January 8, 2014 — by Len Tang

Is There a Secret Sauce to Making Disciples?

What is the smallest unit of disciple-making?


We typically think of congregations as the primary context where people meet Jesus, mature and are sent out in mission. I’m curious if that’s where you see disciple-making happening. Or, for instance, missional communities are emerging as a significant approach to becoming and making disciples. A missional community is a sort of tweener group - smaller than a congregation but larger than a small group. Or is the most effective context for making disciples even smaller? Some advocate 1-on-1 mentoring relationships. Neil Cole’s answer is a triad - a group of three men or three women who meet weekly to focus on Scripture, confession and prayer for unbelievers. He calls these little groups “Life Transformation Groups” and has seen them grow and spread virally. Or what if we simply focused on our families with parents discipling their children into the ways of Christ? If our families aren’t disciple-making entities, then how can the church be?

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January 6, 2014 — by ECO Communications Team

Meet John Terech: A Story of Coming to Faith

john terechWe are pleased to announce John Terech as ECO's new Director of Operations. John is tremendously gifted, bringing more than 20 years of leadership experience in finance, administration, and ministry. In this new role, John will assist Brenda Smith (our COO, who is stepping back to part-time) in financial, legal, and insurance operations. He will also support Dana Allin (Synod Executive) in ecclesiastical operations, including resourcing congregations and presbyteries. But what we love most about John is his heart for ministry and love for Jesus. Here, in John's own words, is some of his story — including how both personal and national tragedy awakened him spiritually. 

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December 25, 2013 — by Dana Allin

Following the Holy Spirit to the Middle East

book-coverDavid Garrison has a new book coming out in January 2014 called A Wind in the House of Islam. In this book he looks at Christian movements in the Muslim world. He classifies a movement as at least 1,000 baptisms or 100 new churches started from one source. He notes there have only been a handful of such movements from 1600-1980. However in the last 20 years there have been 70 well documented independent movements of this magnitude. His point? The Sprit of God is blowing in some unique and powerful ways in the Muslim world.

Exploring partnerships for ECO in the Middle East


Earlier this month I had the opportunity to travel with a few others to the Middle East on a vision trip to see how ECO might be called to join with the Holy Spirit in this movement in the Muslim world. We met with many pastors, church planters, and Christian business leaders to learn first hand what God was doing. There were several things I was amazed by.

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December 23, 2013 — by Rev. Mateen Elass

Love With All You Got

duck-dynasty-logo-fontduck-dynasty-nation---for-all-dd-fans-u1eln4rjMost people, Christian or not, would agree with Jesus’ summation of God’s will: “Love the Lord with all you got, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Many people, whether Christian or not, tend to not focus as much on the first command; but most everyone expresses an opinion about how to love others and whether or not that is being practiced well by others.

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December 15, 2013 — by Keith Hill

How Do You Identify Your ECO Church?

How do you identify your ECO church?


Some ECO congregations have had to change signs and website banners because the old denominational seal was part of their “look.” At St. Giles we didn’t face that problem, but we figured with a new season it was time to rethink what we usually take for granted – our “look” in the public eye.

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December 8, 2013 — by Len Tang

Faith is spelled R-I-S-K

Taking RIsksMoving towards risk


Advent is the season in which we celebrate the reality that God made himself vulnerable, that He put Himself at risk by becoming a newborn in Bethlehem. Recently, I read an article by Mark Labberton that helped me recognize that risk-taking is part and parcel of God’s nature. Through creating autonomous human beings as well as through the incarnation, God took incredible risks to open up the possibility of relationship. And so we mimic God as well as trust in God by taking risks for His sake.

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November 26, 2013 — by ECO Communications Team

Thanksgiving Hymn

This Thanksgiving Hymn was written by Rev. Dr. Richard Gibbons from First Presbyterian Church of Greenville, SC. Last week while traveling with colleagues in China he penned this hymn to share with his congregation on Thanksgiving weekend. You too are warmly invited to use this hymn this weekend.

