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.

ECO’s three newest resources to help unleash the laity are found in a new training curriculum and certification program being developed for 2019, based upon ECO’s Ten Core Leadership Competencies:  




1. Maturity of Faith and Personal Call

2. Personal Integrity

3. Biblical Knowledge and Interpretation

4. Theological Knowledge

5. Polity Knowledge and Application

6. Sacramental Knowledge

7.  PracticeMissional Engagement

8. Leadership Development

9. Team Leadership

10. Preaching and Teaching

Read more about these competencies here.

Officer and Leadership Training: Elders, Deacons and other Church Lay Leaders

ECO exists to build flourishing churches who make disciples of Jesus. In order to fulfill our vision we must develop lay leaders within our churches who are skilled in our Ten Core Competencies. This officer/leader training offers ten video-taught classes from experts in each of the competencies, with opportunities for discussion, discernment and action after each lecture. This course is designed for leaders in the church to learn to be more effective in their roles, or trained for a role that may be their next flourishing step. This training is fully facilitated in your local church by your pastor, elders or staff.

CLP1: Commissioned Lay Pastors Serving in Churches and Micro-expressions of Church

Our ECO polity provides for lay leaders who feel called and gifted to administer the sacraments and step into the role of a lay pastor serving under the Pastor of their church (2.0502). ECO deeply desires to unleash the laity to do God’s Kingdom work in the places where they are already serving. CLP1s are lay leaders who are serving their church by leading micro-expressions of church (small groups, youth groups, missional communities, etc.), and who wish a deeper level of training in ECO’s Ten Core Competencies. This certification is a 10-month process, including video lectures and homework assignments, and participation with a cohort from around the States, a facilitator, and a mentor from your local church. We encourage all ECO churches to view this certification as necessary to commission CLP1s to administer the sacraments in their micro-expressions of church.

The course structure involves two virtual meetings a month (cohort interaction/community learning) with reading, writing, and reflecting in between (personal learning). The final project necessary for certification is a paper on what the student has learned and how they have grown in each of the Ten Core Competencies, to be graded by your facilitator.

CLP2: Commissioned Lay Pastors Serving as Pastors

Our ECO polity and missional ecclesiology also allows for Lay Leaders who are properly gifted and trained to serve as Pastors of a local church without getting a traditional seminary degree and being ordained (2.0503). This makes pastoring a church more accessible to a wider array of people, and allows God to use gifted and trained leaders in His mission. This course is a 2-3 year process which involves all of the training described for officers and CLP1s, plus additional classes. These classes may include, but are not limited to, New Testament and Old Testament Bible courses, Theology, Preaching, Basic Scripture Exegesis, Leading Change, Church Management, and additional spiritual formation opportunities. This CLP2 certification is meant to equip a Lay Leader with the skills needed to pastor a church. Once they are certified, they may be called to serve as an ECO church pastor.

We are prayerfully and carefully designing training that will be holistic in nature, incorporating four different types of learning: communal, personal, modeled and experiential learning. The course content is Biblical, historical, theological, practical, and draws from ECO polity resources. We share these new training and certification programs with you now because we know there are leaders and candidates who are looking forward to these new resources. Registration for the CLP1 and CLP2 cohorts will begin Fall 2018. We welcome your prayers as we develop these important resources.

Just as we encourage each church to ask and answer What is your next flourishing step?, we also encourage leaders of all types to ask and answer the same question. One of these three resources might be your answer! If you think these courses might be of interest to you or someone in your congregation, please contact kim@eco-pres.org, or pass along this information to others so that you might help “unleash the laity.”


Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson grew up in Orange County, California and received her BA in Communication Studies at Westmont College. She received her Masters of Divinity at Princeton Seminary and was ordained in the PC(USA) in 1999. She has ministered at five different Presbyterian churches in New Jersey, Santa Barbara, Orange County and San Diego as an Associate Pastor. She has a passion for teaching spiritual formation and discipleship and feels that ELI is a great fit for her. Lisa currently lives in Coronado, California with her husband and two children (ages 9 and 11).

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