October 19, 2014 — by ECO Communications Team

Meet The Moderator, Ron Horn | Presbytery of The Northwest and Alaska

How God found me


For most of my life, I believed the lie that I did not need God. Finally, after struggling with a conflict that I couldn’t fix, a good friend suggested that my problem was too big for me to handle, and that I should turn it over to the Lord. In my desperate condition, I was willing to try anything, even a God that I did not believe in. And I learned, like so many other adult converts, that God is real, and in His grace, He loved and cared for those, like me, who had rejected Him for years.

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October 15, 2014 — by ECO Communications Team

A Voice In The Crowd

A personal account of the 2014 National Gathering

My name is Helen Brooks. I am from Cincinnati, Ohio. I attended the 2014 National Gathering and I've been thinking about the event ever since.

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October 8, 2014 — by Dana Allin

Shift Two: From “Safety and Preservation To Risk Taking and Expansion”

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 more about Shift One here.

Shift #2: From “Safety and Preservation To Risk Taking and Expansion”


risk-taking-and-expansion

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October 5, 2014 — by ECO Communications Team

Meet The Moderator, Nate Dreesmann | Presbytery of The West

Beginning his ministry


One of the first sermons I remember hearing when I was in middle school was from John 4: the account of the Samaritan Woman. I remember being captivated by this amazing man named Jesus, who cared for and reached out to this woman who clearly felt the shame of her life journey. Jesus revealed to her that He was the Messiah and that she could have eternal life through Him. After hearing the sermon I knew that my life would forever be changed. A few months later at summer camp, I joyfully welcomed Jesus the Son of God, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords who died for our sins, into my life and have walked with Christ since that day.

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September 28, 2014 — by ECO Communications Team

Meet The Moderator, Bob Bullock | Presbytery of Texas and Louisiana

"You've always been a Presbyterian,"


Some years ago, a witty friend of mine introduced me as a “Methobapterian.” I am the great, great, grandson of circuit ridding Methodist ministers in Arkansas and Texas. I first encountered God while kneeling with my Confirmation Class, being baptized, and taking my first Communion. It was Easter Sunday and my 12th birthday when, in John Wesley’s words,

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September 17, 2014 — by Dana Allin

Shift One: From "Clergy-Centered" To An "Unleashed Laity"

What's ahead on the ECO blog


This fall our Thursday blogs will focus on the five shifts that we have identified as significant for living out the mission and vision of ECO. Every third Thursday, Dana Allin will be writing specifically about one of these shifts, and then the following two Thursdays we will hear from people who are making that particular shift in their local contexts.

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September 7, 2014 — by ECO Communications Team

Meet The Moderator, Lucky Arnold | Presbytery of Florida

Feeling God's pull


I was born and raised in Miami, so I am one of those rare “Native Floridians”. Though I was baptized and confirmed in the Episcopal Church, I never learned what it meant to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, except from watching Billy Graham on TV. I didn’t understand what his words meant, but somehow still ‘felt the pull’ of Dr. Graham’s invitation at the end of his messages. Over time, I came to think that educated people did not believe the more supernatural parts of the Bible, but could value religion as a means to teach morality to children and create a wholesome community of adults.

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August 27, 2014 — by Dr. Laura Smit

Choosing To Be Theological Or To Be Missional

To be theological or to be missional


medium_3904198951 I hope that title seems wrong to you. I hope that you read it and say: Obviously, all true theology leads to mission, and all mission is grounded in some theology. If it’s a God-honoring mission, it will be grounded in God-honoring theology.

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August 22, 2014 — by Dana Allin

When We Gathered in Dallas: ECO's Synod Meeting

A few things have changed since we gathered 18 months ago


Wow! I am both excited and exhausted—what a great couple of days we had in Dallas at the 2014 National Gathering! It’s exciting to see how we’ve grown from 30 churches and 10,000 covenant partners at our first Synod gathering in 2013 to now having 149 churches and 60,000 covenant partners at this gathering. Plus, it’s extremely encouraging to see a dozen church plants in various stages of formation and organization! There is so much to be grateful for.

