PRMI was invited to participate at the 2018 National Gathering of the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians (ECO). More than 1500 pastors, elders and church leaders from around the country participated in the January Gathering, which was held in Houston, TX.
The PRMI team sensed an openness to the work of the Holy Spirit and a willingness to welcome involvement by the Triune God in the everyday lives of churches and individuals.
We felt particularly integral to what God is doing in ECO as we were able to offer the “how” of welcoming the Holy Spirit – the “so what does this look like?” “What could this look like?”
Chris Walker, Lisa Steigerwald and Mary Ellen Conners hosted an information table where we had a large display and offered books and brochures introducing people to PRMI and describing our various ministries.
We had a great location, right outside the doors to the main meeting hall, which made for great conversations and lots of visibility. Several folks also sought us out for personal prayer, which was so rewarding for all of us.
“I have never done that before – it was really something!”
Close to 40 folks came a day early to be part of a five hour pre-conference, which was an introduction to both PRMI and our Growing the Church material. As we opened by singing “Here I Am, Lord” a cappella – the Lord’s Presence was palpable.
After giving folks time to introduce themsleves, we moved them into twos and asked: “Where are you yearning to see God’s Holy Spirit move in your church?”
After some teaching, we led them in a listening prayer exercise in triads, where God moved quietly and powerfully.
We led them through a debriefing, and did some coaching about gracious ways to share in humility and test/discern the Lord’s guidance. One person was quite moved as she shared (with the whole group) how the other two ministered directly to her health issues.
We sensed that fourth work of the Holy Spirit – how the Spirit creates koinonia – as we stopped and all prayed for her. After the seminar, I overheard a pastor from Florida saying excitedly, “I have never done that before – it was really something!”
Workshop 1: Launching Prayer in the Local Church
During the conference, participants could choose three one-hour breakout sessions from an extensive menu of options. We were asked to assist ECO’s prayer ‘point person,’ Wendy Everts, with a session on launching prayer in the local church. Most of the folks who came were already involved in various forms of prayer ministry, and seemed really appreciative of Mary Ellen and Wendy’s teaching and coaching.
Workshop 2: Growing the Church
Our “Growing the Church” material was also featured at a breakout session, where Rod Pinder, Bill Gestal and I were engaging with more than 80 folks in a room set up for 60 🙂
Rod and Bill did a wonderful job of introducing the theological foundation of our ministry and giving an overview of Growing the Church.
I shared a story about our session stopping to pray in the middle of a difficult discussion and closed by giving them a chance to pray in twos after briefly introducing themselves. We did a bit of debriefing so they could get a ‘taste’ of it.
It was really fun to model team leadership and to see the Lord creating and nurturing multiple connections with each other, our two ministries, and of course with Himself.
Seeking to be a Spirit-led denomination
It seems that ECO is truly seeking to be a Spirit-led denomination, and they are looking to us (and others) to assist with this. I can see how both our theology and our style /DNA is more than just helpful. I can see PRMI’s ministry – what we offer – woven into the fabric of this emerging movement of churches for the glory of God.
A personal dance of cooperation with the Holy Spirit
On a personal note, even though I have been doing this for a lot of years, God is still growing and stretching me – a “planner” by nature. Although I had been working on our involvement at this conference since last spring, it wasn’t until the morning of our seminar, that the fulness of His Presence and pleasure at this ‘assignment’ overwhelmed me.
As I sat with my coffee and my blank journal page watching folks go up the escalator to register, it was then I got a “download” of really specific direction for our seminar, and a longed-for accompanying peace. He reminded me that He leads the Dance, and embracing His timing calls forth trust from me.
I want to thank all of you who prayed specifically for us and for me. The sense of ‘covering’ was quite real and comforting. I think it enabled those of us leading to bring our best, most joyful selves, and thus put our people more at ease.