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.Read more
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:Read more
What piece of furniture is the focal point of the average American home? It used to be the table. But now, it’s the TV.Read more
The past two years have been a fascinating journey for me. After interacting with and training hundreds of young as well as seasoned pastors in our Ministry Lab Network, one common challenge appears continually:Read more
I love this time of year. The calendar sets before us a bit of a reset as well as we celebrate the new year. As I reflect on 2014, I’m amazed at how quickly the year passed by!Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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 One, Shift Two, Shift Three, and Shift Four.
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’!Read more
The gospel is both missional and attractional. Therefore, when thinking about how our denomination and our churches can make this shift, we must see the gospel as being of first importance.Read more
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:
This past Sunday, our church gathered together to celebrate 18 years of Steve Hartman’s leadership, the retiring Senior Pastor of Third Church Richmond. As one who has worked along side him for nearly 10 years as an associate pastor, I’ve been reflecting on Steve’s leadership and what makes him an unusual and effective leader.
That thought branded itself in my mind last week as I returned from a trip to the Middle East with other ECO leaders. We traveled together to seek discernment as to where we might partner in the mission of spreading the gospel and planting churches (part of our DNA in ECO, whether on this continent or beyond).Read more
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 One, Shift Two, and Shift Three.
Go ahead. Admit it…what’s the first thought that comes to your mind when you think about planting a church? What about starting a missional community in your neighborhood? When you read an ECO blog about the experience of church planter assessment? What about when you hear stories of plants that have started through ECO? I’m going to take a wild guess that when you hear anything about planting, your first response is, “I’m all for it…but I could never do that!”Read more
As a boy, my grandfather was taught to memorize the Westminster Shorter Catechism by my great-grandmother while she cooked on the wood stove in her kitchen. When my grandfather and grandmother, farmers outside of Greensboro, North Carolina, had their own children - including my mother, all eight of them had to recite either the Westminster Shorter Catechism or the Children’s Catechism before they could get their driver’s licenses. This tradition of memorizing the Catechism before one could receive their license skipped my generation (I am the oldest of fifteen grandchildren), but to some chagrin, it has been reintroduced to my own children – the oldest of whom in sixteen and a half. I’ll let you imagine the rest…
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.Read more
Before Great Lakes became a presbytery, we were part of the Presbytery of the Northeast. At our gathering in 2013, I had the opportunity to preach.Read more
For most of my life, I believed the lie that I did not need God. Finally, after struggling with a conflict that I couldn’t fix, a good friend suggested that my problem was too big for me to handle, and that I should turn it over to the Lord. In my desperate condition, I was willing to try anything, even a God that I did not believe in. And I learned, like so many other adult converts, that God is real, and in His grace, He loved and cared for those, like me, who had rejected Him for years.
I love the scriptures. The New Testament expounds on the life that is in our Jesus—a God-ordained, Holy Spirit, Resurrection empowered life, filled with possibilities. Despite the declarative glory of the New Testament, it's in the Old Testament that I find myself.
One of the first sermons I remember hearing when I was in middle school was from John 4: the account of the Samaritan Woman. I remember being captivated by this amazing man named Jesus, who cared for and reached out to this woman who clearly felt the shame of her life journey. Jesus revealed to her that He was the Messiah and that she could have eternal life through Him. After hearing the sermon I knew that my life would forever be changed. A few months later at summer camp, I joyfully welcomed Jesus the Son of God, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords who died for our sins, into my life and have walked with Christ since that day.
Some years ago, a witty friend of mine introduced me as a “Methobapterian.” I am the great, great, grandson of circuit ridding Methodist ministers in Arkansas and Texas. I first encountered God while kneeling with my Confirmation Class, being baptized, and taking my first Communion. It was Easter Sunday and my 12th birthday when, in John Wesley’s words,