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. 

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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.

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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?”

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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.

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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.  

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.  

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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.  

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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.”

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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. 
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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.  

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).   

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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.

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July 3, 2018 — by Dana Allin

Reflecting on ECO's Engagement on Current Issues

It seems as if there is an ever-increasing number of statements being made by organizations, denominations and associations.  I am not sure if I am simply more aware of what is happening because of the nature of my denominational role, or if there is truly is an increase in these statements. Most recently was the outcry over the policy for the separation of families at the border.  During this situation, we received a few e-mails asking or encouraging ECO to make a statement against the policy. As time passed, the policy got reversed, perhaps due to the outcry. While there are still families that need to be reunited, the immediacy that was felt to make a statement has passed.

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July 3, 2018 — by ECO NEWS

Global Missions With Your Local Community

Have you ever wanted to be involved in global missions but are unable to join an international mission trip? Are you financially and prayerfully supporting a global mission organization but do not feel connected to whom you are partnering with? Since poverty consists of broken relationships, how do we be in a righteous relationship with the “least of these”, our brothers and sisters in need around the world?

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June 5, 2018 — by Dana Allin

Connecting with the Global Church - Iranians in London

Last month, I had the privilege of traveling with The Outreach Foundation to learn about the Iranian church in London. The focus of the trip was on the diaspora church, meaning Iranians who left their home country, either voluntarily or involuntarily. We also learned about how God was working inside of the country of Iran through the underground house church movement, and in those outside of the country.

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June 5, 2018 — by Anna Kent

Podcasts to Build your Spiritual Leadership

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get a bit overwhelmed by all the information available to us through various social media outlets. I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. On the one hand, I can waste precious time reading through posts of my friends. On the other hand, it keeps me up-to-date on what is going on in people’s lives who I may not talk to frequently, but still care about. It helps me to know how to be praying for folks, and for that, I am thankful.

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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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