The gospel must be our main focus The gospel is both missional and attractional....
I hope and pray that you all had a wonderful Lenten season and Easter Sunday celebration of the powerful impact of the Resurrection on our lives and in our churches. One of my favorite books in the Bible is Acts, with it’s great recounting of how the resurrection changed the whole trajectory, mission, and orientation of the disciples. Acts begins in the same way that the book of Matthew ends: A commission is given to the disciples who are going to be witnesses to every region and to every person in the world. I can imagine the disciples who heard the words of Jesus were likely excited about the possibilities, and perhaps overwhelmed at the enormity of the task. I know if I had been a disciple in that room I would have asked, “Ok Jesus, so what is the next step I need to take?”
“What is our next flourishing step?” is a question we hope all ECO leaders and churches are asking. Taking a flourishing next step is the purpose of meeting in community for prayer and discussion in our Mission Affinity Groups and Pastor Covenant Groups. It is the purpose of the narrative questions, introduced at the very inception of ECO to help a church Session discuss and discover their next flourishing steps for ministry. It is the purpose of language we have used since the beginning to remind people that coming into ECO isn’t about changing denominational jerseys, but moving towards flourishing ministry that makes disciples of Jesus Christ. Therefore, I always remind new congregations that even if their dismissal process has been long and painstaking, the goal isn’t simply to get into ECO, but rather to allow their entry into ECO to accelerate their congregation’s engagement in God’s Kingdom mission.
ECO has many resources available to our leaders and churches. The purpose of the Becoming a Flourishing Church material is to help congregations determine the greatest growth opportunity in order to reach greater missional flourishing. Some resources we have created here at ECO, and some we have gathered from outside partners with focused specialties. Our goal in providing access to these resources is not to overwhelm people or congregations with opportunities, but rather provide pathways so that when a congregation identifies a growth area, there is a way forward. What we find is that when the leadership of a congregation prayerfully determines where God is calling them to grow, and the leaders commit to a resource that requires significant steps towards growth, the congregation will see fruit.
My desire is that every one of our ECO churches and leaders would be asking the Lord, “What is our next flourishing step?” Spring is a good time of year for elders and other congregational leaders to ask this question. A church Session can wrestle with this question and potentially commit to taking its next flourishing step in the fall. We are not concerned whether the congregation takes that next step using an ECO-specific resource or whether they seek help from other para-church organizations. Our primary desire is that every church would identify where God is calling them forward and take the next active step in that direction.
If you need help in any way, please contact our office at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would be more than happy to help you take your next flourishing step. I pray that the power and truth of Christ’s Resurrection will continue to move you and your church forward towards a flourishing and God-ordained future.