An invitation to ask When our son Johnny was small, “what if…?”...
“What does the Executive Director of Ecclesiastical Support do?” Everywhere I travel for ECO I’m asked this question. Over the next several months my hope is to profile how ECO is helping local churches to flourish and how my position contributes to that.
I love Christ’s church. I have worked for the church my entire adult life. Ministry began for me after graduating high school, when I was hired to serve as the Director of Middle School Ministries for my home church in Northern California. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with incredibly gifted pastors and church leaders who nurtured my faith and developed me into a leader. As they invested in me, I was lead to pursue pastoral ministry. I loved being a pastor of a local church. It was a gift to walk daily with a congregation that was striving to become more like Jesus Christ, learning to live faithfully to the commission that Christ has given to each of us…to make disciples of Jesus Christ…, and to grow Christ’s church. In my new role as Director of Ecclesiastical Support, I am working to develop and refine systems in ECO that hopefully will help every church to flourish so that each one is making disciples for Jesus.
One example of what we are working on to help churches flourish is happening in Pennsylvania. Over the past several months, Dana Allin, John Terech, and I have been working with the Paul Borden revitalization cohort in the Rivers of Life Presbytery. In this cohort, there are eight churches who are working to revitalize their congregations. This cohort is designed to help each of the eight churches to live out ECO’s mission completely. Each pastor has been meeting monthly with Dr. Borden and the three of us in “learning communities” to develop the skills necessary to lead revitalization efforts in the local church. Over the last two months, we have started the consultation process. Dr. Paul Borden, along with John, Dana or I, consults with the church over a period of four days. At the end of the long weekend, the church is given a report of no more than four pages. From this report, they can begin implementing “prescriptions” to return the church to health and begin the revitalization effort.
Here are what some of the churches have said so far:
“The consultation for our congregation was most helpful. The most frequent comment during the interviews was an awareness that we were “stuck,” and needed help taking next steps. After receiving the report, even though it contained difficult elements, the congregation seemed hopeful again, with a sense of anticipation for a flourishing future.” Pastor Henry Yoder, The Church at the Rock, PA
“Please communicate our thanks to ECO. We could not have afforded someone like Paul to come without the support of our new denomination! We have hope…” Elder, North Sandy Presbyterian Church, PA
“I wanted to report to you all that we reformatted our Vacation Bible School around the bridge event concept and it was a dramatic success. Typically, the Sunday after VBS we have a small handful of core kids and low energy. However, this past Sunday we had at least 10 visiting families, a great celebration in worship and a hotdog cookout after…It was so successful that people were joking after it was over that we fulfilled all of the prescriptions in one day!” Rev. Justin Amsler, McDonald Presbyterian Church, PA
Equipped to take on Christ’s Commision
ECO’s desire is to give local churches the tools and resources needed so that they may begin to flourish and make disciples for Jesus Christ. We want to see pastors trained to be the leaders and equippers of their congregations so that they will live out the Great Commission. We want to see sessions moving from board room to “upper rooms” in their leadership. And we want to see an unleashed laity ready to live lives missionally in their neighborhoods, so that each will live out their calling to make disciples for Jesus Christ.
As we continue to unpack what it means to live and operate as members of ECO, may we continue to pray, discern, and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit as we build and renovate churches in our denomination. If your church or presbytery are interested in being a part of the next Borden Revitalization Cohort, please contact the ECO office.