September 17, 2014 — by Dana Allin

Shift One: From "Clergy-Centered" To An "Unleashed Laity"

What's ahead on the ECO blog


This fall our Thursday blogs will focus on the five shifts that we have identified as significant for living out the mission and vision of ECO. Every third Thursday, Dana Allin will be writing specifically about one of these shifts, and then the following two Thursdays we will hear from people who are making that particular shift in their local contexts.

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September 7, 2014 — by ECO Communications Team

Meet The Moderator, Lucky Arnold | Presbytery of Florida

Feeling God's pull


I was born and raised in Miami, so I am one of those rare “Native Floridians”. Though I was baptized and confirmed in the Episcopal Church, I never learned what it meant to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, except from watching Billy Graham on TV. I didn’t understand what his words meant, but somehow still ‘felt the pull’ of Dr. Graham’s invitation at the end of his messages. Over time, I came to think that educated people did not believe the more supernatural parts of the Bible, but could value religion as a means to teach morality to children and create a wholesome community of adults.

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August 27, 2014 — by Dr. Laura Smit

Choosing To Be Theological Or To Be Missional

To be theological or to be missional


medium_3904198951 I hope that title seems wrong to you. I hope that you read it and say: Obviously, all true theology leads to mission, and all mission is grounded in some theology. If it’s a God-honoring mission, it will be grounded in God-honoring theology.

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August 22, 2014 — by Dana Allin

When We Gathered in Dallas: ECO's Synod Meeting

A few things have changed since we gathered 18 months ago


Wow! I am both excited and exhausted—what a great couple of days we had in Dallas at the 2014 National Gathering! It’s exciting to see how we’ve grown from 30 churches and 10,000 covenant partners at our first Synod gathering in 2013 to now having 149 churches and 60,000 covenant partners at this gathering. Plus, it’s extremely encouraging to see a dozen church plants in various stages of formation and organization! There is so much to be grateful for.

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August 13, 2014 — by Rev. Eric O. Jacobsen

Words I Never Thought I'd Say

Feelings of dread


Rank in order (from most undesirable to least undesirable) the following experiences:

  1. A root canal

  2. An IRS audit

  3. Your denomination’s synod meeting

  4. Putting your dog down


There was a time in the not-too-distant past when ‘item C’ might have beaten out a few of these for the status of least desirable. I’m not kidding. I really used to dread going to denominational meetings. It’s not that denominational meetings were literally as painful as a root canal, but in my experience, they were painful in their own way. The pain I experienced had to do with the yawning gap between what could be and maybe what should be and what I actually experienced.

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August 3, 2014 — by Anna Kent

I’m So ECO I Remember When...

Getting ready to gather


National_Gathering_ECOIf you’re plugged in to the Facebook world, you may have seen the recent trend of status updates that goes something like this: I’m so [name your town] I remember when ___________. I grew up in Longview, Texas, and wanted to post this: “I’m so Longview, I remember my mom sipping a Tab while we swam in the pool at the Holiday Inn on Highway 80.” Reflecting on the “I’m so _________” trend made me a bit nostalgic. I giggled to myself as I thought about how this might apply to life in ECO.

  • I’m so ECO, I remember when ECO was simply a Spirit-filled concept…

  • I’m so ECO, I remember when ECO was called the “NRB...”

  • I’m so ECO, I remember our first gathering in Minneapolis…


The nostalgia grasped me as I’ve been preparing for our upcoming National Gathering in Dallas. I loved Keith Hill’s blog last week, Dallas in August!? I found myself vocalizing an “Amen” to all of his points about why he’s counting down the days until we gather. I thought I would follow his lead with a few additional thoughts on preparing for our time together.
Prayer

Yea, yea, I know this goes without saying, but I’m trying to be intentional about praying daily for the Gathering. It’s amazing to me all the moving parts and details involved in putting together such an event. And, this isn’t just an event like any other. The Gathering will be Spirit-filled with worshiping, teaching and learning, information sharing, decision-making, and joyfully fellowshipping. I’m praying for each person involved at every level, for safe travels for all, for Spirit-filled teaching and leading, for the discussion and business in our Synod meeting, and for God’s hand to be on each and every detail, among other things.
Life-of-the-mind prep

Once again, the line up of speakers for the Gathering is top-notch, and I look forward to being inspired and challenged by what they have to say and teach. I’m not sure I’ll have time to read all the books they’ve written, but I do plan to peruse their websites, familiarize myself with their ministries, and look forward to pondering what they might have to say and how it relates to our life in ECO.
Connections

As an extreme extrovert, an event like the Gathering is my ideal scenario! I love connecting names and faces with folks I haven’t met yet and catching up with folks who I haven’t seen in a while. The Gathering presents such a wonderful and unique opportunity to celebrate and dance in the joy of our like-mindedness. I want to especially encourage that if your church hasn’t gotten connected in a Mission Affinity Group, then the Gathering is a great place to connect. Or, if you’re a pastor and in need of a Pastoral Covenant Group, ask around at the Synod meeting or check out our Fellowship brothers and sisters and look for potential folks with whom to connect.
Endurance

I find time spent at past Gatherings is much like attempting to drink water out of a fire hose. There are never enough hours in the day to catch up with everyone I want to see or meet or ponder the different things we’re experiencing. So, to get the most out of our time together, I’m psyching myself up for getting up earlier than normal and staying up later than normal and being stretched a lot more than normal. I can’t wait for that feeling I’ve had at past Gatherings—the combination of both exhaustion and exhilaration combined in one. This feeling has propelled me forth as we depart into the next steps of Kingdom-building to which God has called us. Bring it on!

