March 12, 2014 — by Rev. Mateen Elass

Going With The Flow Of The Spirit

Bible_verse

Leaving space for God to work


What’s the right formula for detailed, advanced planning versus spontaneous, “go with the flow of the Spirit” when it comes to ministry? I certainly don’t know, but I do know when both dovetail harmoniously, breathtaking things happen.

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March 4, 2014 — by Anna Kent

And There Was Joy: Lessons From Nehemiah

joy-of-the-Lord-strength

Joy admist the weeping


Lately, I've been hanging out with my biblical boyfriend, Nehemiah. His name keeps popping up in various circles, but I've especially enjoyed spending time with him during a small group bible study. So often, Nehemiah gets examined during a church's capital campaign or in terms of leadership development. I can certainly understand why. The theme of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem and the prayerful actions Nehemiah carries out show us the way to follow and honor God and give us an amazing portrait of faithful, wise leadership.

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February 20, 2014 — by Dana Allin

Discovering Our God-Given Gifts For Ministry


What I missed in the passage


Nine years ago, when I was the candidate for the pastor position at Indian River Presbyterian Church, I preached on Ephesians 4:11-16. I’ve always seen this passage the closest thing we can find in Scripture for a pastor’s job description. In fact, it is the only time the word pastor is used in the Bible and, even then, it is often translated as shepherd.

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February 5, 2014 — by Rev. Mateen Elass

Love For The Lost

searching for georgieSearching for Georgie


Our family loves Labrador retrievers. We presently have two female, yellow labs, Geordie and Haley, ages six and four. And last Saturday, I lost one.

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January 27, 2014 — by Dana Allin

Five Focuses For A New Year

2014 goalsJanuary marks the two-year anniversary of ECO. We launched in January 2012, accepted our first congregation in May 2012, and now have over 108 member churches and two new churches in the process of being planted. Praise God for the ongoing story of ECO! A few weeks ago in the ECO newsletter, I shared five focus areas for ECO as we grow into 2014. In case you missed it, I wanted to share it again here to keep us focused as we live into our mission in the new year.

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January 8, 2014 — by Len Tang

Is There a Secret Sauce to Making Disciples?

What is the smallest unit of disciple-making?


We typically think of congregations as the primary context where people meet Jesus, mature and are sent out in mission. I’m curious if that’s where you see disciple-making happening. Or, for instance, missional communities are emerging as a significant approach to becoming and making disciples. A missional community is a sort of tweener group - smaller than a congregation but larger than a small group. Or is the most effective context for making disciples even smaller? Some advocate 1-on-1 mentoring relationships. Neil Cole’s answer is a triad - a group of three men or three women who meet weekly to focus on Scripture, confession and prayer for unbelievers. He calls these little groups “Life Transformation Groups” and has seen them grow and spread virally. Or what if we simply focused on our families with parents discipling their children into the ways of Christ? If our families aren’t disciple-making entities, then how can the church be?

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January 6, 2014 — by ECO Communications Team

Meet John Terech: A Story of Coming to Faith

john terechWe are pleased to announce John Terech as ECO's new Director of Operations. John is tremendously gifted, bringing more than 20 years of leadership experience in finance, administration, and ministry. In this new role, John will assist Brenda Smith (our COO, who is stepping back to part-time) in financial, legal, and insurance operations. He will also support Dana Allin (Synod Executive) in ecclesiastical operations, including resourcing congregations and presbyteries. But what we love most about John is his heart for ministry and love for Jesus. Here, in John's own words, is some of his story — including how both personal and national tragedy awakened him spiritually. 

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December 25, 2013 — by Dana Allin

Following the Holy Spirit to the Middle East

book-coverDavid Garrison has a new book coming out in January 2014 called A Wind in the House of Islam. In this book he looks at Christian movements in the Muslim world. He classifies a movement as at least 1,000 baptisms or 100 new churches started from one source. He notes there have only been a handful of such movements from 1600-1980. However in the last 20 years there have been 70 well documented independent movements of this magnitude. His point? The Sprit of God is blowing in some unique and powerful ways in the Muslim world.

Exploring partnerships for ECO in the Middle East


Earlier this month I had the opportunity to travel with a few others to the Middle East on a vision trip to see how ECO might be called to join with the Holy Spirit in this movement in the Muslim world. We met with many pastors, church planters, and Christian business leaders to learn first hand what God was doing. There were several things I was amazed by.

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December 23, 2013 — by Rev. Mateen Elass

Love With All You Got

duck-dynasty-logo-fontduck-dynasty-nation---for-all-dd-fans-u1eln4rjMost people, Christian or not, would agree with Jesus’ summation of God’s will: “Love the Lord with all you got, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Many people, whether Christian or not, tend to not focus as much on the first command; but most everyone expresses an opinion about how to love others and whether or not that is being practiced well by others.

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December 15, 2013 — by Keith Hill

How Do You Identify Your ECO Church?

How do you identify your ECO church?


Some ECO congregations have had to change signs and website banners because the old denominational seal was part of their “look.” At St. Giles we didn’t face that problem, but we figured with a new season it was time to rethink what we usually take for granted – our “look” in the public eye.

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December 8, 2013 — by Len Tang

Faith is spelled R-I-S-K

Taking RIsksMoving towards risk


Advent is the season in which we celebrate the reality that God made himself vulnerable, that He put Himself at risk by becoming a newborn in Bethlehem. Recently, I read an article by Mark Labberton that helped me recognize that risk-taking is part and parcel of God’s nature. Through creating autonomous human beings as well as through the incarnation, God took incredible risks to open up the possibility of relationship. And so we mimic God as well as trust in God by taking risks for His sake.

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November 26, 2013 — by ECO Communications Team

Thanksgiving Hymn

This Thanksgiving Hymn was written by Rev. Dr. Richard Gibbons from First Presbyterian Church of Greenville, SC. Last week while traveling with colleagues in China he penned this hymn to share with his congregation on Thanksgiving weekend. You too are warmly invited to use this hymn this weekend.

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November 24, 2013 — by Keith Hill

The Master's Surprising Music

A tired, worn out instrument


piano keysThe piano was a dilapidated upright with a badly stained keyboard, and screws holding many of its ivories in place. Its volume pedal was stuck, and several of its keys were missing strings. The hammer felts had long since worn thin, which gave it a tinny sound.

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November 20, 2013 — by Dana Allin

"What Gets Measured Gets Done."

“What gets measured gets done.”

Peter Ducker was the one who coined this phrase and over the years, I have found this principle very helpful, especially in how I have seen it applied within the life of a congregation.

Measuring Growth

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November 17, 2013 — by Rev. Eric O. Jacobsen

Standing Up to Quiet Down

"Local Churches Leave Denomination Over Homosexuality"


stepping upThis is a headline I've been dreading ever since my church began the discernment process to determine whether we should leave our denomination. The last thing I want is for our congregation to be known in the community as "the church that hates gay people." For a church in a city that was recently voted “The Gayist City in America,” such a reputation could have a negative impact on our mission.

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November 11, 2013 — by Rev. Mateen Elass

Learning to Make Disciples

One year ago, a dear member of my congregation gave me a book. It sat on my office desk until last week, when I finally opened it and began reading. I only wish I hadn’t let it sit so long.

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November 3, 2013 — by Keith Hill

Known for What?

In ten years what will ECO be known for? According to our “Who We Are” statements, we’ll be known for:


  • building flourishing churches that make disciples of Jesus Christ

  • baptizing more than we bury

  • a missional pattern of church life

  • and our new church planting passion


praise worship

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