When my former church, Indian River Presbyterian, was preparing to go into ECO,...
Over the next several months, in preparation for our national gathering, we will be focusing our Thursday blog posts on ECO’s nine core values. We will spend a month of Thursdays on each of the values, where I will write an introductory blog post and then other authors will expand upon our Biblical understanding of the value for the next 3-4 weeks. We are excited to dig in together and pray that you will join us in this journey as we strive to stay connected until we see each other in person next January!
The first of our values is:
Jesus-shaped Identity: We believe Jesus Christ must be at the center of our lives and making disciples of Jesus at the core of our ministry.
ECO’s desire for a Jesus-shaped identity seems fairly obvious. As a kid, I would have said “no duh”! But how easy is it to not keep the main thing, the main thing? How easy is it to get so caught up in “doing for the Lord” that we forget to “be with the Lord”? How easy is it to get so caught up doing our 9th annual rummage sale at our church, that we don’t even bother to ask the question, “Is this activity actually helping to making disciples of Jesus”? Or sometimes we even try so hard to put on a technically excellent worship service and yet fail to link people to the One who is truly excellent.
A few months ago I preached at a presbytery meeting and used Jesus’ letter to the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2:1-7. This is a remarkable passage and Jesus commends the church in many ways. Ephesus was the largest of the seven churches. They had great theology so that they could weed out false teachers, and they were making an impact in the city. But Jesus did have one major issue with them. They lost their first love. They were no longer passionately in love with Jesus. And Jesus’ warning to them was that if they do not repent, He would move their lampstand, which meant that he was no longer going to allow them to be a church. These were sobering words for the church at Ephesus, and sobering words for us today as we strive to keep the main thing the main thing!
I am thrilled for some of the ways we will be promoting discipleship within ECO. One of those ways is that in the next couple of months we will be launching a discipleship assessment profile on our new Flourish ministry website. This profile will be an opportunity for people to assess various aspects of their own discipleship and allow others to do so on their behalf. This assessment isn’t meant to “grade” one’s discipleship, but rather to take an honest look at how someone has been growing as a disciple and where the Lord may want him or her to focus in the near future. The results of this 360 assessment can be used in individual mentoring relationships, in a Sunday school context, within a small group or missional community, or just as an individual.
This assessment will look not only at what a disciple knows, but also his or her character, how he or she lives in community, and how he or she fulfills the calling that God has placed on his or her life. I think you will find tool helpful in your own life and ministry.
In the next few weeks, I look forward to having a few others post on related topics regarding individual discipleship and how our communities can model a Jesus shaped identity. Let’s always continue to keep Jesus at the center of our lives and discipleship at the center of ministry in every one of our ECO churches!