December 23, 2016 — by ECO NEWS

Merry Christmas From Littlerock Community Church!

I am currently the Head of Staff at Littlerock Community Church and a candidate for ordination through ECO.  Our church joined ECO just about a year ago and God has truly blessed us in the past year.  We are a small church located in California's Antelope Valley and so some of this may seem quite insignificant compared to our larger sister churches.  But in the past year, we started an adult Sunday School class which now averages around 15-17 every week and growing!  We also re-started a children’s Sunday School class that now has between 8-12 children each week.  We started a Saturday morning book study (currently reading through Max Lucado’s book on Grace) which has around 8 people each week.  Our growth had been stagnant, but during the past year, we have added 6 new members and I have had the privilege of baptizing four individuals!

Our people now truly feel challenged to “think outside of the box” and as a result, in addition to our normal Christmas caroling to members who are shut-in, we contacted a local “senior” mobile home park and asked if there were any residents that would like us to come.  We were given several names, so we were able to minister to them on a Friday night.  Every home that we sang to wanted to know the name of the church that we represented and we are already seeing some of their relatives coming to visit us!

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November 30, 2016 — by Anna Kent

Building a Healthy Team With ELI & MAGs

I want to share with you a pretty exciting thing God has made happen in one of our ECO Mission Affinity Groups.  At the beginning of the year, Lisa Johnson, Director of ELI, Dana Allin and I sat down to discuss just how we might begin a pilot project of inviting a Mission Affinity Group into an experience of the Elder Leadership Institute.  Lisa has done an incredible job of building on the foundation of ELI by revamping some of the content and the approach so that the experience accommodates the transformational change we hope happens in ECO churches.  The MAG relationship is a perfect crucible to experiment and test out some of the enhancements. Lisa and I invited a group of Alabama churches to be the first guinea pigs.  I knew from being involved with this MAG that they were interested in strengthening the elder leadership through additional training and hoped to do that together. Westminster Pres and Overlook Pres both in Mobile, Bryan Memorial in Hoover, and the Eden Seekers in Enterprise were the perfect fit.  

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November 30, 2016 — by Jen Haddox

Steams of Living Water in the Desert

When I think of the Arabian Peninsula, I imagine the Arabian desert with sand and lots of it!  Blazing sun and parched land with sparse vegetation, and the occasion camel or oasis.  The desert wilderness is not an easy place to live, but it is a place where God is at work!  As witnessed by the Hebrew people who were led out of Egypt and wandered for 40 years in such conditions, there was much to complain about with the harsh living conditions. But also tremendous opportunities to encounter the living God – just re-read Exodus 16-20! On a recent journey to the United Arab Emirates with our partners at Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship (PFF), I discovered that God is very active encountering the people who live and work in this fascinating place in our world. 

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November 30, 2016 — by Dana Allin

What are the Greatest Needs of ECO Churches?

In the last six months, I have tried to ascertain what are the greatest needs of ECO churches.  I have conducted informal and formal questioning around this subject with various pastors and congregational leaders.  I have compared their answers with my own observations from personal interactions.  While all of our congregations are different, there are some common themes that emerge within many of them.  

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August 17, 2016 — by Dana Allin

In ECO: Now What?

At ECO's national gathering in Newport Beach this past January, I led a breakout session called, “In ECO, Now What?”  This  question often gets asked in a variety of different ways.  I will get phone calls or e-mails stating that a congregation has been in ECO (usually for 6 months to a year) and the leaders want their congregation to live more fully into the values and vision that have been articulated. When I am asked these "now what?" questions, I tell congregations that they can do three things if they have not already been done.

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August 10, 2016 — by Tim Fearer

Discipleship And What People Really Want

Transformation. Accountability. Community.  ECO’s own John Terech was the one who first shared those words with me and others of us at a discipleship training in Greenville a few months ago.  He shared and told his own story, making all kinds of connections with our unfolding ECO story, born out of his weekly experiences with CrossFit.  Now I’m getting a taste of it, too.  

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August 2, 2016 — by Anna Kent

MAGS & ELI In Alabama

In March, I had the privilege of joining a group of ECO churches who were gathering for their initial MAG meeting.  It wasn’t so much an “official” MAG meeting, but rather one of those “first date” meetings where leaders gather and see if they might be a fit for a longer term relationship. (I love using dating analogies when it comes to matching up ECO churches in MAGs.)  The group that gathered included churches in my state of Sweet Home Alabama and comprised of representative leaders from Overlook Presbyterian and Westminster Presbyterian in Mobile and leaders from a splant in Enterprise, Alabama, now called the Eden Seekers.  I shouldn’t really say it was a “first date” meeting… several of the leaders already knew each other from having been connected previously.  It was nice to see these folks reconnect as covenant partners and leaders in now ECO churches.  

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June 28, 2016 — by Matthew Lee

ECO Church Planting Network

Our desire as a denomination is to see churches planted that are gospel-centered, healthy, contextualized, and missional. We are excited to see new churches being planted throughout the United States. This is the first update/newsletter for the ECO Church Planting Network. Want to receive updates via email? Please subscribe. We will be sending these out on a monthly or quarterly basis. We will include prayer requests as well. 

