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Earlier this spring I called together a group of mission leaders in Franklin, TN, to collaborate and connect about how to further strengthen ECO’s Global Engagement. At the conclusion of our two-day consultation, I was overwhelmed by how energizing and productive our time had been. We had discerned priorities and mission practices together and generated ideas for what we could do in partnership that we could not accomplish as individual congregations or organizations. The synergy was tangible! And beyond the ideas and action steps we generated, we all were energized by the relationships that had formed and deepened during our conversations over ideas and around tables at meals.
When I reflect on the shared work and mutual encouragement we received, I think of the words the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter of thanks to the church in Philippi:
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership (koinonia) in the gospel from the first day until now” (Phil. 1:3-5).
Paul uses this word, koinonia, to describe his relationship with the church in Philippi, a relationship of prayer, shared suffering, shared financial resources, and shared gospel ministry. This collaborative relationship led to joy in the shared learning and fruit for God’s Kingdom in Philippi and beyond.
Paul further describes his relationship with the church in Philippi as “sharing with me in God’s grace” or synkoinonous (Phil. 1:7). Paul was deeply committed to seeing mission as a collaborative partnership with congregations, rooted in the shared grace we received together in Jesus Christ. This is the heart of what we want to see happen for ECO Global Engagement – sharing in grace and mission between congregations, global partners, missionaries, and mission organizations. Collaborative partnerships help us to live into our core values of missional centrality and accountable community while maintaining our commitment to a lean and flexible organizational structure. Collaborative mission partnerships can catalyze flourishing churches that make disciples of Jesus Christ in their communities and around the world.
We experienced both koinoina and synkoinonous in our meeting in Tennessee. I give thanks for the sharing in grace and mission I have with colleagues in ECO congregations and our partner organizations, whose continued collaboration will bear much fruit, not only for ECO, but for God’s Kingdom as it extends to the ends of the Earth.
The Global Engagement Consultation was generously hosted by The Outreach Foundation near their offices in Franklin, TN. Our gathering included several mission leaders from ECO congregations and representatives from each of ECO’s mission partner organizations: The Antioch Partners, Frontier Fellowship, The Outreach Foundation and World Renew. These leaders embody some of the stellar mission leadership within ECO – one of ECO’s many tremendous resources. Learn more about ECO’s mission partner organizations on our website at http://eco-pres.org/who-we-are/partnerships/.