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July 24, 2014 — by ECO Communications Team

Equipping Pastors For Ministry

Creating ECO's ordination process


When ECO was conceived, there was hope that what would be created was a reformed body that kept churches connected, but allowed enough autonomy and flexibility that the local church would be able to flourish, thrive, and plant new churches. When a team of us imagined what the ordination process would look like for future ECO pastors, we took that vision and attempted to create a process that would be adaptable and flexible enough to meet the unique needs of each candidate. We also wanted to create a rigorous process of assessment that would have high expectations of candidates who needed to be theologically astute, knowledgeable of scripture, called and supported by their church community, and had already served the church successfully in multiple capacities.

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July 10, 2014 — by ECO Communications Team

The Gathering at Windsor Survives and Seeks To Thrive

An update from our friends in Windsor


Greetings ECO from one of your newest members, The Gathering at Windsor (TG) in Windsor, CO! We’re posting here to tell you more of our story in coming to ECO and some of our dreams for the next chapter. Circumstances have led us through a rocky season, but we have high hopes and faith as we aspire to a glorious future for the praise of our Lord Jesus!

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July 2, 2014 — by Dana Allin

What it Means to Be a Church Planter

Thoughts from the Church Planting Assessment


Last week in Tacoma, WA, I had the privilege of co-directing our church planting assessment with J. Allen Thompson, the master of church planting assessment. I have attended the Mission to North America church planting assessments a few times to learn how the process works, and am grateful ECO has a similar church planting assessment process in place now. Every time I've been to an assessment, I've heard from the candidates how grateful and encouraged they were by the process. I want to briefly reflect on the ways in which I too was encouraged by the assessment event last week.

Church planting takes courage


Special thanks to First Presbyterian Church of Tacoma, WA for hosting our Church Planting Assessment! Photo credit: Emily Day Special thanks to First Presbyterian Church of Tacoma, WA for hosting our Church Planting Assessment! Photo credit: Emily Day

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June 15, 2014 — by Dana Allin

Important Shifts For Our Future Development

Thoughts about the future

In the middle of May, the ECO Synod Executive Council met for a day. We spent some time thinking about the future and looking at where we need to spend our time and energy for future development. We took a look at our mission statement, “to build flourishing churches that make disciples of Jesus Christ.” We began to ask,

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June 12, 2014 — by ECO Communications Team

When It's Time To Pass The Baton

Discipling faithful men and women


In what’s believed to be a letter written from prison, shortly before Paul’s death, Paul wrote to Timothy, the one who “as a son with his father [had] served with [Paul] in the work of the gospel;” the one who had “proved himself.” Paul knew his time was short and that he was close to finishing the race he had been called to run. It was now time to make sure the baton he was passing was securely in the hand of those who would continue the race; to those who would be faithful in the ministry of shepherding the church in such a way that they “proclaim” Christ, “admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that” they “may present everyone mature in Christ.”

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June 9, 2014 — by Bill Young

The Good News: A Matter of Eternity & Justice Right Here, Right Now

The work of the Gospel


what-difference-does-jesus-make-eco
“Do we really need to be concerned that people hear about Jesus? What difference does Jesus make?”

Last week was my final staff retreat as Executive Director of PFF (Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship). After the retreat, one of our staff members was telling a group of us about her recent meeting with a mission committee. She had shared with the committee about the focus of PFF on helping Presbyterians be part of what God is doing in taking the gospel to those who have no church in their own language and culture. A couple of committee members responded with the questions above. Our staff member could have answered those questions on several levels. After all, all the answers boil down to the reality that the coming of Jesus is good news (the literal meaning of the word gospel!). It’s good news for people who are trapped in sin and who are separated from God.

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June 4, 2014 — by ECO Communications Team

Lessons In Church Planting: Are You Curious?

When business gets in the way


I’m coming to realize one of the most exciting things about church planting is how it offers us the opportunity to become curious again. In church planting, there’s a renewed focus on listening and learning the stories of the people, neighborhoods, and industries of our cities where we are starting new churches. We get to ask questions like:

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May 29, 2014 — by Rev. Eric O. Jacobsen

A Year of Jubilee

Unflappable: The ability to remain cool and calm in the midst of a crisis.


For as long as I’ve served in ministry, unflappability has been a core aspect of my pastoral identity. Or, I should say that was a core aspect of my pastoral identity—until Holy Week 2013. That date will stand out in my memory as the time I was officially flapped.

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