March 5, 2015 — by Hannah Parmelee

Young Adult Evangelism & Discipleship

When I first started working with college students, ten years ago, I thought I needed to be “professionally cool.”  I knew from past experience that I wasn’t the regular “cool.”  I didn’t have the “it” my college or youth ministers had that made students flock to them.  So, fresh out of grad school and eager to impress, I tried to have all the answers, look the part of a professional, and draw students to me with my wisdom.  As you can guess, this approach failed miserably.

Read more

March 2, 2015 — by Mark Patterson

Holding A Doctrine To Be True Vs. Living A True Doctrine

There is a profound difference between holding a doctrine to be true and living a true doctrine. We Presbyterians are, rightly so, rigorous in our Trinitarian understanding of God. We hold this doctrine to be essentially and vitally true. Yet we must acknowledge that sometimes our actual living of this doctrine is arguably more “binitarian” than Trinitarian. Regardless of word, we might declare our Trinitarian affirmations look more like “FATHER! SON! and Holy Spirit.” 

Read more

February 26, 2015 — by Sarah Arnoult

Campus Ministry: Developing Student Leaders

Before my role as assistant to the Synod Executive at ECO, I spent three years as a missionary to college students on the Central Coast of California with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. In my short years working with this group of people I learned a lot (and failed a lot) about how to reach the 19.5 million college students that are in universities across the nation. If you are reading that number and thinking “Wow, that’s a ton of people!” and also thinking “We need to reach those students!!” let me offer you a few pointers that I learned during my time on campus.

Read more

February 19, 2015 — by Barry Gray

Setting The Four Pillars Of The Church In Their Proper Order

Matthew tells us in 16:16 that God has built his Church on the rock of Peter’s confession that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Paul said, in Ephesians 2:20 that it is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the Chief Cornerstone.” And he goes on to explain in chapter 4:11-12: “It was he (Jesus) who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service (Italics mine), so that the body of Christ may be built up.”

Read more

February 12, 2015 — by Anthony Ceder

Can I Have A Do-Over?

I recently saw the movie, “American Sniper” and I really enjoyed it. I am only bringing up Chris Kyle (the Navy SEAL upon whom the movie is based), not to argue for or against the righteousness of his life and vocation, but because I saw a little of myself in him. Specifically, I could relate to how difficult it was for him to be devoted to his family and a vocation he was 100% passion about. In the movie, Kyle was depicted as a man who loved his wife and children but was also frequently torn by how much he felt “needed” by his fellow soldiers. I have nothing critical to say about Kyle. I truly appreciate his service to our country. I don’t know if our military “needed” him as much as he thought they did, but when I watched him leave his family multiple times in tough moments to go back to Iraq to meet a “need”, I was reminded of my youth ministry days.

Read more

February 5, 2015 — by Jim Gribnitz

Pastors & Parents: Shepherding The Next Generation Together

The relationship between parents and their church's youth ministry can be an interesting one. We often say that parents are primary. This is very true, but the church also plays a vital role in shaping the next generation. In our attempt to get the relationship between youth parents and youth pastors in sync, I have seen two extremes in my 15+ years of nextgen ministry...

Read more

February 1, 2015 — by Rod Pinder

"You Didn't Get It Here"

"Amen!" The sound rang out from the back of the sanctuary when the preacher made a particularly salient point. Horrified ushers hurried to the scene of the crime and gently but firmly informed the visiting perpetrator, “We don’t do that sort of thing here. Please listen quietly during the sermon.”

Read more

January 26, 2015 — by Dana Allin

"Like-Minded" Not "Same-Minded"

One of the key things I remember Jim Singleton saying at the first Fellowship gathering in Minneapolis was that Fellowship and ECO would be a collection of people who are like-minded but not same-minded. I think that distinction is the very component for what ECO strives to be. Rather than ruling from the boundaries and dictating non-essentials, ECO desires to hold at the center: a core theology that gives clarity to the movement.

