Gilbert Thurston

Gilbert Thurston

Lead Pastor

Gilbert Thurston started in full-time ministry in 2000. Prior to that he owned two successful businesses. His first pastoral assignment was at New Life Christian Ministries in Maryland. There he was the Associate Pastor where he oversaw each of the churches 23 ministries in addition to speaking at about 20% of the weekend services.

Next, he worked for Rick Warren and Purpose Driven Ministries. Gilbert traveled all over North America for 3 years training over 10,000 churches and 30,000 church leaders in how to make a bigger difference in their local community.

In the fall of 2006, Gilbert began consulting for the Chambersburg First Church of God in Chambersburg, PA (now Grand Point Church). In January of 2007, he accepted the role of Associate Pastor at the church with his primary responsibilities being the lead and teaching pastor for the church’s contemporary services. Under Gilbert’s leadership, attendance went from an average of 52 per Sunday to a peak of 550. The majority of the growth came from hundreds of people praying for the first time to ask Jesus for His forgiveness and leadership in their lives.

In late 2009, Gilbert felt a call to move to Harrisburg, PA to start a brand new church.  On October 17, 2010, Exponential Church officially launched and Gilbert is as excited today as he was then about helping people in Harrisburg and beyond take life-changing next steps in their journey towards God, no matter what that next step might look like.   

Gilbert and his wife Lisa have been married for over 25 years and love to travel.

Bill Butler

Bill Butler

Worship Pastor

Bill began his musical talent over 20 years ago when he started piano lessons as a kid. He was also the nerdy kid who sang louder than all the others during school music classes. Over the course of the next eight years, Bill would grow his musicianship skills by accompanying the county chorus, playing brass instruments, and even playing the organ weekly for his home church in Martinsburg, Pennsylvania (…no worries, there’s no organ at Exponential).

As a junior in high school, Bill attended a Christian camp and experienced life-changing worship music for the first time. Realizing how powerfully it changed his life and his relationship with Christ, he wanted to help others have a similar encounter with fresh, life-changing worship.

Through the next several years, God began to unfold this dream in his life. In 2005 he graduated from Messiah College with a Christian Ministries degree. He then served as the youth pastor and worship leader at the United Church of God here in Harrisburg. Bill was a founding member of the band “On Damascus Road,” which covered alternative Christian music such as Switchfoot, P.O.D., and Kutless.

Bill married Meghan in 2008. They live in Lower Paxton township with their children Ryan and Rosemary as well as various pets. During the weekday he works as a Software Engineer for Penn State. The rest of the week he is working alongside all the great people at Exponential Church to create life-changing worship experiences.