Greg is the Founder of Worship Impressions, and a Contributor in the areas of Leadership, Worship, Marketing & Publicity and Working with Volunteers.This interview was originally posted in our March 2016 Newsletter.
Over the course of his career, Greg has served as a Worship Pastor, Technical Director and Multi-site Pastor. He is the founder of Worship Impressions, author of several best-selling books and serves as a consultant to some of the largest and fastest growing churches in the U.S.
Q: Greg, how long have you been involved in ministry?
A: I began serving my first church 22 years ago, but I actually started serving in ministry when I was in high school, and really knew that I wanted that to be involved in ministry long before that. I was saved as a young child, in first grade. Then, when I was in 5th grade, I was asked what I wanted to do when I grew up. Others said president, astronaut, actor…I said I wanted to be a minister. When I was ordained, my 5th grade teacher was there because she said she had never met someone so determined and dead set on “This is what I’m going to do with my life.” And she still remembered it all those years later.
Q: You have been involved in so many areas of ministry—Worship, Leadership, Communications, Working with Volunteers, which gave you the perspective to serve as Secret Shopper for some of the largest and fastest growing churches in the country. How did you come to have such wide-ranging experience?
A: Over the course of my career, I’ve served in a several areas that provided great exposure to all the things that happen in churches. For the first eleven years of my career, I served as a worship pastor. I had started blogging about media resources, because I always had kind of a leaning towards media and technology, and I was contacted by the founder of WorshipHouse Media—which has since been bought by Salem Church Products—to help launch their website. I moved to Dallas and was with them for two years until, in 2006, I began serving as the technical director of a church in Dallas. They had financial difficulties and had to release me and others on staff and that’s when I began doing some consulting for ARC. About seven years ago, Billy Hornsby, the head of ARC who was a great mentor, asked if I would be a secret shopper and really helped launch my secret shopping career. Through all the interaction I began to experience with multi-site churches, I really had a desire to pastor a multi-site church myself. So I did that for several years and am now in a place where I focus all of my time on creating leadership resources and doing the secret shopping and consulting.
Q: Some of those resources are books—you have two available now and a third will be published this Spring. Can you tell us why you wrote them and how you hoped they would help ministry leaders?
A: It is really my heart’s desire is to resource pastors and church leaders. My first book is Church Leadership Essentials, which is an easy read and really draws from the experiences I had going back to my first church, all the way up to the challenges I face in the present day. The experience that inspired me to write that book was when I took my kids to a church for a children’s choir rehearsal. We were there on time but the director arrived late. I wrote a chapter about not wasting volunteers’ time and leading with excellence, as a servant-leader. It’s a helpful book for anyone in leadership…for children’s pastors, youth pastors, even volunteer leaders.
The second book I wrote was Strange Leadership, which is a Biblical view of innovation—which is the act of doing or introducing something new. “Innovation” is a popular buzzword in the secular business world, but I wanted to take a look at what the Bible says about it. Isaiah 43:19 says, “Behold, I am doing a new thing.” This book is the result of a six-year journey. I did a tour speaking on innovation and people would come up and ask me about other ideas and, over time, I ended up with 40 Biblical innovation methods. I am currently working on a second edition of it, which will include a bonus chapter, and will be released soon.
My third book, Secrets of a Secret Shopper is scheduled to come out this Summer. The churches I do Secret Shopping for have 2,000 members or more, but I wanted to write this book so churches and ministries of all sizes could apply some of the principles I teach. There’s no substitute for real-life experience and feedback but I wanted to provide smaller ministries with a resource that could help them tackle some of these things on their own. The topics range from online presence, parking lot, the worship service—everything from lighting to music—and everything else that happens on a weekend experience for a church.
Q: What advice or insight do you have for someone who is just starting out as a ministry leader?
A: Find a mentor. When I was still in high school, I was mentored by my pastor and worship pastor, who kind of took me in under their wings and took me out with them to visit sick and shut-ins, and hospital visits and kind of taught me the ropes. On a personal, professional and spiritual level, those relationships are invaluable, even years later, when you need advice. Later in my career, Billy Hornsby, my mentor at ARC, was incredibly helpful in encouraging me and launching me into secret shopping churches.
Q: What are some of the specific lessons you’ve learned throughout your service in this ministry?
A: Pride will sneak up on you. I have yet to meet a pastor that doesn’t struggle with pride. When I first started out, I was so untrained, so clueless, so young, so naive, so desperate and dependent upon God and God alone. Over the years, when we have a few wins under our belt, when we have some successes, pride creeps in and we begin to operate in a spirit of independence, where we no longer rely solely on God. So what I try to fight for is daily focus on my dependence on the Holy Spirit to lead and guide me. Every night I pray for wisdom. The Bible says if we ask for wisdom, God will give generously, so I pray for that and that He would guide and direct my steps. I have struggled with pride over the years because I’ve been able to do some amazing things. I would caution people starting out to never lose a sense of dependency.
I also learned that, in ministry, it’s important to listen to your spouse, if you have one. God has placed them in your life as a helper in making decisions. I was once offered a position at Saddleback Church in California but turned it down but because my wife really didn’t want to move, which was one of the big factors that caused me to not be at peace about accepting the job. Soon after that, I was offered a very similar position right there in Dallas, where we lived at the time. God is talking to us, but He’s also talking to our spouse and we’re wise to acknowledge that.
Q: What are some of the challenges of being involved in ministry? What advice can you offer for overcoming them?
God uses our challenges and struggles to shape us into the leader we will become. When I was just starting out, I went through some real hardships. Older people who did not like change were very resistant of anything that I did. Being a young college student, coming in trying to lead, I really faced a lot of battles. God really used that experience to strengthen me as a leader and develop my character. I think the reason that I’m able to write books on leadership goes back to those early challenges as a college student serving in ministry leadership.
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