to detect its stronghold in our lives. Pride has an insatiable hunger for attention and respect; it’s easy to be fooled and call this an internal drive. (I see it more frequently in myself than I want to admit)

One of the greatest pitfalls is that pride is the enemy of humility and teachability. We use the adjective “stubborn” to describe pride because it is hard to shake off.

In the October meetings with our GCI leaders we focused on how our roles are to be as “bond-servants”; not thinking of ourselves as executives or superiors. We don’t ever want to be filled with anything but humility and love for others. We often pray together for God’s intervention and blessing.

Even if this does not seem like a battle you are fighting, please swallow any pride and join me in setting this matter in its proper place – before the eternal throne of justice and mercy. Let’s confess and pray the words of David recorded in Psalm 139:23-24:

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me and lead me in the way everlasting!

May we be humble and teachable people in GCI as we continue our quest for Healthy Church!

Always praying for humility,

Greg Williams



New Pastor Orientation

February  7-10th, the GCI  Home Office hosted New Pastor Orientation for new pastors and leaders stepping into ministry positions. The weekend was spent unpacking the Team Based- Pastor Led Model. Participants were equipped, empowered, and encouraged to carry out the vision of Healthy Church in their congregations.

The group bonded throughout the weekend over worship, conversations about best practices, meals, and fellowship. God’s unifying presence was palpable during our joyous time together.  GCI President Greg Williams, reflected on the occasion, “I am greatly encouraged by the men and women who have been called into pastoral leadership. It was a privilege to share four days of learning. I am inspired by this fresh group of pastors. Our time together fills me with hope for GCI.”


Many participants expressed a sense of community and shared vision. “It is so encouraging to know that we are not alone and a network of support is available in our denomination.” The weekend wrapped up with each leader’s Regional Director commissioning and praying over them. Join us in lifting up our leaders as they transition into this new season of ministry.

Remembering the Life of John Novick

We were saddened to learn of the recent death of John Novick, former Lead Pastor of GCI’s congregation in Jackson, Mississippi.

John and Cathy Novick

Our dear friend and brother John Novick passed into glory February 20th. I ask you to join me in praying for his wife Cathy and daughter Briana and the Jackson church. John fought the good fight against bone cancer and finished well. He will be greatly missed by those who knew and loved him.

Cards for the Novick family can be sent to:

Cathy Novick
182 Commonwealth Ave
Brandon, MS 39047

Remembering the Life of Sue Lawson

Sue and Don Lawson
Sue and Don Lawson

Sue Lawson, devoted wife of long-time pastor Don Lawson, passed away last Tuesday morning. She died peacefully in her sleep after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. Don is doing OK considering and is glad Sue was not in pain and was not suffering when she passed. The Lawsons have been a beacon of light to every marriage. They loved each other deeply and openly. What a great example of what marriage was intended to be.

There will be a small Celebration of Life Service for immediate family members.

Cards can be sent to Don Lawson at
82383 Stradivari Road
Indio, CA 92201

ACCM Christian Leadership Course Offered at West USA Celebration

Click the image below to register online.
Venue: Portland Embassy Suites, Tigard, Oregon Dates and Times: Sunday, April 7 – Monday, April 8 Sunday: 2pm-5pm Monday: 9am-4pm Intensive Course: Christian Leadership $150 tuition plus $50 onsite (coffee breaks and lunch provided). Don’t let cost be an obstacle. Perhaps your congregation might consider sponsoring you. Registration: ambascol.org

LiLY Women’s Conference

LiLY logoThe Women of Edgehill Community Church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio would like to invite you to their 16th Annual LiLY (Living Life for You) Conference “Joy Intact,” held April 26th-28th, 2019 at the Embassy Suites in Beachwood, Ohio.

This is a weekend filled with wonderful worship, inspired speakers, lots of laughs and simply enjoying the presence of the Lord.  The conference is attended by a diverse group of women and teens (Bonfire Sessions for ages 13-17) from every stage on their journey. We come from different churches and denominations.  We are about meeting at the feet of Jesus and making him known.

We keep the registration prices low ($70 early bird special), meals are included and you can fill your suite with up to six women to cut the cost of the hotel.  This is a great opportunity for you, your family or group of friends to come together and share a weekend in Christ with no judgment or expectations.

Follow the link for more information. http://www.edgehillcc.org/lily

Tamar Gray, Assistant Pastor
Edgehill Community Church
Cleveland, Heights Ohio

Photo Contest – Submissions End March 17

Show us the world through your lens.

Photo Contest Promo Image

Do you attend a GCI church? Enter to win our 2018-2019 GCI Photo Contest and submit photos of your healthy church.
Prizes include, $100, $200, and $300 Amazon gift cards!
Submit Your Photos Before March 17.

For more information go to: https://resources.gci.org/photocontest

New England Women’s Retreat

New England Women's Retreat

The Providence congregation sponsored its annual women’s retreat, coordinated by Sue Cozzi. The theme this year was “Blessed Beyond Measure.” Peg Donovan spoke about “How can I count the ways” and Cara Garrity spoke about being “Blessed in the Valley.” Leslie Howard led a breakout session on “Finding peace in the midst of Chaos” while Peg led a Worship Theater that included skits and a talent show. After the talent show the ladies enjoyed an impromptu karaoke and dance session! The tentative theme for next year is “Streams of Living Waters.”

From Suzanne Cozzi (wife of pastor Luciano Cozzi), Providence, RI

Devotional – Let There Be

26  Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Genesis 1:26-28)

In the earlier verses of Genesis chapter one, God said, “Let there be…,” and it was. When we get to verse 26 the scene changes and now God said, “Let us make man in our image.” Now God leaves no doubt in our minds that the triune God is going to be involved in making man not just one of the persons. The verse states that God (the triune God) took the dust of the earth and formed the man. He could have said let there be man and there would have been man just like was done for the plants and animals; man would have been a living, breathing being. But, the word indicates that like a sculptor molds a statue, God molded a man. When he was done molding the man, the word says he breathed into him the breath of life and then man became a living soul. From this we learn that each human being, no matter how the egg was fertilized, is special. As it says in the Psalms, God shapes our inner parts in the womb. That is how special we are to God. He takes interest in the smallest details of our lives and is with us every moment of every day, breathing his breath of life into us.

Nathania McKinney

By Nathania Mckinney


Meet Kalengule Kaoma

Click on the image below to learn about GCI Africa Superintendent Kalengule Kaoma.

Kalengule Kaoma Profile

Prayer Guide – March 2019

Prayer Request for Al Barr

Prayers are requested for retired Pastor and District Superintendent Al Barr. Al has been hospitalized since last Thursday, February 28th. The doctors have diagnosed dehydration. He is on IV fluids and is improving noticeably. Your prayers for Al and his wife, Edna, are much appreciated.


Cards may be sent to:

Al & Edna Barr
752 Britt Road SW
Mableton, GA 30126