February 29, 2016 — by Travis Fletcher

STRIVE 2016: "Strive For Something Greater"

After the ECO gathering ended, I drove over to the back bay (I called the back bay, a native friend of mine instructed me facetiously, “because there’s no such thing as canals or ditches in southern California.”) from St. Andrew's and took a run along the trails.  It was a gorgeous, sunny day, and I felt simulatenously drained (from the long days and lots of time with my “extrovert” hat on) and energized by the week together with the ECO family.

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February 22, 2016 — by Dana Allin

STRIVE Blog Series

We are so grateful for the many powerful and exciting ways in which God was at work at ECO's STRIVE national gathering in January! We had a wonderful time together in worship, connecting with friends and colleagues from across the country, and learning from so many effective ministry leaders from both within and outside of our tribe.

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February 18, 2016 — by Eric Laverentz

Being All Things To All People

After our staff devotional on Tuesday, I polled the group about their favorite and least favorite Super Bowl commercials. The favorite was a mixed bag, but least favorite, overwhelmingly, was the infamous “Puppy Monkey Baby” commercial. It generated a nearly visceral reaction among the staff.

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February 8, 2016 — by Lisa Johnson

STRIVE: A New Journey Has Just Begun!

It was wonderful to be with many of you at the “Strive” National Convention in Newport Beach.  I was so encouraged and inspired by the gathering of the body of Christ to worship and the excellent teaching we received. Dana’s words: “We’ve built a denomination, now let’s start a movement” have been echoing in my ears since the Gathering.  So many of you travelled long journeys to become a part of ECO. You might be weary and the temptation is to say “We’ve arrived.” But becoming a part of ECO means that your new journey has just begun!

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January 25, 2016 — by Becky Lahna

Church Planting: The Place Where Vision And Burden Meet

Six years ago I had a conversation that profoundly impacted me and my understanding of calling.  The context: I had been studying the Bible with a college student for a few weeks.  She did not identify as a Christian but was eager to learn more about Jesus.  We were looking at the story of Jesus’ death on the cross in Luke 23.  As we read through the passage, I watched her body language change.  She sank back in her chair; shoulders turned in and head down.  “What’s wrong?” I asked.  “If Jesus really is God and he died, what good is it for us?  That’s a terrible end to the story.”  A light bulb came on for me.  It was an aha! moment.  I realized that she had never heard the end of the story.  She didn’t know that Jesus was raised from the dead!  She didn’t know the Good News of Easter.  And how could she unless someone told her?

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January 18, 2016 — by Matthew Lee

Vision for ECO Church Planting

As I begin my new role and ministry at ECO, I am excited and hopeful for what God will do in and through the individuals and churches of this denomination. I love the fact that so many ECO churches and pastors have a heart to see new churches started and their neighborhood, towns, and cities transformed by the Gospel. I also love the de-centralized emphasis where congregations have the primary ownership and responsibility to plant churches versus the denomination. This vision will not only empower local churches to have more “skin in the game,” but will also foster a greater culture of multiplication.

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January 7, 2016 — by Candice Barry

Being Incarnational In The Workplace

John 1:14 says "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Now, take a deep breath and go back and read it again. Whether that was the first or the hundredth time you have read that verse, take a second to think about how huge that is. It is the good news. Jesus, who was with the Father, saw value in us and chose to make his dwelling among us. Wow. If we believe that to be true, then it stands to reason that our lives should point others to his glory, grace, and truth. The light that we shine must ultimately point to the source that is Christ. So, what does it look like to take the posture of Jesus in the workplace? I am no expert on the topic, but I am very humbled to be able to share my story.

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January 4, 2016 — by Dana Allin

ECO's Ninth Core Value: Kingdom Vitality

I often wrestle with communicating ECO's vision, culture, ethos, and DNA to the average covenant partner (member) in our congregations.  Members will hear about ECO when their churches are considering affiliating with ECO, and during that time they have specific questions that need to be addressed.  Yet in other circumstances it seems that our message doesn’t filter to the congregation. 

