The New GCI Pastor DNA

Greg and Susan Williams
Greg and Susan Williams

Dear GCI Family and Friends,

For 2020 I asked our GCI leaders to consider the word “focus” as our word for the year. To achieve a perfect focus of 20/20 sight, there must be clarity. Anyone who has ever undergone an eye exam was given a series of lenses to peer through and asked, “Which one is most clear?” until you achieve clear vision.

The clarity for GCI starts with me as the President having a well-defined job description – a clear lens of what my job is. (Thanks to the GCI Board of Directors, I have such a lens.) Once clarity for my job was established, it is on me to fashion priorities and goals around the activities that I have been asked to accomplish on behalf of the denomination. One of those priorities is to create a job description for the leaders who serve at the management level of the church. This applies, in turn, to our church pastors.

Our pastors are the frontline managers for our church. These men and women are the backbones of our organization. As go our pastors, so goes our church. This is not meant to imply a sense of heaviness or pressure, just simply stating the reality.

The old DNA for pastoring in our church was:

  • An able teacher who could support and articulate our church doctrines
  • A counselor to the members on all of life’s issues
  • An available leader who regularly visited members in their homes

As we are now 20 years into the 21st century the job description for pastors has changed significantly.

In accordance with what we see in Ephesians 4, we desire that pastors look to the leadership of the ascended Christ in not only using their gifts, but in helping members use their God-given gifts. Pastors and ministry leaders are called “to equip the saints for the work of ministry,” so that the church is built up. Equipping is done through the training and empowering of believers.

We desire a dynamic movement of ministry within our churches where people come alive in Christ, grow up into his maturity, and walk in step as they share in Christ’s ministry (verses 13-16).

We are asking our pastors to be theologically educated in GCI’s Incarnational Trinitarian theology and to express their abiding relationship with Father, Son and Spirit in how they relate to others and how they teach the gospel message.

We are asking our pastors to be intimately familiar with the Love, Hope and Faith avenues of ministry, and to prayerfully appoint leaders and teams of people for the ongoing attention and execution of these foundational ministries. Pastors must first be Team-Builders, then Leaders of Leaders, as well as Constant Custodian over the foundational ministries.

It takes a lot of effort to be a healthy church, yet isn’t that our goal? Every pastor wants his or her local congregation to be the healthiest expression of church it can be. This requires focus and clarity. A pastor’s congregation is his or her local focus of operation. To provide clarity, allow me to share—in a condensed fashion—how we are asking pastors to see their role as described in the flow of Engaging, Equipping, Empowering and Encouraging.

Engagement means being among people in the congregation and community to discern individuals who can possibly grow into ministry leaders, then intentionally engaging and recruiting potential leaders by giving them opportunities to stretch their capacity and helping them become better known.

Equipping God’s people for works of service begins in the awareness of who God is, and then who the individual is in relationship to God. How has God shaped them through their personality, life experiences, talents, and spiritual gifting? What is God calling them to in correspondence to building up the church? The pastor must rely on the help and resources from the Faith Avenue leader and team members to thoroughly work through this process. Equipping then means matching individuals to appropriate educational opportunities, and relationally connecting them with able ministry leaders who will make space for the new believer to be apprenticed—knowing that information without imitation falls short, mentoring counts.

Empowerment is a function of trust and resourcing. A pastor will give meaningful opportunities for leaders under him or her and allow liberty for the person to succeed or fail; celebrating the successes and patiently working through the failures. The pastor will work collaboratively with the team leaders to wisely determine their needs, and will follow through with provision of finances, tools and related resources.

The constant Encouragement will come to the broader congregation with the week-in-week-out preaching that is in correspondence to the Christian calendar, and in harmony with the Hope Avenue leader and team. The more specific role of encourager applies to the oversight of the core ministry team leaders, as the pastor facilitates vision-casting and alignment, relational management, and strategic review and careful planning. The pastor is the greatest cheerleader for the ministries of the church, showing support by participation and ongoing communication.

The passage in Ephesians implies growth in spiritual maturity and the winning of new disciples to the church. The pastor will rely on the Love Avenue leader and team to make sure that healthy rhythms of neighborhood engagement and relational connections are happening in the target community. A vigilant pastor will be attentive to numeric and spiritual growth and proactively lead the congregation to receive the growth provided by the Lord.

The new DNA of the four “E’s” – Engagement, Equipping, Empowering, and Encouraging – will be the catalyst for how pastors lead and serve their congregations. This continued transformation is a part of the spiritual renewal of our fellowship that has been going on for more than a quarter of a century.

Thank you, Holy Spirit. We will have some more please!

Greg Williams

P.S. The Regional Directors will be helping pastors have more clarity about their role and how to most effectively shepherd our precious congregations.

8 thoughts on “The New GCI Pastor DNA”

  1. When one considers the complexity of engaging people, it can be devastating to engage without purpose or with the wrong purpose in mind. Praise God for this clarity of direction. Along with other insightful educational tools like the 5 voices, this new DNA for pastors and the clearly defined aspects of how to conduct ministry is very encouraging because it is replicatible towards other ministries and those who lead them in the local context.

  2. Thank you Holy Spirit. Just last night 16 Pastors from the Northeast Region and I were asking some of these very questions. I didn’t know that today would bring this update but the Holy Spirit did. Thank you Father for confirmation that we as Pastors/Leaders are engaging with you in the works of service Jesus in inviting us into.

  3. I very much appreciate the leadership of you, Greg! Also, our Regional Director, Tim Sitterley, whose wife, Linda, is Lead Pastor. I am learning so much from their leadership as I participate with the work happening in our church! I love the learning process being taught by leaders who understand that Jesus is Center of the Center in our fellowship!

  4. “My job is not to solve people’s problems or make them happy, but to help them see the grace operating in their lives.”

    ― Eugene H. Peterson, The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction

  5. Great article Greg. I have felt that there has been a concerted effort to help the ministry grow and function with clear goals and with healthy leadership from you and others at the Home Office. I don’t feel like I am doing things alone.

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