It has been exciting to see that over fifty churches are officially participating in the Becoming a Flourishing Church material. We know that some churches are using the materials with their sessions but have not officially signed up, and others will begin to use the material in the fall. A few churches are using the material with their entire congregations to help increase the strength of individual discipleship as well as to get wider input into the health of their congregations. We have even had some churches who are not in ECO indicate that they are using the material for their sessions.
Our goal and desire isn’t simply to get more churches to use the material, but rather have the material stimulate a greater understanding of the health of a church. The desire is then that with a renewed understanding of the health of the church, the leaders will be able to take some significant steps to increase the overall health and vitality of the church.
Several churches that began using the material shortly after the national gathering are now creating plans to increase their church health in one of the six flourishing church competencies outlined in the material. What we are finding with these churches is that when the session has engaged deeply in the material, there is a change in the dynamics of session. Individual elders are recommitting to discipleship practices and communicating with one another about their own spiritual vitality. This alone would be a great win, but an additional occurrence is that sessions are having greater unanimity around the particular area in which their church needs to grow in the future. Because of this unanimity, the sessions can commit to more intensive opportunities to grow in the specific competency that is needed for their congregation.
The Becoming a Flourishing Church material is not an end in and of itself, but rather stimulates the next step toward a congregation’s health. It allows a congregation who transfers into ECO to not simply change their denominational affiliation, but to use their denominational change to catalyze flourishing. We are beginning to hear exciting stories from congregations who are flourishing as a result!
It is my hope and desire that we might hear more of these stories and share them with our larger ECO body. We would love to publish blogs on our website from pastors, elders, and congregations about how their personal discipleship and ministries have been changed by the Becoming a Flourishing Church process. We encourage you to e-mail blogs of approximately 300-500 words sharing your experiences as individuals or sessions to our Communications Director, Emily Day.
We continue to pray for each of our churches with the confidence that Paul expressed in Philippians 1:4-6. I like the way The Message articulates his prayer of thanksgiving and confidence. “I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God’s Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.
Grateful to be in ministry alongside of you,