Here are some general questions about international, cross-cultural mission service. If you have other general questions that aren’t list here, contact Jen Haddox, ECO Director of Global Engagement. Also contact her to suggest other questions to include here:
1) How does global mission fit with being a missional church?
2) Where can we find missionaries our church can support?
3) I believe God is calling me (or someone in our church) to serve as a missionary. What do I do?
4) How can we be involved in ECO global mission? Does ECO send missionaries? Does ECO have ways to support global mission efforts?
5) What is ECO doing to help churches engage in global mission?
6) What about partnerships with churches in other parts of the world, especially our historic Presbyterian partners?
Global mission is one part of God’s mission in the world, in which we are called to participate. God calls us to mission in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and in all the rest of the world. God is calling together worshippers from every tongue, tribe, people and language. That is happening today, both in our own country and throughout the world, and we are privileged to be part of what God is doing. So our global efforts are one part of being missional!
Several options are available for finding missionaries to support. Besides many other agencies that are out there, our three partner organizations have opportunities for you.
One implication of not having a denominational structure is that missionaries from ECO congregations will not be sent by ECO as a denomination. That is one reason our relationship with The Antioch Partners is so important. The best place to start is by checking out their web site, www.theantiochpartners.org, or by calling them at (713) 490-9571. They can help with discerning your call and answer your questions. Their focus is on helping you get where God wants you to be, with all that involves!
ECO plans to have an exciting new approach to its international mission focus. Like ECO as a whole, we want this to reflect our vision to build flourishing churches that make disciples of Jesus Christ. How can we do international mission in a new way as a denomination, while drawing on the strengths of the Presbyterian history of mission? Also like ECO as a whole, this is something we will be making up as we go along! But we do have two starting points, two statements that ECO leaders have been emphasizing, which we are now beginning to flesh out.
First, ECO is encouraging churches to continue with their present international ministry. We are not setting up our own ECO international ministry agency or structure to which we would then ask congregations to switch their support. Rather, we know that many of you are already involved in exciting things that God is doing around the world. Keep it up! Our goal will be to help you be more effective in your kingdom ministry, not to set up our own and ask you to support it.
Second, some congregations may want to get involved in some type of “ECO” international ministry. We are working with our partner organizations (Frontier Fellowship, The Outreach Foundation, and The Antioch Partners) to develop three different foci, through which they will provide us ECO-specific opportunities to be part of what God is doing. These opportunities will reflect the overall ECO focus on innovative church planting, and the intention is that they will help inspire us to new and creative ways of further engagement in our own communities. Part of my role will be to coordinate with the organizations and help ECO congregations be aware of how they can be involved.
Frontier Fellowship will help us with a frontier mission focus in the Middle East, reaching out to unreached peoples from several countries through one location.
The Outreach Foundation will help us connect with a denomination in India that comes out of early Presbyterian work; they want to increase their church planting efforts.
And, besides serving ECO as a sending organization, The Antioch Partners will help us with a focus on Business as Mission.
There are other agencies that are more directly involved in ministry that have relationships with our congregations as well. We encourage you to continue working with them. We will be working on ways to help you share what you are doing with other congregations and work together where it makes sense. And we will be lifting up a few special opportunities for ECO churches through some of those organizations.
In early 2015 we surveyed all the churches that were in ECO at that point, concerning their global mission engagement. Out of that survey three primary areas of need became clear. We are addressing those through a series of FAQ web pages, along with other resources. You can find those here. In addition, we are working on ideas as laid out in other general FAQs. We are also working toward finding global advocates in each presbytery, who can serve as two-way communication agents and can also learn from each other how presbyteries can help congregations.
ECO’s local church-based focus, with a small Synod structure, means approaching this question from a different perspective than we have in the past. Our desire is to build international relationships in ways that enhance the mission of local churches. For example, one primary focus for us will be to form relationships that enhance church-planting efforts of both ECO and our international partners. We will be working out this and other aspects as we go along, but we are committed to relationships with other parts of the body of Christ.