May 2, 2018 — by Dana Allin

What Is Your Next Flourishing Step? Part II

One of my favorite promises of hope is found in Philippians 1:6. Paul writes, I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. I often hear this passage applied to individuals - that God has done a good work in each of us and will continue His mighty work in us. While this is certainly true, the context of the passage reminds us that Paul is giving this promise to the whole church of Philippi. As I have taught and used this passage in multiple venues, I have often been struck by two important truths that come from it.

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May 2, 2018 — by Lisa Johnson

Unleashing the Laity: New Resources for Officer Training and Commissioned Lay Pastor Certification

From it’s inception, ECO set out to make one of our five shifts to be moving from “clergy centered” churches to “unleashing the laity.” If we want to unleash the laity, we realize that we must provide quality training for any and all lay leaders who are seeking to grow in their leadership skills and spiritual maturity for the sake of the Kingdom. In this way, we want to begin to shift the culture in our ECO churches away from clergy and staff monopolizing the bulk of what God calls the body of Christ to do. We have realized that there need to be several different levels of training in order to meet the needs of our leaders and our local churches.

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May 2, 2018 — by ECO NEWS

The Importance of Missional Communities

My name is Chloe and I am a part of Goodland Church, a church plant in Santa Barbara, California. I teach English and lead Young Life at Santa Barbara High School, and spend as much time as possible hanging out with my pastor, Becky, gleaning whatever I can from her about church planting.

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May 2, 2018 — by ECO NEWS

Miss Mae Returns Home, Thanks to ECO Volunteers

In March, Pastor Jack McClelland of Fredericksburg Presbyterian, an ECO Church in Fredericksburg, Ohio, volunteered with 14 other men in Port Arthur, Texas through ECO’s disaster relief partner, World Renew. Pastor McClelland recently reflected on his experience with World Renew Disaster Response Services (DRS).

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April 4, 2018 — by Dana Allin

What Is Your Next Flourishing Step?

I hope and pray that you all had a wonderful Lenten season and Easter Sunday celebration of the powerful impact of the Resurrection on our lives and in our churches. One of my favorite books in the Bible is Acts, with it’s great recounting of how the resurrection changed the whole trajectory, mission, and orientation of the disciples. Acts begins in the same way that the book of Matthew ends: A commission is given to the disciples who are going to be witnesses to every region and to every person in the world.  I can imagine the disciples who heard the words of Jesus were likely excited about the possibilities, and perhaps overwhelmed at the enormity of the task. I know if I had been a disciple in that room I would have asked, “Ok Jesus, so what is the next step I need to take?”

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April 4, 2018 — by Communications Team

Church Plant Spotlight: RiverCross Church, Visalia, CA

Rev. Karl Schafer, Pastor : What is the vision for RiverCross The vision of RiverCross is to make relationships with Jesus real. We want to see everyone changed and impacted by finding or deepening their relationship with Jesus. We say that this means everyone must step into relationships with Jesus - For people just now getting to know Jesus, we hope they step into that relationship - For people who already have relationships with Jesus, we want to see them step further into those relationships.

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April 4, 2018 — by Communications Team

Kairos Moment at the Presbytery of Texas Meeting

by Rev. Susan Finck Pastor, El Calvario Presbyterian Church: There are two words for “time” in the New Testament: chronos – the time on your watch, and kairos –  when God’s time intersects the regular course of events, infused with His holiness and purposes. On behalf of all of us at ECPC Waco, we are thankful that God came near in a true ‘kairos moment’ during the Presbytery of Texas meeting this past January.

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April 4, 2018 — by Jen Haddox

Sharing in Grace and Mission

Earlier this spring I called together a group of mission leaders in Franklin, TN, to collaborate and connect about how to further strengthen ECO’s Global Engagement. At the conclusion of our two-day consultation, I was overwhelmed by how energizing and productive our time had been. We had discerned priorities and mission practices together and generated ideas for what we could do in partnership that we could not accomplish as individual congregations or organizations. The synergy was tangible! And beyond the ideas and action steps we generated, we all were energized by the relationships that had formed and deepened during our conversations over ideas and around tables at meals.

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April 4, 2018 — by Anna Kent

Healthy Leaders Lead Healthy Congregations

I remember John Ortberg making this simple, intuitive, yet very important statement at one of our first ECO gatherings.  It has stuck with me since then as I continue to repeat it time and time again when asked to speak about our covenantal accountability.  One of the major premises behind ECO’s Pastoral Covenant Groups (PCG) and Mission Affinity Groups (MAG) is the idea of promoting a sense of health among our leaders.  We encourage PCGs to consider six areas of health when they connect together: Spiritual, Relational, Emotional, Vocational, Congregational and Physical. These areas of health offer excellent points of thought and reflection for all of our leaders in ECO.

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March 6, 2018 — by Dana Allin

Being a Hero-Maker

I am just returning home from a week-long trip to Florida that served two purposes. One was to work with Mandarin Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville, where Kevin Pound has been the senior pastor for 25 years. Over those years, the church has increased from an average worship attendance of less than 200 to 800 worshiping together on a Sunday. Now Kevin is preparing to retire. As a result of that impending change, the church is engaging in an intentional succession process to find a new senior pastor. I was working with the church and the PNC on that process to help determine what vision God has for them in the future, as well as helping to find the right new senior pastor to implement that vision.

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March 6, 2018 — by Lisa Johnson

Four Words That Changed My Life and Could Change Our Denomination

I was 26 years old, had just graduated from seminary, newly ordained, and in my first call as a pastor. The night before I was to preach my first sermon, I walked across the hall in our apartment building to borrow an egg from our neighbors, who were members of the church where I was serving. Dick answered the door, and as his wife went to get me an egg, he asked me how I was feeling about preaching the next day. I told him that I was a bit nervous, as the new, young pastor. Then he told me “Whenever I am overwhelmed by the size of the task in front of me, I pray four simple words: ‘Holy Spirit, take over.’ Try it tomorrow before you step into the pulpit. I think you will be amazed at what He can do.”

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March 6, 2018 — by Anna Kent

Mission Affinity Groups (MAGS): The Narrative Questions

The Narrative Questions… love ‘em, hate ‘em, don’t like ‘em, don’t get ‘em, don’t know ‘em…Over the years of ECO’s existence, I think I’ve heard it all.  I get it. The Narrative Questions on Mission and Ministry - even the name is long and a challenge! These ten questions were pulled from our Presbyterian history and are intended to invite the Session of a church to give a qualitative assessment of what God is doing in their midst and context. Those answers are then shared together in a Mission Affinity Group meeting. In a sense, the Narrative Questions provide an opportunity for an annual Examen – a way for us to be aware where God has been active and at work in the overall ministries of a church. They then provide a basis for Sessions to encourage and hold one another accountable to be flourishing churches that make disciples of Jesus Christ.  

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