Talk to Bill Greig III for any length of time and you’ll come away impressed by his genuine humility and desire to make a difference for others. His family’s roots in Christian publishing date back to the 1950s, and though he’s made his own unique contributions to the industry over the last 35 years, including partnering in ZDL, the largest Christian publishing and media company in China, Greig doesn’t consider himself a pioneer.
“Those of us who are blessed to be in Christian publishing are standing on the shoulders of men and women who were visionary trailblazers committed to the proclamation of the truth found in the message of Jesus Christ,” he once wrote. “These industry giants have influenced the world through their courage and commitment to Christian publishing.”
A Father’s Influence
After graduating from Bethel College in the late 1970s, Greig went to work with his father at Gospel Light, the publishing house started by Henrietta Mears during the Great Depression. Greig’s family has run Gospel Light since 1950 when Mears handed the Gospel Light baton to Greig’s grandfather, father, and uncle.
“I worked [there] for two years out of college,” he says. “I went on to get a master’s degree in marketing from California State University at Northridge. Then I worked for seven years for a large advertising agency in Los Angeles. I learned so much about branding, positioning products, launching products, and supporting product lines.
“When I rejoined Gospel Light in 1988, I was able to come help my father and the team by breathing some new life into the publishing company,” he says. “The Lord allowed us to hire a bunch of great people in the late 1980s and 1990s. As a result, we were able to grow Gospel Light threefold in the 1990s.
“For me,” he continues, “the greatest joy was working with my father. From my father, I learned a love for God and His Word as well as for the church, large and small. One of the things that occurred to me early on was that if churches aren’t vibrant and growing, it’s very hard for Christian authors and publishers to have a growing audience. So one of the things that we all need to do in the Christian resource world is to work hard to help local churches thrive.”
“In 2013,” says Greig, “my wife and I sensed that God had something new for us to pursue. So, in June 2014 we purchased and took leadership of a very small organization called ChurchGrowth.org. The Lord pointed my wife and me toward Larry Gilbert, one of the organization’s founders along with Elmer Towns. We sensed a strong calling that God had assigned us to this work.
“Similar to back in 1988 when I rejoined Gospel Light, we’ve had a tough economy to deal with and some difficult circumstances,” he says. “A lot of people in the Christian resource world are wondering if there is a future and what is the future. As far as we can see, we very much believe that God has called us and others in the Christian resource world to serve pastors, church leaders, and Christians so they can grow spiritually and share their faith in order to reach others for Christ.
“One of the messages of hope that we try to bring,” he adds, “is that your church can grow no matter what the circumstances, no matter what the history, no matter what challenges it may face. It can grow.”
A Bright Future
It’s been said that attitude determines outlook. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons Greig has such a bright outlook on the future.
“There are always people who are going to look at the glass half-empty and say our best days are behind us,” he says. “Everything is changing, and we need to adjust, whether we’re retailers or publishers. The founding principles for all of our organizations are still there: there are people who need to know the love of Christ. There are people who need comfort. We need to bring hope and encouragement to our neighbors, our families, and our world.
“I’m a glass-is-half-full guy. We have tools that the pioneers never dreamed were possible. We have capabilities that would just wow them. I’m excited about the opportunities we have to bring Christ to the world. By the power of Christ and the guiding of the Holy Spirit, our greatest days are ahead.”