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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September 16, 2015 — by Becci Curtis-Lillie

Egalitarian Ministry: Women in Church Leadership

The summer before my 10th grade year in high school, my family moved halfway across the state to (what I considered) the “Middle of Nowhere.”  It felt like the worst possible thing you could do to a teenage girl.  And while my first year in our new hometown was pretty rough, I also found some relief and some hope in connecting with a new church, a new youth pastor, and a new bible study leader.  God used these amazing people to transform my heart and my life.  And it was then that I knew that I wanted to be used by God in similar ways to help transform other people’s lives for the better.

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September 14, 2015 — by Jeff Ritchie

Reality Check: Reflections from the Ruins of Ancient Ephesus

I have just been to Turkey for a family wedding. My brother, whose son was the one getting married, suggested that we go early and visit some of the biblical sites. Our itinerary included Ephesus and Miletus, featured prominently in Acts 18-20. Our guide was well-versed in both the general history and in the biblical history. He made Paul and his missionary band come alive for us on a sweltering August day. (Note to readers: try a fall visit to Ephesus. The weather is much more pleasant!)

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September 10, 2015 — by Jerry Fourroux

Egalitarian Ministry: Women in Church Leadership

Both men and women are important to the Church. This sentence doesn’t seem like it should be shocking or even necessary to state, but years of church history deem it necessary. For years, women in churches have been treated as second-class citizens. They have been marginalized to women’s and children’s ministry and the Church of Jesus Christ has suffered because of it.

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August 31, 2015 — by Denise Sciuto

Education In A Place Of Crisis

Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship (PFF) helps churches focus on the 2.5 billion people who have no way to learn about God’s love and grace through Jesus. This focus connects us to people in some of the poorest and most oppressive places in the world—such as among the unreached people in Darfur, Sudan.   

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August 25, 2015 — by Dana Allin

ECO's Fifth Core Value: Egalitarian Ministry

I love how our 5th Core Value, Egalitarian Ministry, encompasses both our commitment to upholding the roles of women in all aspects of the church, as well as the need to deploy, celebrate, and support leaders from every ethnicity.

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August 13, 2015 — by Kirsten Berry

ECO Mission Affinity Group Q&A

We conclude this month's blog focus on Accountable Community with an excellent viewpoint of the inner workings of an ECO Mission Affinity Group.  Kirsten Berry is an Elder at Hope Presbyterian Church in Richfield, Minnesota.  Hope Church has joined with two other ECO churches in the greater Minneapolis area – Faith Church and Prairie Community Church and met for the first time on May 9th.  Following is a Q&A with Kirsten about her experience.

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August 7, 2015 — by Anna Kent

Accountable Community Through MAGs

Advocate: The dictionary[1] might define the term like: a person who speaks or writes in support of or in defense of a person, cause, etc. or a person who pleads for or in behalf of another.   I love the idea of an advocate, particularly because John makes reference to it in relation to Christ ~ My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.  (I John 2:1)  In ECO, we have advocates that help us in our work as followers of The Advocate

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August 6, 2015 — by Donald Marsden

Missions: Faith And Fellowship

At a mission conference I attended around 1991, a theme emphasized was this: “The church that really believes in mission does not only send money to support mission, but also sends its children into the mission field.” I’ve been pondering this theme since attending the New Wilmington Mission Conference late in July. NWMC has been meeting every summer since 1906. Its purpose is to ignite in young people an understanding of and passion for serving Jesus in global mission. 

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July 30, 2015 — by Claire Ripley

Coming Together: ECO Mission Affinity Groups

Return on Investment: We live in a world that measures the benefit of every investment by its performance and potential payoff. These are busy times for church leaders. While some may be hoping to squeeze in one more break this summer, most are ramping up to meet the demands of a hectic fall schedule. Commitments and calendars weigh heavy on our minds. Trying to plan an “extra” meeting where three or four sessions gather seems like an impossible task, which quite frankly may just not seem that valuable. Is being in a Missional Affinity Group really worth our time and effort?

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July 30, 2015 — by Tim Fearer

Building Flourishing Churches that Make Disciples

The mission of ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians is to build flourishing churches that make disciples of Jesus Christ.” Our mission statement is a declaration of who we aspire to be and increasingly become. It is a single sentence that defines the “business” we are in. It is an over-arching, controlling idea that should determine and then evaluate all we are about.

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July 27, 2015 — by Rob WeinGartner

Partnerships Are Hard: A Letter Of Encouragement

There is a lot of talk these days about doing mission in partnership.  It is driven, in part, by an increasing awareness of the growing global church and respect for the initiative and faithfulness of brothers and sisters in Christ who are already engaged in mission in places where we are or seek to be involved.

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June 29, 2015 — by TomHawker

Responding to the Call

After 40+ years working in the financial world as a banker, I retired in 2008. Given the chaos from the meltdown of the financial system, my plans for post-retirement activities were upended. I wondered what I would do, given I was healthy and had garnered a boatload of experience.

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