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.
Ever since I have been in ministry, I start thinking about the New Year in October. I take stock of the previous year by looking at how I am tracking with my annual goals and my prioritization of time and efforts. I would then start to think about the organizational and personal goals for the year and write them up for the session. This year was similar, except of course my goals were submitted to the Synod Executive Council.
We gained a significant number of congregations. We formed our nine presbyteries with solid leadership in place in each of these presbyteries. We conducted our church planting assessment, and have a handful of official church plants (as well as four times that number that are in the formation stage to be approved by their presbyteries). I work with these things at a high level, but some of the most exciting experiences I have are when I am traveling and talking with pastors and leaders who have renewed vision and passion for what God wants to do through them. I love when elders report that their Mission Affinity Group experience has been the best “church meeting” in which they have ever participated. I love when I see that the default answer to ministry initiatives and new ideas is, “yes, let’s do it”!
I can shift my energy and focus now that presbyteries are formed and functioning, all of the administration for ECO is now housed in the Goleta office, and that there are many people who can speak to churches that are considering discernment. I will be spending some more of my time helping to create and provide opportunities that will help facilitate the five shifts within our congregations.
The vast majority of these opportunities will be released through “Flourish”, the new entity being created under ECO that will allow us to offer opportunities to, as well as partner with, those outside of ECO.
The ECO staff is especially thankful for each of you, your leadership and your congregations. We pray God will bless you and your ministry deeply in the New Year as you share the good news of Jesus Christ with your communities and throughout the world!