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December 14, 2015 — by Dan Aument

Incarnating Jesus

This last year, my wife Leslie and I moved to Austin, Texas to plant an incarnational church using the missional community model.  We want to experiment with new ways of doing church and discipleship in order to reach young people.  We’ve had some early progress making friends and sharing our vision, but we are a long way away from knowing if we’ve succeeded.  We’re investing a lot of time and energy and – as I’m sure you can imagine – we really want it to work out.

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December 2, 2015 — by Dana Allin

Leadership Velocity

I believe all of our values are incredibly important to the future of the ECO movement.  I do think, however, that there are a few values that are foundational to the success of the rest of them.  Leadership Velocity is one of those foundational values that determines our ability to live out the rest of the values.  Leadership Velocity states, “We believe identifying and developing gospel-centered leaders is critical for the church, and a great leadership culture is risk-taking, innovative, and organic.”  

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November 25, 2015 — by Kristen McWilliams

Coaching: A Framework For Ministry

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus often uses questions to engage those around Him. As someone who truly delights in questions, it is encouraging to see that Jesus values them as well. Intentional questions have a way of gently unearthing that which is settled beneath the surface, creating connections, and developing great purpose. Additionally, when questions are coupled with prayer as a way of understanding God’s plan for our lives, the outcome can be of cosmic proportions. This process has engendered a love of coaching in me. Coaching, in a Christian setting, creates space to ask questions like Jesus did, to pray with another, to demonstrate the love of Jesus, and to glorify Him in the process.

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November 16, 2015 — by John Terech

Coaching And Accountability

Early in 2009, I was introduced to coaching through Dana Allin as he brought CoachNet (then under the direction of Bob Logan) into our presbytery as a way of transforming culture, deepening discipleship, and ultimately helping people reach their goals.  I started training immediately and have continued with my own development as well as developing others.  Dana clearly defined what coaching is in his recent blog on the subject.  

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November 9, 2015 — by Amber Ayers

Creating a Coaching Culture

My first understanding of a coach brought to mind a swim workout on the whiteboard of a pool deck: 200 free, 200 kick, 200 pull, 10 x 100s free on 1:30, 5 x 200s IM on 3:30. This was the athletic language I spoke as a young swimmer and learned to speak fluently as a swim coach in my early twenties. But a decade later in 2013, through a leadership initiative with ECO, I was introduced to coaching in the context of ministry. This form of coaching has helped me make a few language adjustments and see the incredible value of the coaching relationship. And along the way, I found my sweet spot in ministry.

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November 8, 2015 — by Dana Allin

Coaching And Ministry

Coaching has been one of the most valuable skills that I have gained in the last 15 years since I graduated from seminary.  I was first exposed to coaching during my Doctorate of Ministry course work at Fuller Seminary. Bob Logan, then the head of CoachNet International Ministries, was the instructor for a course called “Raising and Multiplying Leaders in your Ministry.”  In this course, we got a brief exposure to the art of coaching and how to use the skill when working with emerging leaders, staff, committees/teams, and even family members. I was convinced at that point that coaching was was extremely powerful in almost any situation where people want to increase in their effectiveness and vitality. Since that time, I have been increasing my skills and training to become more effective. When I was called to the Synod Executive role with ECO, I knew coaching was something that could have a profound effect in the life of our movement. If we could create a coaching culture, I knew we could grow in effectiveness. To that end, John Terech and I recently received additional accreditation through the International Coach Federation (ICF) which is the primarily regulating group for coaching.

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November 6, 2015 — by Dana Allin

Center-Focused Spirituality

As we continue through the blogs of our values we will take the next several weeks to look at the 7th value “Center-Focused Spirituality”. This value says “We believe in calling people to the core of what it means to be followers of Jesus – what “mere Christianity” is and does, and not fixate on the boundaries.”  

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November 5, 2015 — by Don Feuerbach

Living Room Ministry

I’m not sure if there is anyone in the church world who hasn’t heard the word missional. Maybe like you, I have read a lot of books about missional church. I understood what they were saying. I agreed that in some circumstances the church had lost its focus; that sometimes we are more concerned about attracting people to worship services than anything else.

