BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT: MEET DOCTORS NORRIS AND TONYA MCGILL OF ANTIOCH CHRISTIAN CHURCH
“If you want to succeed, you have to do two things: start and don’t quit,” shares Dr. Norris Q. McGill. He and his wife Dr. Tonya McGill did just that, 15 years ago, when they founded Antioch Christian Church in Irving, Texas. Serving as Senior (he) and Executive (she) pastor they agree that it was not fulfilling a dream to “start something”. Rather, it is a responsibility to a community of people and a calling to serve.
When it comes to leading a church, it is more than service on Sundays, says the couple. While it is truly a calling from God, like any other profession it takes lots of planning . As she puts it, “Caring for people and a whole community is a seven day a week job.” While any decision to start something–be it a new business, nonprofit or other organization–is a big step, few startups carry with it the responsibility of caring for and ministering to people, like the church. The McGills akin themselves to hostage negotiators–each day working with people who are going through experiences that range from trite to tremendous. The task is made much harder when you start to challenge a person’s beliefs. “Once the mind is set, it is very difficult to renew,” says Dr. N. McGill.
While they seem to have been born for their current station in life. The McGills both agree that starting a church was not on either of their radar 15 years ago. He was an asset manager with a fortune 500 company and she was a project manager for an information systems software company. “This was certainly not a career move,” he declares. In fact, he shares that it was while looking towards God for answers to his own questions–at the time their family was experiencing financial hardship–that he received his calling. When he shared his decision to start the church with his wife–as with any decision–there were so many questions, but that did not prevent either of them from carrying through. As she shares, “We have done this in 100-percent faith; we were not prepared or trained in ministry and never had aspirations or other reasons to go start a church.”
For the McGills, success has been two-fold. As many founders will agree, being able to continue on is a true testament to anyone’s faith–regardless of what you are doing. As she candidly puts it, “I believe that it’s not giving up; continuing for 15 years to be faithful despite everything that has happened.” Moreover, when your decision is to lead people in their religious faith, that comes with a lot more than many bargain for or could even handle. “This is a hard job and I’ve worked some hard jobs,” say Dr. N. McGill. However, for the couple, many of their victories have been because of the hard work that they are willing to put in. “I like providing a safe place where people can come to find their purpose,” he continues. Over the years, they have been privileged to be a part of many lives–literally watching church members grow up, go to college and start their own families.
Starting the church has not come without learning many of the same lessons that other founders have learned. Dr. T. McGill admits, “In the beginning we didn’t have a lot of balance, because we actually worked too much.” Working Monday through Saturday, with church on Sunday, the couple had to learn what was most important–not only for the ministry, but for themselves–if they were going to maintain. In part, they attribute their ability to remain faithful to their assignment, to one another. “She is a great balance for me; there is no way I would have hung in without her support,” say Dr. N. McGill of his wife, who continues, “I agree. Great partnership and we have also remained disciples, not just pastors.” Dr. T. McGill adds that they have been blessed with great counsel from established ministry leaders from across the country, who have assisted and guided them along this journey.
As with any desire to start something, the McGills caution that ministry is not for the faint of heart. Leading others in religious faith has to truly be a calling from God, “if not, you won’t last,” stresses the senior pastor. He adds that it is important to surround yourself with people who nurture and even channel that passion and faith that it will take. “Even a pioneer needs a pioneer,” he states. To her husband’s advice, Dr. T. McGill adds, “This is a marathon, not a sprint. Set your mind for and be committed to the journey.”
When it comes to Minding Your Black Business the McGills believe that community is truly missing from today’s world. Dr. N. McGill shares, “We grew up in a small community where we sincerely cared for one another. With our businesses we lack that and simply don’t remember to care for one another.” He stresses that if any community is to prosper, we must genuinely mean well for one another. A tenet that many seem to have forgotten. We must finally understand that helping the next man only strengthens us as people and communities. Believing that the success of Black business is rooted much deeper than just dollars, is paramount if the Black community as a whole is to succeed. The root of prosperity reaches much farther back than what we see today. For the couple this has been a large part of leading the church. Bringing back many of the “old ways” and applying them to modern times– has been a cause near and dear to them–so that we can know and remember who we are as people and citizens of our communities. As Dr. N. McGill puts it, “If you don’t know who you are, you are open to be defined by other people.”
Learn more about The McGills and Antioch Christian Church, by visiting the website.
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