That’s the question Bill Greiner of Eagle Ridge Church of God found himself asking as he and his church prepared for their consultation weekend with HGC last year.
Bill admits he is a reluctant senior pastor. After 20 years in youth ministry, Bill found himself in the Senior Pastor seat of a church with a debt of $1 million dollars on their building, an oversized staff, a recent exodus of key leaders and an aging congregation. To say it was a rough start in the role is an understatement.
Bill spent the first years at Eagle Ridge learning the job of Senior Pastor: healing his congregation, cutting debt, right-sizing his staff, and learning to preach. Eventually, he looked around and realized he had made progress but didn’t know where to go next.
In the past, I always knew intuitively what’s next. But I had no idea what God wanted us to do next.
“In the past, I always knew intuitively what’s next. But I had no idea what God wanted us to do next.” says Bill.
He heard about HGC consultations and believed this would be a way forward. As the consultation weekend approached, Bill was filled with anxiety. He knew he tended to be defensive when presented with critique. He was afraid his hard work wouldn’t be seen as good enough. He was worried they would say he was the wrong man for the job.
All that changed when the team arrived. Bill and his team immediately felt comfortable.
“I realized the consultation team had no personal agenda but that they truly wanted what’s best for myself and for Eagle Ridge. And now I say that this was one of the most important things that I’ve done for my ministry and for my walk with God.” says Bill.
“One of the most important things I heard that weekend was when the senior consultant told me, ‘You are a good leader but you’re not leading well.’” That was a game changer for Bill. God had been working in his heart, growing him for years so that he would be in a spot where he was ready to accept help from this team and then from his HGC coach.
Bill decided to go all in, owning the need to change himself, his leadership styles and his church.
“Bill came to the process admitting that he alone couldn’t take his church to the next level. He opened himself and his church up to the scrutiny of the consultation and the coaching and said ‘Bring It! I’m ready and willing to change.’ Not many people will do that, especially at 50 and especially among senior pastors. But this attitude, this willingness to change, that’s what’s made all the difference.” says Jim Davey, Bill’s HGC coach.
In the last year, Eagle Ridge made some key changes. One of the easiest to see is the change to their service time in favor of a later time. This small change unlocked a barrier for the staff and congregation. In the past, the service time was determined by staff needs. By picking a time that is later and more appealing to guests, everyone was forced to rethink how they do church. The time change became a catalyst for changing the follow-up process, changing the front-end experience and, ultimately, becoming more outward focused.
They made other changes but for Bill the most impactful have been his own journey to understanding his personal leadership style and developing some key leadership skills. Bill is an “SC” leader in the DISC profile. His natural leadership tendencies help him be a good preacher and shepherd but, as a Senior Pastor, he was missing some key skills. Bill’s coach has helped him in learning to be a visionary leader and a good boss. He has learned how to establish boundaries and accountability. He sees his staff growing and reaching to be their best.
I had stayed in a place where I hid from some personal challenges, but now I am growing. You ruined my life but Thank You!
“I had stayed in a place where I hid from some personal challenges, but now I am growing. You ruined my life but Thank You!” laughs Bill.
For a person who loves consistency, this process has been stressful but also exciting and full of hope for the future. Bill is full of new energy that is leaking all over the ministry. He says that it was like his people have been waiting to see change. Eagle Ridge is just beginning the work toward a new life cycle but both the church and their pastor are forever changed.
Bill and his wife, Robin, live in Midland, Michigan with their four children.