January 2, 2020 — by Dana Allin

Where Are You Called To Shine?

Have you taken your Christmas tree down yet?  We tend to put our Christmas tree and lights before most people in our neighborhood.  I love to enjoy these things for the full duration of the season. However, once the day after Christmas hits, I want to take all the stuff down.  (I would probably take it down right after Christmas dinner if I could!). I like to “clear to neutral” and get prepared for - and even get ahead for - the new year.

Read more

December 3, 2019 — by Dana Allin

A Flourishing ECO Church Prepares to Launch

In working with transforming churches, Paul Borden always starts with three principles (or assumptions) about his understanding of church. The first one is that the church is a living organism and every living organism GROWS and MULTIPLIES. As you know, when our children are born, we take them in to measure height and weight, and we track their progress as compared to other children their age. We make this correlation to the life of the church as well! A healthy church will grow in the quantity and quality of disciples. Usually churches are ready to embrace the concept that healthy things grow. What is more of a challenge for churches is to embrace is the concept that they should also multiply. Churches can become resistant to multiplication for a variety of reasons that usually stem around fear of losing people or resources to church plants.

Read more

November 4, 2019 — by Dana Allin

A Flourishing ECO Church Generates Multiplying Leaders

In my newsletter articles this past year I have been alternating between focusing on one of ECO’s values or one of the measures of a flourishing church. This month we will focus on our fifth flourishing church measure, “Generates Multiplying Leaders”. This measure defines that one of the qualities of a flourishing church is that it develops leaders who develop other leaders. The attached document shows the qualities of a flourishing church but also provides some questions for a church to evaluate their current health in each area.

Read more

November 4, 2019 — by Donald Marsden

Me and My House in Mission

We have long known that the family profoundly influences all its members. No other social institution comes close to having an impact on young people that way the family does.  Many parents seek out a church based on the quality of its discipling program for children and youth. However, research among adult Christians in the United States demonstrates that people of faith, when asked who influenced them in the growth of their faith most often answered “my mother.”  Other family members also rank very high in shaping the faith of young people. Research bears out that children are deeply affected by conversations about faith they have with family members. When children and parents go out into their community and into the world to serve together, the positive impact on the faith of a child is massive.  

Read more

September 30, 2019 — by Dana Allin

One Measure of a Flourishing Church: Our Mutual Spurring

I have been alternating newsletter topics between ECO’s flourishing church measures and our values. In the normal sequence, this month is focused on the value of Our Mutual Spurring (which is also the value we will be focusing on at our 2020 National Gathering in February).  However, I wanted to address this topic from a slightly different angle by focusing on some analysis of  our annual statistics. I am pleased to say that we have had a record percentage of congregations complete their statistical reports.  These reports are incredibly important because they help us to track trends and pinpoint needs in the denomination. 

Read more

September 30, 2019 — by ECO NEWS

Ministry On The Border | Reflection by Mia Franklin

A team of students from Hope Presbyterian Church in Richfield, Minnesota traveled to the South Texas border on a service-learning trip in partnership with Border Perspective. From volunteering at a local immigrant center to serving alongside immigrant pastors, these opportunities gave this team an eye-opening and first-hand look at ministry alongside immigrants communities. Mia Franklin, Youth Ministries Director of Discipleship and trip leader describes her team’s service-learning experience in South Texas.

Read more

September 6, 2019 — by Dana Allin

One Measure of A Flourishing Church: Expects Disciple-Making

 When I talk to pastors or sessions and I hear about the challenges they face, I often hear things like, “our giving is down” or “we don’t have enough volunteers” or “we are getting pushback to our worship change”. It’s partly my personality and partly my training to want to dig beneath the surface of a presenting challenge. I have learned to ask the “why” question. “Why are people giving you so much pushback to worship change?”

Read more

September 6, 2019 — by Greg Wagenfuhr

Discipleship is Vitally Theological

What would Jesus do? I was a teenager in youth group when those WWJD bracelets were popular. But I always thought it was a funny question. After all, when considering whether and whom to marry or even date, the question is totally useless. Jesus was intentionally single and celibate. WWJD is a question of discipleship. But what really does “following Jesus” mean? See, theology is vital! To understand what Jesus’ call to follow him meant, we have to understand his world a little bit. In those days people did not distinguish questions of morality from politics, economics, religion, or anything else.

Read more

August 16, 2019 — by Dana Allin

Reflection on Trip to Manila, Philippines

In June, I accepted an invitation to be part of the Lausanne Global Workplace Forum (GWF) in Manila, Philippines. I had the privilege of attending with 800 other attendees from 170 countries. It was a memorable conference for a couple of specific reasons.  

Read more

June 28, 2019 — by Dana Allin

What Does It Mean to Have a Livable Theology?

There are many aspects of our Reformed/Presbyterian tradition for which I am thankful. One aspect in particular is our focus on the life of the mind. We deeply value education, study, and wrestling with theological implications as we engage in present culture. There have certainly been weaknesses associated with this strength such as occasionally having an overly cerebral faith that doesn’t engage our heart and passion. Nevertheless, I am still thankful for the many benefits that come with valuing the mind.

Read more

June 28, 2019 — by Jen Haddox

Discovering Mission Affinity in Cuba

I recently listened in on a conversation with members of the Central Florida MAG group the week after they returned from a joint trip to Holguin, Cuba.  I share this story in hopes that the exciting energy from that conversation will serve as a witness to our ECO movement.

