The History of ChurchGrowth.org
As a business owner and active layperson in Cecil County, Maryland, Larry Gilbert decided to form a Christian business organization. In the meetings, which included pastors, he heard of problems in boosting church membership, motivating people to get involved, and helping them to develop into spiritually mature Christians. The pastors’ frustration and quest for answers greatly concerned Larry. He was motivated to help struggling churches and pastors.
Larry Gilbert founded Steps in Living Ministries in 1978 as a means to provide resources that would help pastors and churches. He sold his successful sign business in Maryland and moved to Lynchburg, Virginia, where he enrolled in Liberty University. There he met Dr. Elmer Towns. With Larry Gilbert’s business knowledge and experience and Dr. Towns’ teaching ability and church growth expertise, the two of them worked together to launch the Church Growth Institute in 1984, under the parent corporation Steps in Living Ministries. The corporation name was later changed to Ephesians Four Ministries, based on Ephesians 4:11-12, “for the equipping of the saints.”
Dr. Towns authored several popular resources and was the foremost seminar speaker for the organization in the early years. Dr. Gilbert oversaw the resource development and administrative duties as he also served as a seminar speaker and authored materials, including the popular Team Ministry Spiritual Gifts resource series.
In 2008, Ephesians Four Ministries created the free online Spiritual Gifts Survey at TeamMinistry.com based on Larry Gilbert’s best-selling Team Ministry Spiritual Gifts Inventory which has helped over 5 million people to identify their spiritual gifts.
Through the years, our most popular resources have been Friend Day (evangelistic attendance campaign), the Team Ministry series (including Team Ministry, Team Evangelism, Team Mate and others), and the ever-expanding line of “discovery” tools such as the Team Ministry Spiritual Gifts Inventory and its newest edition Your Gifts Spiritual Gifts Survey, Spiritual Growth Survey, Evaluating Your Friendship Skills, Marriage Communication Assessment, Leadership/Management Inventory, Fruit of the Spirit Assessment, and more.
From a legacy of Christian publishers dating back to Henrietta Mears’s founding of Gospel Light in 1933, to Bill’s grandfather Bill Greig Sr, then to his father Bill Greig Jr, Christian publishing has always been a part of Bill’s life. After earning his MBA and working for an advertising agency, Bill joined his father to help lead Gospel Light and Regal Books for 25 years. During a sabbatical in 2013, the Lord gave Bill a renewed vision for the future of Christian publishing.
It became clear to he and Rhonni that God was shifting them into a new season. Bill sensed God’s call to leave Gospel Light and to assemble a team to implement a new publishing model—fueled by the dramatic changes brought on by new technologies and digital media.
As Bill and Rhonni prayed, they were reminded of Church Growth Institute. At the same time, Larry Gilbert and his wife Mary Lou were praying for someone to continue his legacy. God brought them together and they all agreed that Bill and Rhonni would continue, renew and expand the work started by the Gilberts.
The Greigs relaunched Church Growth Institute as ChurchGrowth.org in June 2014 along with the help of an experienced and talented group of web developers, editors, designers, marketing specialists and sales professionals…including Cindy Spear, who served Church Growth Institute and ChurchGrowth.org for over 25 years.
Bill and Rhonni strongly believe that the best days are ahead. Not only do they plan to serve more churches and individuals with resources to Unleash Spiritual Growth, they are now partnering with Christian bookstores and distributors to help make ChurchGrowth.org resources available everywhere.
Whether you are a pastor, church staff member, counselor, teacher, ministry volunteer or lay person, ChurchGrowth.org offers resources to help you to learn, grow, teach and Unleash Spiritual Growth.