The Journey from Church Custodian to Senior Pastor, GRTS Graduate.
Already enrolled in seminary in Chicago, Craig Trierweiler, was asked to join the staff of a church in his hometown of Traverse City.
With a degree in pastoral studies from Moody College he had not envisioned his first ministry job would entail cleaning toilets and mopping floors 45 hours a week. He was the church custodian at New Hope Community Church.
“There were no other jobs available at the church,” said Trierweiler, who dropped out of the seminary program to take the job in 1999. “It was challenging. It definitely worked on my pride and ego. There were times when I thought I had made the wrong decision.”
The senior pastor at the time hired Trierweiler as the custodian with the promise he would bring him onboard as a pastor after a year.
“The church was growing and they didn’t have any pastoral jobs open, but the pastor really wanted me onboard,” said Trierweiler, who had interned at the church the previous two summers. “After the year was up my position morphed into a variety of roles.”
For the next decade, Trierweiler served the church of more than 1,500 members in a variety of roles including the college-age pastor, administrative pastor, teaching pastor at multiple locations, Christian education pastor and small groups director.
When the senior pastor decided to retire in 2010, he was considered the “heir apparent” to take the job, but he was not satisfied with that.
“The board and I decided it was best for the church to look internally and externally for a new senior pastor,” said Trierweiler, “There was a lot of unity about that decision.”
As the pastoral search began in December 2010, he began to pursue more education.
“It was perfect timing,” he said. “Dr. Stowell (Cornerstone’s president) came up to Traverse City and talked to some of us in the area about starting a GRTS cohort online. I was reinvigorated to pursue a degree in leadership.”
He was self-motivated to become a better church leader.
“The timing was good and it was perfect for someone like me who doesn’t have a seminary around to take classes online,” said Trierweiler, who attended Moody College while Dr. Stowell was president. “It was the beginning of a new season and I knew it was essential for my next season of leadership. I wanted to be the best leader I could.”
Eighteen months later in September of 2012, Trierweiler was voted as the churches new senior pastor overseeing 13 staff members and seven pastors.
On May 3, Trierweiler will be one of 71 GRTS students receiving a degree. Trierweiler plans to receive his Master in Ministry Leadership degree diploma in person.
“It was one of the best things I could’ve done in my life,” he said, referring to waiting to go to seminary after being in ministry for 14 years. “The education was intensely practical. Day to day and from week to week for the past two years of seminary I have been able to use my new knowledge in leadership.”
And, he plans to continue training new pastors through the custodian role as he was. This summer he is hiring a Kern Scholar recipient from GRTS to fill that role.
“I have the full intent to hire pastors to fill that role,” he said laughing.
For more about GRTS’s Master in Ministry Leadership degree, visit www.cornerstone.edu/GRTS.