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.
In light of a local approach, the purpose and vision for ECO church planting is to “to assist, resource, and support individuals and churches to plant spiritually vibrant, gospel-centered, emotionally healthy, contextualized, life changing churches throughout the United States and abroad.”
Specifically, our desire is to see new communities of faith that are marked by deep intimacy with Christ, where prayer is central to the life of the church, and where God’s Word is not only joyfully studied but informs every aspect of community life. We desire to see churches planted where God’s grace saturates, motivates, and empowers every aspect of community life. We desire new churches where people can feel safe to be vulnerable and real with one another and where pastors, leaders, and lay people experience emotional health. We also desire church plants to be contextualized where “one size” doesn’t fit all in terms of methods and models and where church planters sense freedom, flexibility, and creativity in starting new churches. Most importantly, we desire to see churches that see lives change that will result in neighborhoods, schools, families, workplaces, and cities being changed. This is our hope and prayer for the new church planting endeavors throughout ECO.
However, we know that effective planting cannot happen apart from God’s sovereign grace and your prayer and partnership. In terms of how you can pray and partner with us, there are three main ways: First, consider setting aside regular times in your worship service, leadership team meetings, or prayer meetings to pray for church planting in ECO. Second, consider giving to the assessment, training, and funding of church planters and church plants. Third, consider becoming a church planting church where future planters can become interns and be sponsored by your local church. We will be fleshing out the specific strategies for prayer, funding, training, and internships in the coming months, but until then, please simply pray and consider becoming part of this church planting initiative.
During the next few months there are several goals that I would like to accomplish. First and foremost, my desire is to connect with as many ECO planters, church planting chairs, churches, and pastors as possible. The main purpose is to listen, learn, and to assess ways that we as the national staff can serve you best. Secondly, I hope to design simple and clear pathways for individuals and churches, or groups of churches who want to plant new churches. My third goal is to establish pre-assessments, assessment, training, coaching, and ongoing support structure and processes that are specific and tailored for ECO. Part of the training and support for planters is the need to create church planting residencies in local ECO churches where planters can find mentorship and support before launching.
These are my hopes, prayers, and some plans for ECO church planting. Please continue to pray for us as we seek to serve you in the best way possible. Again, I am thrilled at the possibilities and excited about what God will do in and through ECO.