Read more

May 1, 2019 — by Dana Allin

Are You a Risk Taker?

I continue to find it helpful that we have identified and articulated the characteristics associated with being a flourishing church. As a reminder, the six elements have been a part of our conversations for several years, but in our vision framing process we were able to fine tune our language to help us have optimal clarity accessible to everyone (SEE HERE FOR VISION FRAME).

Read more

April 5, 2019 — by Dana Allin

What does ECO’s Value “The Complete Local” Really Mean?

I continue to be grateful at the positive feedback we are getting around the vision frame that was presented at our 2019 National Gathering.  I certainly understand some of the questions that have arisen in response to vision frame, and those questions are usually easily addressed. The clear majority of what we hear is excitement at the clarity of language and the boldness of ECO’s direction.  

Read more

April 5, 2019 — by ECO NEWS

Global Engagement: Pars Trip Reflection

By Jon Heering, Pastor at First Presbyterian Church, Harrisonburg, VA
I have always loved the gospel account of Peter walking (briefly) on water and so I have also loved the song “Oceans” with the refrain “… Let me walk upon the waters, Wherever You would call me.  Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, And my faith will be made stronger, ...” Now in many ways the song is a prayer, even as Peter’s, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” (Matthew 14:28) was a prayer and the kind of prayer our Lord loves to answer in the affirmative.  

Read more

April 5, 2019 — by ECO NEWS

World Renew Joins Cyclone Idai Response

March 29, 2019—World Renew is responding to the enormous needs of families affected by Cyclone Idai in southern Africa. Thousands of people throughout the region are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. World Renew is raising funds to provide life-saving assistance to families in Malawi and Mozambique. “Across southern Africa, this crisis is only beginning,” said Kenneth Kim, World Renew’s Director of International Disaster Response. “The immediate needs, including food, shelter, and clean water, are huge. However, there are also long-term concerns. Food stocks and crops have been wiped out, leaving families with few paths to recovery.”

Read more

March 18, 2019 — by -

The New Rules of Generational Giving

By Jake Wilson, TPF Relationship Manager
Like everything else in this world, charitable giving continues to change. What's causing the continued evolution? That would be the difference in the way different generations give to their churches and favorite charities. 
Read more

March 5, 2019 — by Dana Allin

The Power of Clarifying Mission and Values

I was at a session meeting a few weeks ago with a church that had re-worked their values and mission within the last three years.  In the meeting I asked, “What are your mission and values?” I didn’t mean for it to be a trick question, however, only one person in the room could get close to naming the elements.  I don’t blame them! This lack of clarity happens more often than not. Congregations go through a process to develop good or even great statements. However, as time goes by, those statements are not even known by the people, let alone lived out in the life of the church.  

Read more

February 11, 2019 — by Dana Allin

The Next Decade for ECO

Our 2019 ECO National Gathering has now come and gone! I loved getting to be with the almost 1000 pastors, lay leaders, staff members and covenant partners who came to Colorado Springs the last week in January.   One of the most encouraging parts of our movement to me is that we have so many people gather each year to learn, be encouraged, inspired, challenged, and to have fellowship with one another. I love that even in non-business meeting years we see congregations bring larger numbers from their staffs and congregations to help get everyone more broadly connected to ECO.

Read more

January 4, 2019 — by Dana Allin

What is your Flourishing Next Step in 2019?

I have probably said this before in a January newsletter, but the new year is probably my favorite time of year. I always like to take some time between Christmas and New Year’s Day to think and pray about  my life and ministry. I love looking back at the past year and reflecting upon God’s call for the coming year.

Read more

December 4, 2018 — by Dana Allin

What to Expect When You’re Expecting….a Church Plant

When my wife Beth was pregnant with our first child, Micah (who is now 14), we had a lot of people who loved, cared for, and supported us as we were preparing to be parents.  Everybody had opinions on how to take care of oneself during pregnancy as well as how to raise a child.

Read more

November 2, 2018 — by Dana Allin

Reflecting our Communities: How Can We Be Better?

I continue to be both inspired and overwhelmed by the challenges and opportunities that stand before our movement.  There are some obvious issues that include working toward the revitalization of our churches, the ability of our churches to plant vibrant churches, and of course developing a greater quantity and quality of lay and vocational leaders who will be able to lead, plant, and revitalize these congregations.  Within these broad issues are some extremely important factors that need to be present.

Read more

November 2, 2018 — by Anna Kent

Give your MAG an ECO BOOST!

It’s been great to work with a number of our ECO presbyteries who are incorporating MAG experiences into their presbytery gatherings.  I’ve been asked by a couple of folks how to keep the momentum going, so I wanted to share a few steps. These don’t have to be done in order (except I always think prayer is the best place to start).   

Read more

October 2, 2018 — by Dana Allin

Three Questions to Help You Take Your Flourishing Next Step

If you have been reading ECO newsletters or have been at a place where one of the ECO staff has given a presentation, you have probably heard the phrase, “Flourishing Next Step.”  The concept of Flourishing Next Step is that every church and every leader will identify where and how God is calling them to grow for greater flourishing. We do not dictate what that Flourishing Next Step is, but rather give tools and resources to help discern where God is uniquely calling you and your church to grow.

Read more