Read more

January 22, 2015 — by Rev. Eric O. Jacobsen

An ECO Synod Executive Council Update

Hi. My name is Eric Jacobsen, and in addition to being a pastor from Tacoma Washington, I am the President of the Synod Executive Council. I’m also a contributor to this blog, so if you are a regular reader, you may already know a bit about me and some of my random thoughts about life in ECO. Today, I wanted to combine two of these hats and use the blog forum to give you all an update from our latest meeting of the Council that took place just last week. Let me first introduce you to the members of the ECO Synod Executive Council:

Read more

January 5, 2015 — by John Terech

2015: A Time For Growth And Maturity

Undoubtedly, over the past three years, the most heard phrase used in and about ECO has been, “building the plane in the air.”

Certainly, this phrase was very true of our start. We managed to get to this place: a denomination of over 170 congregations, over 250 pastors, and over 70,000 covenant partners, by putting things in place while we were moving. We moved very quickly. That’s quite an accomplishment in three years, let alone the actual time of two and a half years since the first congregation became a member of this thing called ECO.

Read more

January 1, 2015 — by Dana Allin

Happy New Year, ECO friends!

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.

Read more

December 10, 2014 — by Dana Allin

Shift Five: From An "Addition/Subtraction Mentality" To A “Multiplication Mindset"

Stay tuned to the ECO blog


This fall our Thursday blogs are focused on the five shifts we've identified as significant for living out the mission and vision of ECO. Every third Thursday, Dana Allin writes specifically about one of these shifts, and then the following two Thursdays we hear from people within the ECO community who are living out that particular shift in their local contexts. Read Shift OneShift Two, Shift Three, and Shift Four.

Read more

December 7, 2014 — by ECO Communications Team

The Most Wonderful Time of Year: A Savior Is Born For The World

The happiest time of the year

At long last, it's the most wonderful time of the year! The church calendar has caught up with the rest of our culture, who has been celebrating Christmas with its holiday-themed store displays and gingerbread lattes for weeks—if not a couple months! I'm thrilled to join with the kids jingle belling and everyone telling you, ‘be of good cheer’!

Read more

November 30, 2014 — by Keith Hill

ECO and Egypt?!

A sister church in Egypt


Two weeks ago Fakhri Yacoub, Brian Stewart, my wife, Sarah, and I, had the privilege of representing ECO at the 150th anniversary of the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo. That was the event which occasioned our going, but our agenda was much broader—to build relationships with Presbyterians in one of the three nations ECO has selected for our global focus. More on that below, but first, some surprising “who knew?!” discoveries from our trip:

Read more

November 23, 2014 — by Rev. Mateen Elass

God Is At Work In The Middle East

Something huge is coming

God is on the move in ways far beyond our puny imaginings.

That thought branded itself in my mind last week as I returned from a trip to the Middle East with other ECO leaders. We traveled together to seek discernment as to where we might partner in the mission of spreading the gospel and planting churches (part of our DNA in ECO, whether on this continent or beyond).

Read more

November 19, 2014 — by Dana Allin

Shift Four: Becoming Missional And Attractional

Stay tuned to the ECO blog


This fall our Thursday blogs are focused on the five shifts we’ve identified as significant for living out the mission and vision of ECO. Every third Thursday, Dana Allin writes specifically about one of these shifts, and then the following two Thursdays we hear from people within the ECO community who are living out that particular shift in their local contexts. Read Shift OneShift Two, and Shift Three

Read more

November 16, 2014 — by ECO Communications Team

But I Could Never Do That

Calling all church planters

Go ahead. Admit it…what’s the first thought that comes to your mind when you think about planting a church? What about starting a missional community in your neighborhood? When you read an ECO blog about the experience of church planter assessment? What about when you hear stories of plants that have started through ECO? I’m going to take a wild guess that when you hear anything about planting, your first response is, “I’m all for it…but I could never do that!

Read more

November 2, 2014 — by ECO Communications Team

Meet The Moderator, Brian Stewart | East Central Presbytery

Listening when the Voice speaks


As a boy, my grandfather was taught to memorize the Westminster Shorter Catechism by my great-grandmother while she cooked on the wood stove in her kitchen. When my grandfather and grandmother, farmers outside of Greensboro, North Carolina, had their own children - including my mother, all eight of them had to recite either the Westminster Shorter Catechism or the Children’s Catechism before they could get their driver’s licenses. This tradition of memorizing the Catechism before one could receive their license skipped my generation (I am the oldest of fifteen grandchildren), but to some chagrin, it has been reintroduced to my own children – the oldest of whom in sixteen and a half. I’ll let you imagine the rest…

Read more