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August 13, 2014 — by Rev. Eric O. Jacobsen

Words I Never Thought I'd Say

Feelings of dread


Rank in order (from most undesirable to least undesirable) the following experiences:

  1. A root canal

  2. An IRS audit

  3. Your denomination’s synod meeting

  4. Putting your dog down


There was a time in the not-too-distant past when ‘item C’ might have beaten out a few of these for the status of least desirable. I’m not kidding. I really used to dread going to denominational meetings. It’s not that denominational meetings were literally as painful as a root canal, but in my experience, they were painful in their own way. The pain I experienced had to do with the yawning gap between what could be and maybe what should be and what I actually experienced.

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August 3, 2014 — by Anna Kent

I’m So ECO I Remember When...

Getting ready to gather


National_Gathering_ECOIf you’re plugged in to the Facebook world, you may have seen the recent trend of status updates that goes something like this: I’m so [name your town] I remember when ___________. I grew up in Longview, Texas, and wanted to post this: “I’m so Longview, I remember my mom sipping a Tab while we swam in the pool at the Holiday Inn on Highway 80.” Reflecting on the “I’m so _________” trend made me a bit nostalgic. I giggled to myself as I thought about how this might apply to life in ECO.

  • I’m so ECO, I remember when ECO was simply a Spirit-filled concept…

  • I’m so ECO, I remember when ECO was called the “NRB...”

  • I’m so ECO, I remember our first gathering in Minneapolis…


The nostalgia grasped me as I’ve been preparing for our upcoming National Gathering in Dallas. I loved Keith Hill’s blog last week, Dallas in August!? I found myself vocalizing an “Amen” to all of his points about why he’s counting down the days until we gather. I thought I would follow his lead with a few additional thoughts on preparing for our time together.
Prayer

Yea, yea, I know this goes without saying, but I’m trying to be intentional about praying daily for the Gathering. It’s amazing to me all the moving parts and details involved in putting together such an event. And, this isn’t just an event like any other. The Gathering will be Spirit-filled with worshiping, teaching and learning, information sharing, decision-making, and joyfully fellowshipping. I’m praying for each person involved at every level, for safe travels for all, for Spirit-filled teaching and leading, for the discussion and business in our Synod meeting, and for God’s hand to be on each and every detail, among other things.
Life-of-the-mind prep

Once again, the line up of speakers for the Gathering is top-notch, and I look forward to being inspired and challenged by what they have to say and teach. I’m not sure I’ll have time to read all the books they’ve written, but I do plan to peruse their websites, familiarize myself with their ministries, and look forward to pondering what they might have to say and how it relates to our life in ECO.
Connections

As an extreme extrovert, an event like the Gathering is my ideal scenario! I love connecting names and faces with folks I haven’t met yet and catching up with folks who I haven’t seen in a while. The Gathering presents such a wonderful and unique opportunity to celebrate and dance in the joy of our like-mindedness. I want to especially encourage that if your church hasn’t gotten connected in a Mission Affinity Group, then the Gathering is a great place to connect. Or, if you’re a pastor and in need of a Pastoral Covenant Group, ask around at the Synod meeting or check out our Fellowship brothers and sisters and look for potential folks with whom to connect.
Endurance

I find time spent at past Gatherings is much like attempting to drink water out of a fire hose. There are never enough hours in the day to catch up with everyone I want to see or meet or ponder the different things we’re experiencing. So, to get the most out of our time together, I’m psyching myself up for getting up earlier than normal and staying up later than normal and being stretched a lot more than normal. I can’t wait for that feeling I’ve had at past Gatherings—the combination of both exhaustion and exhilaration combined in one. This feeling has propelled me forth as we depart into the next steps of Kingdom-building to which God has called us. Bring it on!

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July 24, 2014 — by ECO Communications Team

Equipping Pastors For Ministry

Creating ECO's ordination process


When ECO was conceived, there was hope that what would be created was a reformed body that kept churches connected, but allowed enough autonomy and flexibility that the local church would be able to flourish, thrive, and plant new churches. When a team of us imagined what the ordination process would look like for future ECO pastors, we took that vision and attempted to create a process that would be adaptable and flexible enough to meet the unique needs of each candidate. We also wanted to create a rigorous process of assessment that would have high expectations of candidates who needed to be theologically astute, knowledgeable of scripture, called and supported by their church community, and had already served the church successfully in multiple capacities.

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