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November 24, 2013 — by Keith Hill

The Master's Surprising Music

A tired, worn out instrument


piano keysThe piano was a dilapidated upright with a badly stained keyboard, and screws holding many of its ivories in place. Its volume pedal was stuck, and several of its keys were missing strings. The hammer felts had long since worn thin, which gave it a tinny sound.

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November 20, 2013 — by Dana Allin

"What Gets Measured Gets Done."

“What gets measured gets done.”

Peter Ducker was the one who coined this phrase and over the years, I have found this principle very helpful, especially in how I have seen it applied within the life of a congregation.

Measuring Growth

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November 17, 2013 — by Rev. Eric O. Jacobsen

Standing Up to Quiet Down

"Local Churches Leave Denomination Over Homosexuality"


stepping upThis is a headline I've been dreading ever since my church began the discernment process to determine whether we should leave our denomination. The last thing I want is for our congregation to be known in the community as "the church that hates gay people." For a church in a city that was recently voted “The Gayist City in America,” such a reputation could have a negative impact on our mission.

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November 11, 2013 — by Rev. Mateen Elass

Learning to Make Disciples

One year ago, a dear member of my congregation gave me a book. It sat on my office desk until last week, when I finally opened it and began reading. I only wish I hadn’t let it sit so long.

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November 3, 2013 — by Keith Hill

Known for What?

In ten years what will ECO be known for? According to our “Who We Are” statements, we’ll be known for:


  • building flourishing churches that make disciples of Jesus Christ

  • baptizing more than we bury

  • a missional pattern of church life

  • and our new church planting passion


praise worship

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October 28, 2013 — by Dr. Laura Smit

Meeting Jesus at His Table

What exactly is happening when we come to the Lord’s table and celebrate the sacrament of Communion? This is one of those issues about which Christians disagree passionately. We can think of all the many understandings of the sacrament as falling into three groups.

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October 7, 2013 — by Rev. Mateen Elass

How Much Do I Trust Jesus?

How much do I trust Jesus? Well, that depends. When He says things that fit with my views and priorities, I am happy to call Him my Lord and Savior. When He says things that my conscience sides with, even though I don’t want to hear them, I trust that He must be right. But when He says things that would mean radical change for my life and comfort, then I don’t trust Him. Not really. Even though I say I do, and want others to believe that I do, my lifestyle does not greatly reflect Jesus’ teachings. I know I’m not alone.

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September 30, 2013 — by Len Tang

A Vision for a Church Planting Pipeline

All of us want to participate in something bigger than ourselves, to be connected not only to a congregation but to a movement — to be part of advancing God's Kingdom. Church planting is a way for every leader and congregation to be connected to and invested in proclaiming Christ around the country.

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September 26, 2013 — by Dr. Laura Smit

The Church as Community: How Big Is It?

This semester, I’m teaching “The Holy Spirit and the Church.” Our primary textbook is Exploring Ecclesiology: An Evangelical and Ecumenical Introduction by Brad Harper and Paul Louis Metzger. I really like that the chapters come in pairs, first a chapter on a theological idea, then a chapter of case study exploring the relevance of that idea to everyday life in the American church.

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September 23, 2013 — by Keith Hill

Renovating Even As We Move In

My first pastoral call was to the First Presbyterian Church of Winnfield, a little town in the piney woods of northern Louisiana. The manse next door to the church was built about 1900. It was one of those beautiful old southern homes, with a wide wrap-around porch with a swing. Before the church secured it for a manse, the house was the office for a timber company.

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September 19, 2013 — by Rev. Mateen Elass

Building a New Denomination: More than Just Nimble Structure

In light of the multiple thousands of denominations existing over and against Jesus’s prayer that “they may be one,” the creation of yet another denomination must come with strong justifications. While I believe that ECO has such justifications for coming into being, there is one common refrain which seems to me dangerously misleading and ultimately destructive.

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May 5, 2013 — by ECO Communications Team

ECO Blog: Coming Soon

The ECO Blog will be a forum to share news, updates, and stories from both ECO leaders and member churches. We look forward to launching the ECO blog in the coming weeks. Thank you for your patience.

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