There is a profound difference between holding a doctrine to be true and living...
Though it used to be even better when ALL college football games were on TV, New Year’s day is still one of my favorite days. I love being able to not just celebrate the past, but also start fresh and make some adjustments that change the trajectory of my life. I also love New Year’s as a tangible reminder of what the Lord does for us every day.
Ever since I have been in ministry, I start thinking about the New Year in October. I take stock of the previous year by looking at how I am tracking with my annual goals and my prioritization of time and efforts. I would then start to think about the organizational and personal goals for the year and write them up for the session. This year was similar, except of course my goals were submitted to the Synod Executive Council.
As I reflect on 2014, I am so thankful for what God has done in our midst.
We gained a significant number of congregations. We formed our nine presbyteries with solid leadership in place in each of these presbyteries. We conducted our church planting assessment, and have a handful of official church plants (as well as four times that number that are in the formation stage to be approved by their presbyteries). I work with these things at a high level, but some of the most exciting experiences I have are when I am traveling and talking with pastors and leaders who have renewed vision and passion for what God wants to do through them. I love when elders report that their Mission Affinity Group experience has been the best “church meeting” in which they have ever participated. I love when I see that the default answer to ministry initiatives and new ideas is, “yes, let’s do it”!
I am equally, if not more excited for what 2015 will bring to ECO.
I can shift my energy and focus now that presbyteries are formed and functioning, all of the administration for ECO is now housed in the Goleta office, and that there are many people who can speak to churches that are considering discernment. I will be spending some more of my time helping to create and provide opportunities that will help facilitate the five shifts within our congregations.
Here are a few of the things we are working on:
- A training format that congregations can use to train elders and deacons to celebrate the sacraments in micro-expressions of church (according to 2.0502 of our polity).
- Provide qualified coaches for first call pastors, pastors in transformation settings, church planters and missional community leaders.
- The missional community formation guide that Jim Singleton, David Hancock and I wrote (Together on Mission: Building Gospel-Centered Missional Communities) will be coming out in January. There will be training and supporting resources provided to help congregations make this missional transition.
- We will be partnering with other organizations that will help facilitate ministry. Partnerships are established with TAG and Auxano, but we will also be an authorized partner with David Allen Co. to teach the Getting Things Done seminar at a greatly reduced cost.
- There are several other opportunities that are in the early formation stages that you will hear about throughout the year.
The vast majority of these opportunities will be released through “Flourish”, the new entity being created under ECO that will allow us to offer opportunities to, as well as partner with, those outside of ECO.
I am very excited about all of the new things that God will do in and through us in 2015!
The ECO staff is especially thankful for each of you, your leadership and your congregations. We pray God will bless you and your ministry deeply in the New Year as you share the good news of Jesus Christ with your communities and throughout the world!