April 4, 2018 — by Dana Allin

What Is Your Next Flourishing Step?

I hope and pray that you all had a wonderful Lenten season and Easter Sunday celebration of the powerful impact of the Resurrection on our lives and in our churches. One of my favorite books in the Bible is Acts, with it’s great recounting of how the resurrection changed the whole trajectory, mission, and orientation of the disciples. Acts begins in the same way that the book of Matthew ends: A commission is given to the disciples who are going to be witnesses to every region and to every person in the world.  I can imagine the disciples who heard the words of Jesus were likely excited about the possibilities, and perhaps overwhelmed at the enormity of the task. I know if I had been a disciple in that room I would have asked, “Ok Jesus, so what is the next step I need to take?”

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April 4, 2018 — by Communications Team

Church Plant Spotlight: RiverCross Church, Visalia, CA

Rev. Karl Schafer, Pastor : What is the vision for RiverCross The vision of RiverCross is to make relationships with Jesus real. We want to see everyone changed and impacted by finding or deepening their relationship with Jesus. We say that this means everyone must step into relationships with Jesus - For people just now getting to know Jesus, we hope they step into that relationship - For people who already have relationships with Jesus, we want to see them step further into those relationships.

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April 4, 2018 — by Communications Team

Kairos Moment at the Presbytery of Texas Meeting

by Rev. Susan Finck Pastor, El Calvario Presbyterian Church: There are two words for “time” in the New Testament: chronos – the time on your watch, and kairos –  when God’s time intersects the regular course of events, infused with His holiness and purposes. On behalf of all of us at ECPC Waco, we are thankful that God came near in a true ‘kairos moment’ during the Presbytery of Texas meeting this past January.

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April 4, 2018 — by Jen Haddox

Sharing in Grace and Mission

Earlier this spring I called together a group of mission leaders in Franklin, TN, to collaborate and connect about how to further strengthen ECO’s Global Engagement. At the conclusion of our two-day consultation, I was overwhelmed by how energizing and productive our time had been. We had discerned priorities and mission practices together and generated ideas for what we could do in partnership that we could not accomplish as individual congregations or organizations. The synergy was tangible! And beyond the ideas and action steps we generated, we all were energized by the relationships that had formed and deepened during our conversations over ideas and around tables at meals.

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April 4, 2018 — by Anna Kent

Healthy Leaders Lead Healthy Congregations

I remember John Ortberg making this simple, intuitive, yet very important statement at one of our first ECO gatherings.  It has stuck with me since then as I continue to repeat it time and time again when asked to speak about our covenantal accountability.  One of the major premises behind ECO’s Pastoral Covenant Groups (PCG) and Mission Affinity Groups (MAG) is the idea of promoting a sense of health among our leaders.  We encourage PCGs to consider six areas of health when they connect together: Spiritual, Relational, Emotional, Vocational, Congregational and Physical. These areas of health offer excellent points of thought and reflection for all of our leaders in ECO.

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March 6, 2018 — by Dana Allin

Being a Hero-Maker

I am just returning home from a week-long trip to Florida that served two purposes. One was to work with Mandarin Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville, where Kevin Pound has been the senior pastor for 25 years. Over those years, the church has increased from an average worship attendance of less than 200 to 800 worshiping together on a Sunday. Now Kevin is preparing to retire. As a result of that impending change, the church is engaging in an intentional succession process to find a new senior pastor. I was working with the church and the PNC on that process to help determine what vision God has for them in the future, as well as helping to find the right new senior pastor to implement that vision.

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March 6, 2018 — by Lisa Johnson

Four Words That Changed My Life and Could Change Our Denomination

I was 26 years old, had just graduated from seminary, newly ordained, and in my first call as a pastor. The night before I was to preach my first sermon, I walked across the hall in our apartment building to borrow an egg from our neighbors, who were members of the church where I was serving. Dick answered the door, and as his wife went to get me an egg, he asked me how I was feeling about preaching the next day. I told him that I was a bit nervous, as the new, young pastor. Then he told me “Whenever I am overwhelmed by the size of the task in front of me, I pray four simple words: ‘Holy Spirit, take over.’ Try it tomorrow before you step into the pulpit. I think you will be amazed at what He can do.”

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March 6, 2018 — by Anna Kent

Mission Affinity Groups (MAGS): The Narrative Questions

The Narrative Questions… love ‘em, hate ‘em, don’t like ‘em, don’t get ‘em, don’t know ‘em…Over the years of ECO’s existence, I think I’ve heard it all.  I get it. The Narrative Questions on Mission and Ministry - even the name is long and a challenge! These ten questions were pulled from our Presbyterian history and are intended to invite the Session of a church to give a qualitative assessment of what God is doing in their midst and context. Those answers are then shared together in a Mission Affinity Group meeting. In a sense, the Narrative Questions provide an opportunity for an annual Examen – a way for us to be aware where God has been active and at work in the overall ministries of a church. They then provide a basis for Sessions to encourage and hold one another accountable to be flourishing churches that make disciples of Jesus Christ.  

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February 7, 2018 — by -

How did an 81-year old pastor from West Texas connect with a young Korean ordination candidate from Maryland through the 2018 Gathering?

By Paul Kim, Jr.  Neelsville Presbyterian Church, Germantown, MD: Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21. Although it is not extraordinary for Christians to experience God’s provision in our daily walk with Christ Jesus, it is my joy to share my testimony with ECO sisters and brothers in Christ as I did during the East Central Presbytery meeting at the National Gathering in Houston, TX.   

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February 7, 2018 — by Dana Allin

Reflections on the National Gathering from Dana Allin

  Though several weeks have now passed, I am still so exhilarated from our National Gathering in Houston. It was a wonderful and long week, from preparing early at the venue to concluding with two days of coach training. Our fabulous staff deserves huge thanks, along with the gracious Houston churches who provided thousands of volunteer hours to make this event run smoothly. Allow me a moment to briefly reflect on three personal RENOVATE highlights that I hope we can continue to build upon in the future.

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January 3, 2018 — by Nate Dreesmann

Cleaning up, Shaping up, and Clearing up our Polity and Theology

2018 marks ECO’s sixth year of existence, now made up of more than 370 churches and church plants. ECO’s mission “to build flourishing churches that make disciples of Jesus Christ” continues to inform every decision and choice that the Synod Executive Council and Synod Staff are making to support and resource ECO churches. As Dana Allin said last year, the Synod sees its role as helping catalyze flourishing in every ECO church and in every ECO leader. To that end, how ECO governs itself and what theological statements guide its leaders matters. If I could sum up this year’s Synod Business Meeting with one phrase, I would call it “Cleaning up, Shaping up, and Clearing up our Polity and Theology.”

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