One of the blessings of our growth in ECO comes with the multiplication of our presbyteries. And because our presbyteries are multiplying, it means that we are living more fully into the idea of smaller, more relational presbyteries. That means that we have the opportunity to develop deeper relationships among ECO leadership and realize the blessing and benefit of COVENANTAL ACCOUNTABILITY!
I recently was invited to attend the inaugural meeting of the newly formed Heritage Presbytery held at FPC, Bethlehem, PA. We took some time together on Friday night pondering the “why’s” of covenantal accountability by contemplating what happened at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15. The premise of the Jerusalem gathering was to discuss some disagreements that had arisen among the early believers. But guess what else happened there? Paul and Barnabas shared what was happening among the Gentiles through their ministry!
In verse 4, we find this: “When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them.” And then later in verse 12, we find this: “The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them.” Dare I suggest that in the middle of this first “presbytery” meeting, we’ve got a little bit of a MAG report going on? Please know, I recognize this is a bit of a stretch, but I do think it is a helpful reminder from the truth of Scripture as to just what ought to be happening when we gather together as followers of Jesus and leaders within in His church.
On Saturday, the business of the Presbytery was joyfully conducted. Before we broke for food and fellowship, Wayne Lowe, chair of the MPT, suggested some various groupings of churches in the newly formed presbytery. After lunch, four different groups gathered together and met for an hour in separate break-out sessions. The discussion time was split into each church discussing and sharing answers to three questions:
What are our strengths?
What are our weaknesses?
Where do we want to grow?
The time concluded by determining next steps, asking how each church will be held accountable to one another, determining when the group will meet again, and closing with an extended time of praying for one another.
I’m bragging a bit on the Heritage Presbytery, because I got to experience their meeting first hand. I would be remiss in not giving a shout out to the Presbytery of the Upper Midwest who carried out a similar type of focus on MAGs at their presbytery meeting in October and experienced some great covenantal connectionalism together. And, I would be doubly remiss if I failed to acknowledge that Presbytery of Southern California and the Presbytery of Alaska have made MAGs an integral part of each of their meetings together since the beginning of ECO.
Can you imagine what it must have been like to listen to Paul and Barnabas share their stories of the growth of God’s kingdom and the spread of the Gospel through them? I think the work of MAGs give us just that opportunity! This comment from Mark Frueh, chair of the MPT of the Presbytery of the Upper Midwest sums it up the best:
"How could we not be encouraged and enlightened when we together ask Jesus to show us where He is working and where He wants us to join Him in that work?"
Anna Kent: Mission Affinity Groups