“Bring a magazine and keep your head down.” As a young evangelical pastor in a m...
While I, and many others, missed the opportunity to be together in person at the National Gathering, it has been wonderful to hear the ways in which this year’s Virtual National Gathering was still able to connect with so many people on so many levels. We had about 3,500 people register for the Gathering and had that many unique views as well. Plus, we heard of many congregations who made viewing available at their church. Some congregations gathered their Mission Affinity Groups together to participate and on Saturday processed the “deep dive” questions together as a group. Thanks to those of you who sent in pictures – it was great to see some of your smiling faces since we couldn’t all be together!
Most importantly, more than the number of people who watched (or are still in the midst of watching) the National Gathering, however, is what people do as a result of having participated. I like what a friend of mine says to people on the way out of church when they tell him, “Good sermon, Pastor!” His comment is always, “We will see!” Meaning of course that it isn’t just about hearing, it is about application. I am excited about the ways in which people want to apply what they have heard and take their Flourishing Next Step as an individual and/or a congregation.
Hopefully you picked up on the different next steps available. One the one hand there is a huge need to re-center ourselves on the Lord, His calling on our lives, and strengthening the connectivity within the church. In that vein, we can encourage you to take steps related to things like Emotionally Healthy Spirituality that we heard about from Pete Scazzero. I know many of you resonated with Kelly Kannwischer as she spoke about becoming the person God has called us to be, rather than the one that we think we should be, or the one others expect us to be, or pay us to be. If that was a point of connection for you, perhaps engaging in the Younique process is a great next step.
In addition to slowing down and recentering, it will also be important to push forward to become the church that God has called us to be. Our local church may be called to engage in racial justice, as Efrem Smith talked about. Or perhaps we need to begin to wrestle with the seismic shifts that our country is experiencing and will continue to face in the future, as Daniel Yang illuminated for us.
One thing I am thrilled to see as a result of this Gathering is that because we were able to reach more lay leaders, there is a renewed excitement about ECO’s lay leader training. Our robust Commissioned Lay Pastor program has been invaluable for many, in particular those who don’t actually even want to become a CLP but simply desire to gain a greater level of training to help their churches flourish.
I encourage you to look at some of the next steps that are available, particularly the ones connected to the National Gathering and the pre-conferences. My guess is that you may see something you want to engage in either personally or as an entire congregation.
I am happy with the progress we have made in many areas, and at the same time we need to accelerate in areas such as church planting. I led a pre-conference before the Gathering titled, “How will ECO Fulfill its Vision?” and did a deep dive into our Leadership Development Initiatives. It is an hour long of content and then Q&A. Click here to view. I encourage you to watch it to both learn more, find areas in which you might get involved, and explore the possibility of financially contributing as we continue to create an innovative environment where we produce 1,000 flourishing churches.
I, or others on our staff, would love to have a conversation with your session to do a brief presentation and answer questions about our Leadership Development Initiatives so that you can find ways to use your energy and resources to make these exciting initiatives benefit and transform our local churches so they truly flourish in the ways God to which God has called them! If you would like to start a conversation or get more information, visit: eco-pres.org/investinthefuture
God called Abram and Sarai “into the unknown” in Genesis 12. They left comfortability and familiarity to go to the land that God would show them. But it wasn’t totally into the unknown, because God promised to walk with them and bless them and use them to be the seeds of blessing the world. I believe God is giving that same promise to us today. I am grateful for another National Gathering “together”, and most of all to be on the journey with you, I look forward to where God takes us together in the future!
In Christ, Dana