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November 2, 2015 — by Tim Fearer

Asking The Good Question: Discipleship and Coaching

I recently heard a preacher quote Paul’s injunction to Timothy, “...and what you have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well”  (II Timothy 2:2).  Among other things the preacher was supporting the idea that discipling is all about one person giving something to another person which the latter does not possess.  Right.  People don’t know what they don’t know.  Core aspects of acquiring a Christian faith and identity involve one person receiving something from another – from outside oneself. This is a central dimension of Christianity as a “revealed” religion, and a central dimension of discipling relationships - but there is more to be said. 

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October 29, 2015 — by Katie Fowler

Becoming A Missional Church

We haven’t figured it out yet. This shift from being an established, primarily attractional church to one that lives as a missional church. We are still in process. I think that is actually okay. The danger is actually in thinking we have arrived, that we have somehow checked all the boxes and figured it all out. I was reminded recently that the missional movement is not simply about “doing” something (although action is of course imperative!), but to live as a missional church is primarily about “being.”

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October 26, 2015 — by Mark DeYmaz

Flourishing Multi-ethnic Churches for the Sake of the Gospel

On May 17, 2001, after eighteen years of student ministry experience, my wife, Linda, and I responded in prayer to a very specific call of God on our lives. That day, we committed ourselves and our family to a journey of faith, courage, and sacrifice that would lead to the establishment of a multi-ethnic and economically diverse church in the heart of Central Arkansas—a church for others, for all people - a church we called Mosaic.

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October 22, 2015 — by Don Everts

Missional Centrality in the Local Church

For seven years now I’ve been watching my suburban church fall in love with mission.  We’ve begun to leave behind the out-dated myths that tell us (the local church) to merely write checks and leave it to the real professionals to do missions.  We’re listening more to those who remind us that missions “…is the distinctive mark of being a Christian.” (As the great Scottish preacher, James S. Stewart put it.)

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October 19, 2015 — by Jeff Vanderstelt

There Is A Race: Let The Training Begin

A few years back a friend of mine challenged me to run the Chicago Marathon with him. I’d never run a race before, but my competitive edge led me to take on the challenge, and I got to work. I never trained so hard in my life. Hours of my days were devoted to getting into shape and preparing. I ordered running magazines, researched workout plans, learned about proper diet, was schooled on shoe tech, and even discovered how important it is to think about proper clothing. I became a disciple of marathons because I was going to run one.

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October 13, 2015 — by Rev. Eric O. Jacobsen

A Different Kind Of Church

“We are a church that aspires to exist for the sake of those who are not already part of our fellowship”.  This is the first line of the first set of five plumb lines that we recently adopted to help guide us towards the future to which we are being called.

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September 24, 2015 — by ECO NEWS

Egalitarian Ministry: Multi-Ethnic Learning Community

We strongly desire to grow in our ethnic diversity, but realize that if we are to fully live out our 5th core value of egalitarian ministry: unleashing the invaluable gifts of every ethnic group, we must seek assistance from those on the outside who have expertise in this area. One of the ways ECO has taken steps forward is by purchasing a Multi-Ethnic Learning Community cohort from Exponential for 25 participants. Interested in participating? We have great news: spots are still available!

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September 24, 2015 — by Aluu Williams Nnal

Egalitarian Ministry: Embracing Every Ethnic Group

God must have a good sense of humor. Otherwise what would make God assign a die-hard multi-culturalist and integrationist to an ethnic and particularistic ministry? My conviction that God’s ideal church is united, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-national, informed my decision to investigate factors affecting the integration of English speaking African immigrants into English speaking, Caucasian North American congregations in my dissertation. Therefore, it was a bit of a challenge in 2006 when I was called to be the founding pastor of First African Presbyterian Church Houston, Texas, an ethnic church whose founding vision is to reach Africans in Houston area and provide an avenue where they will worship God in African way.

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September 16, 2015 — by ECO NEWS

Stories From The Mission Field

Earlier this year we moved from the Middle East to North Africa where only 1 in 11,000 people know the Father. In fact, few people have any access to the gospel. This means that if a random person in this country wanted to learn about our Savior, there would probably not be anyone to tell him. There would not be a church or bookstore to visit where they could ask or learn about Jesus. How then will people learn? Probably through an encounter with someone like us who are here to share the Good News. 

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