April 16, 2015 — by Jennifer Howat

Alive To Thrive: Living and Laboring From Our Jesus Shaped Identity

ECO is committed to building flourishing churches that make disciples of Jesus Christ, but no church can flourish and multiply unless its leaders and people are thriving in their relationships with Jesus. That’s why the first value of ECO is foundational to life and ministry. Jesus-shaped Identity: We believe Christ must be at the center of our lives and making disciples of Jesus at the core of our ministry.

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April 13, 2015 — by Joy & Thomas Boone

Sveiki From Klaipeda, Lithuania!

Sveiki  from Klaipeda, Lithuania, to our ECO brothers and sisters! We are Tom and Joy Boone, serving as missionaries through teaching at LCC International University. Tom is the chair of Theology and Joy teaches in the Business Department. Our work here began in August 2013, following a two-year season of discernment that involved leaving the PCUSA, visiting global Christians through The Outreach Foundation, doing pastoral training in remote areas of the world, and organizing an ECO church in Fountain Inn, SC.

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April 9, 2015 — by Dana Allin

ECO's Core Values: #1 Jesus Shaped Identity

Over the next several months, in preparation for our national gathering, we will be focusing our Thursday blog posts on ECO’s nine core values. We will spend a month of Thursdays on each of the values, where I will write an introductory blog post and then other authors will expand upon our Biblical understanding of the value for the next 3-4 weeks. We are excited to dig in together and pray that you will join us in this journey as we strive to stay connected until we see each other in person next January!

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April 1, 2015 — by Bill Young

Blessed To Be A Blessing

A couple of weeks ago I was part of a gathering for believers in Jesus who come from Muslim backgrounds, along with people working to take the good news to Muslims. A young woman from a difficult country in Asia thanked me profusely for being part of leadership for the conference. She said with tears in her eyes, “You don’t know how encouraging this is, to be with other people who share many of the struggles I face, and to know that there are people who care about us. Thank you so much!”

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March 30, 2015 — by Lisa Johnson

Discovering The Missing Piece

Since my ordination in 1999, I have worked as an Associate Pastor in 5 different Presbyterian churches. I have been attending session meetings monthly since I was 25 years old…and I have learned a few things along the way! In my first call out of seminary, fresh and idealized about church ministry, I eagerly joined the session in the leading of the church. I was excited to gather with godly men and women who had been called and equipped to serve the church as elders. I felt proud of these elders who had stepped up to serve church with their precious time and talents (without any monetary compensation such as I was receiving).

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March 19, 2015 — by Pete Santucci

Learning How To Become Missionaries

When I was in college, I started writing a short play based on the Zacchaeus story. There was a man in our church named Bill who stood at an awesome 6’10” and I thought it would be ironic to cast him as Zacchaeus. “A wee little man was he.” Not.

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March 16, 2015 — by Sarah Singleton

Unlearning Our Natural Independence

Today on the ECO blog, we are grateful to hear from Sara Singleton, the founding director of ELI, Elder Leadership Institute: a church leadership training program in the Reformed tradition. ELI develops and supports spiritual leadership for the church by training ruling elders (members of Session) together with their teaching elder (pastor).

Most of my Christian life has been remedial. Since the Fall, perhaps that’s true in some sense for all of us. There’s a lot that comes naturally that must be unlearned: simple things that stem from our inherited and inherent sin, as well as our living in a broken world. For example, take the common measure that is used for success. Deep in our bones, how many of us feel that success involves a modicum of recognition from others, some degree of comfort, a measure of financial security and a sense of personal satisfaction? But how did Jesus measure success? By doing His Father’s will. Period. In fact, Jesus said that he could do nothing by Himself, but only what he saw His Father doing (Jn 5:19). I don’t think for a second that Jesus couldn’t think about his mission, open his mouth to speak, or implement a plan that involved his disciples. It’s just that Jesus wouldn’t do anything apart from His Father’s will and the Spirit’s power. He could do nothing by Himself, otherwise, He wasn’t fully God: the eternal, unchanging, omnipresent God who is in perfect fellowship within the Godhead of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

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March 9, 2015 — by Dr. Laura Smit

Baptized in the Holy Spirit

How do I know whether or not i've received the Holy Spirit? That question troubled me a lot when I was young. Many of my junior high classmates were involved in the charismatic movement, and they had stories about signs and wonders that made me question whether my own experience of faith was really complete. After all, the New Testament often talks about baptism in the Holy Spirit as a specific event.

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March 5, 2015 — by Hannah Parmelee

Young Adult Evangelism & Discipleship

When I first started working with college students, ten years ago, I thought I needed to be “professionally cool.”  I knew from past experience that I wasn’t the regular “cool.”  I didn’t have the “it” my college or youth ministers had that made students flock to them.  So, fresh out of grad school and eager to impress, I tried to have all the answers, look the part of a professional, and draw students to me with my wisdom.  As you can guess, this approach failed miserably.

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March 2, 2015 — by Mark Patterson

Holding A Doctrine To Be True Vs. Living A True Doctrine

There is a profound difference between holding a doctrine to be true and living a true doctrine. We Presbyterians are, rightly so, rigorous in our Trinitarian understanding of God. We hold this doctrine to be essentially and vitally true. Yet we must acknowledge that sometimes our actual living of this doctrine is arguably more “binitarian” than Trinitarian. Regardless of word, we might declare our Trinitarian affirmations look more like “FATHER! SON! and Holy Spirit.” 