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June 27, 2016 — by Becky Lahna

Our God Is Faithful

The weeks leading up to my move to California have been full of contemplation.  Looking forward and looking back.  I’ve been in Boston for 11 years now.  These years have been both difficult and joyful.  I’ve experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.  But what if I hadn’t come to New England 11 years ago?  What if I had stayed in the familiarity and comfort of what was known back in Chattanooga, Tennessee?  It’s conceivable.  From the outside looking in, there was really no reason to move to Boston.  Life was good back in Tennessee.  I had friends.  We played softball (and won!). 

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May 16, 2016 — by Eric Laverentz

Seven Ways For Elders To Shepherd People Right Now

Often when someone older joins our congregation, they will be very concerned with making sure their ‘letter of transfer’ is properly handled.  It is almost like you are dealing with an agency of the Federal Government and they must present proper ID in order to verify their faith and be fully welcomed into our fellowship.

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May 9, 2016 — by ECO Communications Team

Meet The Moderator Of Northern California & Nevada: Terri McNabb

These are exciting times for us in ECO!  Many of our presbyteries are multiplying.  I have had the privilege of being the MPT chair for the past two years for the Presbytery of Northern California, Nevada and Hawaii.  Now, as Moderator, I am facilitating the transition from one presbytery into two.  We are now becoming the Presbytery of Northern California and Nevada, (which I will continue to moderate) and Bluewater Presbytery, which will consist of the churches in the Northwestern side of California and Hawaii.

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May 9, 2016 — by Anna Kent

Praying For Our MAGs

I've been wondering something lately. I've actually been wondering a lot of things lately. The Lord has been stirring a number of things in my heart.  I fear I may have been doing a little too much “navel-gazing”… a little too much self-introspection.  I’ll share a bit and you can be the judge.  

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April 18, 2016 — by Stuart Strachan

The Life-Giving Nature of ECO’s Polity

“In ECO polity, the role of the presbytery is to support, encourage, and be a resource for local congregations. ECO presbyteries are designed to be flexible and to cultivate connection and community among member churches.” -Intro to  ECO Presbyteries

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April 11, 2016 — by Pete Santucci

God Is In The Details

Easter Sunday worship may be one of the most predictable services in the year. We know the story. We know the songs. We know that egg hunts and families meals are par for the course.

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April 7, 2016 — by ECO Communications Team

Meet The Moderator Of The Rivers Of Life: Jason Schepp

Rivers of Life Presbytery sits in the wooded country side of Western Pennsylvania, and is home to a hard working, fun loving group of men and women.  It is an area that is filled with congregations that desire the opportunity to grow and teach discipleship.  Through this new presbytery, it is my hope that we can create an environment that empowers as well as guides these congregations in the way of the early church, and to a movement of disciple builders.

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March 28, 2016 — by Matthew Lee

ECO Church Planting

As I begin my new role and ministry at ECO, I am excited and hopeful for what God will do in and through the individuals and churches of this denomination. I love the fact that so many ECO churches and pastors have a heart to see new churches started and their neighborhood, towns, and cities transformed by the Gospel. I also love the de-centralized emphasis where congregations have the primary ownership and responsibility to plant churches versus the denomination. This vision will not only empower local churches to have more “skin in the game,” but will also foster a greater culture of multiplication.

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March 21, 2016 — by Eric Laverentz

3 Things Elders Did For 4,000 Years

The role of church elder has changed substantially during the last century.  Following the Civil War, gaining momentum well into the 20th century, elders moved from a primary role as a shepherd of people alongside the pastors, to become the superintendent of a program or ministry.  To put it simply, for nearly four millenia, elders oversaw people.  For a hundred years up and until today, Presbyterian elders focus nearly all their time upon the things of the church—bricks, money, programs, and pew pencils—at the expense of the people.   

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March 17, 2016 — by ECO Communications Team

Meet The Moderators Blog Series

It has only been 4 years since ECO was launched (in January of 2012) and it took another 5 months before any congregations were actually able to join ECO. At the time of our 2016 gathering in Newport Beach, ECO was made up of 252 congregations that represent over 100,000 covenant partners.

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March 7, 2016 — by Len Tang

Benefits Of Bi-Vocational Church Planting

They say that necessity is the mother of invention.  The economic realities of the church and church planting today are necessitating bi-vocational church planting. The Apostle Paul, of course, was the original tentmaker!  In many ethnic churches and smaller churches, bi-vocational ministry has always been the norm rather than the exception. Today, there are even conferences for bivocational planters and pastors

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March 3, 2016 — by ECO Communications Team

STRIVE 2016: Walking Through An Open Door

Hope. That is how I characterize STRIVE. Coming from snow-bound West Virginia, it seemed to metaphorically represent the spiritual binding of Presbyterians here who feel trapped without options, but the joy and passion of the commissioners and guests affirmed that God is doing a new thing.  There is an open door – if we will just walk through it.  

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February 29, 2016 — by Travis Fletcher

STRIVE 2016: "Strive For Something Greater"

After the ECO gathering ended, I drove over to the back bay (I called the back bay, a native friend of mine instructed me facetiously, “because there’s no such thing as canals or ditches in southern California.”) from St. Andrew's and took a run along the trails.  It was a gorgeous, sunny day, and I felt simulatenously drained (from the long days and lots of time with my “extrovert” hat on) and energized by the week together with the ECO family.

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February 22, 2016 — by Dana Allin

STRIVE Blog Series

We are so grateful for the many powerful and exciting ways in which God was at work at ECO's STRIVE national gathering in January! We had a wonderful time together in worship, connecting with friends and colleagues from across the country, and learning from so many effective ministry leaders from both within and outside of our tribe.

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