Bill Ehlig has lived in the Houston area for a long time. He was a minister for the Churches of Christ from 1973 until 2008. During those years Bill worked with churches in Scotland and Texas. In the years since, Bill was the executive director of the Baytown Resource and Assistance Center, an organization specializing in preliminary monetary and counseling assistance to families in economic stress. He is currently an elder with the church where he last worked. With Ruby Payne, Bill wrote What Every Church Member Should Know About Poverty. He has been associated with Dr. Payne since 1996 and has been presenting materials on poverty to churches and civic groups since 1999.
- Master of Arts in Ancient Church History (emphasis on early church/state relations), Abilene Christian University
- Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies, Abilene Christian University
- Executive Director, Baytown Resource and Assistance Center, Baytown, Texas
- Minister, Baytown, Texas
- Youth Minister, Sherman, Texas
- Mission Worker, Scotland, Romania, and Mexico
- Truck Driver, Houston
- Bookmobile Driver, Sterling Municipal Public Library
- What Every Church Member Should Know About Poverty, with Ruby Payne, 1999, 2005
Bill’s aha! moment
I met Ruby Payne in 1995 when she had just published Framework and was still an administrator with the local school district. My wife worked for the district and suggested that I meet her. I had been interested in poverty issues since my days as a bookmobile driver in college. Ruby was kind enough to give me a few hours and a couple boxes of her book to spread around. We both knew that what had been designed for teachers and schools also had direct application to churches. There was this difference: Public educators have the commission to address poverty by governmental mandates. Christians, despite heavenly mandates, take on poverty on a volunteer basis. The book for church members and my presentation address this reality along with the Framework and Bridges materials.
During a break at one presentation, a police chief asked me why he and his officers would want to understand the thinking of young men in poverty, particularly their hidden rules. My answer was that this could help level the playing field. Since I had been teaching such young men the hidden rules of the police and courts, it seemed only fair that I offer the same regarding the young men. The aha! Process package works well in all directions across the economic field. Within the context of the church, this is basic to communication and ministry. Going beyond the connections that may happen in schools or municipalities, churches are family. They call one another brother and sister. My passions are connections, communication, and the positive strength that can grow from understanding. I strongly suspect that God is passionate about these too.
Bill’s best training
In many aha! Process presentations, a great deal is made of generational poverty. This is as it should be. Within the church context, I begin at the other end of the scale; I present in detail about generational wealth and the resources that come with it. Often, church leaders (like city fathers and school board members) are heavily resourced and not unusually born to them. The assumption that just hard work and virtue have brought them their positions can be a difficult place to begin consideration of ministry to less-resourced individuals. The church-book presentation attempts to bring a mutual respect and appreciation of the various economic and cultural perspectives. From there the training is toward an expansion of the other resources.
What does Bill do for fun?
First, I love to spend time with my grandchildren and learn things together. Second, I enjoy history. Third, I look for new things to try. I recently flew around in a stunt plane. It was amazing, but no more so than spending a week in a village in Mexico.
What are people saying about Bill and the book?
“[The presentation] will be the foundation for decision making and interactions with the people I work with.”
“My mind was already thinking of ways to implement changes at our food pantry and church setting.”
“Bill Ehlig has a wonderful presentation—very relatable, very discerning, and also encourages participants to network together. This workshop was an inspiration and will change and impact many lives.”
“Bill did a great job of interacting with his audience. Smooth presenter—easy listening—I’m not worn out listening like I thought I would be.”
“I would not have wanted to spend my Saturday any other way.”
What are people saying about the church book?
“[The book] will provide tools to help you make the best decisions about allocating resources. Also, your expression of God’s compassion for the poor will be more effective.”
– Review in Christian Standard
“This is a crucial guide for those in the church who are working with different economic backgrounds. It clearly articulated some of the things I have discovered in my work with those in poverty. The authors also gave reasons for the behavior which helps when behavior modification is helpful. The book also honored what is good and valuable about the culture of poverty and lessons which the middle class can learn from folks in poverty. It was an easy read with a nice mix of theory and practicality. One of the best continuing education pieces I have read in a while.”
– Review on Amazon.com
“[Reading the book] will be anything but a waste of time, I assure you. I realize it can be tempting to believe that, if you currently have ‘no contact’ with the poor, there is no reason to read such a book. Read the book. Then we can talk. I am willing to bet (not that I am a betting lady) you will never see things in quite the same light.”
– Review on Hope from Northwest Georgia