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February 26, 2015 — by Sarah Arnoult

Campus Ministry: Developing Student Leaders

Before my role as assistant to the Synod Executive at ECO, I spent three years as a missionary to college students on the Central Coast of California with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. In my short years working with this group of people I learned a lot (and failed a lot) about how to reach the 19.5 million college students that are in universities across the nation. If you are reading that number and thinking “Wow, that’s a ton of people!” and also thinking “We need to reach those students!!” let me offer you a few pointers that I learned during my time on campus.

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February 19, 2015 — by Barry Gray

Setting The Four Pillars Of The Church In Their Proper Order

Matthew tells us in 16:16 that God has built his Church on the rock of Peter’s confession that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Paul said, in Ephesians 2:20 that it is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the Chief Cornerstone.” And he goes on to explain in chapter 4:11-12: “It was he (Jesus) who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service (Italics mine), so that the body of Christ may be built up.”

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February 12, 2015 — by Anthony Ceder

Can I Have A Do-Over?

I recently saw the movie, “American Sniper” and I really enjoyed it. I am only bringing up Chris Kyle (the Navy SEAL upon whom the movie is based), not to argue for or against the righteousness of his life and vocation, but because I saw a little of myself in him. Specifically, I could relate to how difficult it was for him to be devoted to his family and a vocation he was 100% passion about. In the movie, Kyle was depicted as a man who loved his wife and children but was also frequently torn by how much he felt “needed” by his fellow soldiers. I have nothing critical to say about Kyle. I truly appreciate his service to our country. I don’t know if our military “needed” him as much as he thought they did, but when I watched him leave his family multiple times in tough moments to go back to Iraq to meet a “need”, I was reminded of my youth ministry days.

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February 5, 2015 — by Jim Gribnitz

Pastors & Parents: Shepherding The Next Generation Together

The relationship between parents and their church's youth ministry can be an interesting one. We often say that parents are primary. This is very true, but the church also plays a vital role in shaping the next generation. In our attempt to get the relationship between youth parents and youth pastors in sync, I have seen two extremes in my 15+ years of nextgen ministry...

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February 1, 2015 — by Rod Pinder

"You Didn't Get It Here"

"Amen!" The sound rang out from the back of the sanctuary when the preacher made a particularly salient point. Horrified ushers hurried to the scene of the crime and gently but firmly informed the visiting perpetrator, “We don’t do that sort of thing here. Please listen quietly during the sermon.”

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January 26, 2015 — by Dana Allin

"Like-Minded" Not "Same-Minded"

One of the key things I remember Jim Singleton saying at the first Fellowship gathering in Minneapolis was that Fellowship and ECO would be a collection of people who are like-minded but not same-minded. I think that distinction is the very component for what ECO strives to be. Rather than ruling from the boundaries and dictating non-essentials, ECO desires to hold at the center: a core theology that gives clarity to the movement.

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January 22, 2015 — by Rev. Eric O. Jacobsen

An ECO Synod Executive Council Update

Hi. My name is Eric Jacobsen, and in addition to being a pastor from Tacoma Washington, I am the President of the Synod Executive Council. I’m also a contributor to this blog, so if you are a regular reader, you may already know a bit about me and some of my random thoughts about life in ECO. Today, I wanted to combine two of these hats and use the blog forum to give you all an update from our latest meeting of the Council that took place just last week. Let me first introduce you to the members of the ECO Synod Executive Council:

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January 5, 2015 — by John Terech

2015: A Time For Growth And Maturity

Undoubtedly, over the past three years, the most heard phrase used in and about ECO has been, “building the plane in the air.”

Certainly, this phrase was very true of our start. We managed to get to this place: a denomination of over 170 congregations, over 250 pastors, and over 70,000 covenant partners, by putting things in place while we were moving. We moved very quickly. That’s quite an accomplishment in three years, let alone the actual time of two and a half years since the first congregation became a member of this thing called ECO.

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January 1, 2015 — by Dana Allin

Happy New Year, ECO friends!

Though it used to be even better when ALL college football games were on TV, New Year's day is still one of my favorite days. I love being able to not just celebrate the past, but also start fresh and make some adjustments that change the trajectory of my life. I also love New Year’s as a tangible reminder of what the Lord does for us every day.

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December 10, 2014 — by Dana Allin

Shift Five: From An "Addition/Subtraction Mentality" To A “Multiplication Mindset"

Stay tuned to the ECO blog


This fall our Thursday blogs are focused on the five shifts we've identified as significant for living out the mission and vision of ECO. Every third Thursday, Dana Allin writes specifically about one of these shifts, and then the following two Thursdays we hear from people within the ECO community who are living out that particular shift in their local contexts. Read Shift OneShift Two, Shift Three, and Shift Four.

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December 7, 2014 — by ECO Communications Team

The Most Wonderful Time of Year: A Savior Is Born For The World

The happiest time of the year

At long last, it's the most wonderful time of the year! The church calendar has caught up with the rest of our culture, who has been celebrating Christmas with its holiday-themed store displays and gingerbread lattes for weeks—if not a couple months! I'm thrilled to join with the kids jingle belling and everyone telling you, ‘be of good cheer’!

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November 30, 2014 — by Keith Hill

ECO and Egypt?!

A sister church in Egypt


Two weeks ago Fakhri Yacoub, Brian Stewart, my wife, Sarah, and I, had the privilege of representing ECO at the 150th anniversary of the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo. That was the event which occasioned our going, but our agenda was much broader—to build relationships with Presbyterians in one of the three nations ECO has selected for our global focus. More on that below, but first, some surprising “who knew?!” discoveries from our trip:

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