On the Frontlines of Fast Growth: Meet Jill Gille
Jill is the Executive Project Director at Eastside Christian Church in Anaheim, CA. Her journey to this role started back on a farm in Illinois where she grew up with 2 older brothers, thousands of pigs, corn, beans and an interest in sports & music. Choosing music in college, she graduated with a BM in Jazz Studies with an emphasis in Commercial Music.
Jill gained a wide variety of experience via being a theater tech, playing in a Christian rock band, and consulting/designing/installing technical systems in small churches. Jill has a passion to create environments in the church to attract the unchurched. She firmly believes that the church is “built” by volunteers.
Before Eastside, Jill worked at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois. Over 11 years there she held various technical director titles including leading the production staff of 42 amazing people in the campus-wide production department.
Jill is transitioning into a new role at Eastside that will dig into her desire to create and maintain a healthy and flourishing staff environment – especially during church growth. Keeping Eastside’s teams and brand stable in the preparation for multi-sites is one of the first projects she will lead.
Jill enjoys being outside as much as possible, going to the beach, exploring SoCal, eating sushi, hanging with friends and most importantly, being with her family doing anything…as long as it’s outside!
Eastside Christian Church is one of the most amazing church stories in the USA right now. Across 5 campuses and multiple service times, they grew 38% in 2017, making them the second fastest growing church in the US. They added 1,472 people on average to their weekly services in 2018, placing them on the list once again. It has been a huge honor to partner with Eastside through Intentional GrowthPlanning since 2016 and see this amazing story unfold firsthand.
We’re honored to talk with you today, Jill. You’ve served at some amazing churches consistently listed in Outreach as part of America’s Fastest Growing Churches. Tell us how this experience has prepared you for ministry and serving other churches.
While growing quickly is an amazing feeling, and I’ve always been thankful to be in the midst of dynamic churches, there are challenges that come along with fast growth. An unchurched or de-churched person who decides to attend church has yet to grow into a committed “member.” Therefore they may not be volunteering and/or giving financially which can put a toll on the church within months of a growth spurt. I’ve been blessed to serve on an Executive Team that thrives on vision, process and stability while growing as fast as resources will allow. We are working to build our financial margin. Not only will margin help us during growth spurts, but it will also poise us to launch the next campus using cash.
I’ve also learned how important it is to have a solid “base camp;” in our case, a solid broadcast campus that is producing replicable ministries and weekends. Having a central team and central budget in place is key – even if people are wearing two hats until it’s time to transition to a fully committed central team. A simple church approach using Intentional Growth Planning keeps the vision clear and ministry uncluttered both in process and delivery. This approach also helps keep physical spaces, like campuses, the right size, not requiring lots of extra square footage for on-campus activities. One size does not fit all and we are all learning from each other throughout our ministry years.
What have been the highs and lows of serving churches through IC and Eastside?
A high for me is seeing the lightbulb come on for people as they learn who they are, why their church exists and how they are going to multiply. We like to ask churches what will it take to double your impact in the next 5 years? Let’s declare that and build a plan to make it happen.
A low for me would be when a church or a person is focused on program-based internal growth rather than external growth, and thereby reaching people that haven’t made any sort of spiritual commitment or even shown desire. We must look through the lens of a guest. We must be willing to set aside some of our preferences so that when we make the invite and they show up on campus, or come to a service opportunity, or to our home for a small group, they are welcomed, they experience regular people and are met wherever they are in their spiritual journey. What are we saying, doing, showing, singing, asking? And what would be someone’s next step if they were to take that step?
How did you become a part of IC?
In addition to knowing Bart and Doug from doing ministry in like-minded churches, we (Eastside) brought in IC to lead our executive team through an IGP process in 2016. Becoming the VIP Activator, I felt I needed some training; so I attended and graduated that same year. I signed up and have been on the ride since!
Share some wisdom or encouragement you have learned from being in the trenches of ministry.
We get to do this! God doesn’t need us but He chooses to use us. Every day I am thankful that He has gifted me, led me, given me energy, and honestly, challenged me to push harder in a healthy manner. Each day I choose how I’m going to walk through the door at work. Paid or volunteer, we create the culture around us. This doesn’t mean we are happy, happy, joy, joy, 24/7. Nor does it mean we wear everything on our sleeve. Praying on my drive to work and giving it ALL to God is critical before approaching the day.
We need honest people in our lives, professional counseling, exercise, fun and rest. Finding good relationships, making the time to rest and exercise, and being present for our families is up to us – truly it is – no matter our circumstances. Maybe it’s time for a change. Do not be afraid of change, especially if it will improve and increase your health. Make a plan! Just like an IGP – Where do you see yourself in 5 years?